Dubi Ogbonna hit another hat-trick for Kettering Town as they put Northwood to the sword with a 5-0 demolition at Latimer Park.
It is early days of course but the Poppies served notice of their intentions for the Southern League Division One Central campaign by following up Saturday’s opening 2-1 win over Aylesbury United with a five-star show.
Ogbonna led the way by scoring the first three before an Andy Gooding penalty made it 4-0 at half-time.
Things eased off after the break but the second half was lit up by Alfie Taylor grabbing a superb first goal in Kettering colours after coming on as a substitute.
Joint-managers Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin made just one change to the team that beat Aylesbury United on the opening day.
Club legend Brett Solkhon was handed his first league start since returning to this summer after he served a one-match ban on Saturday with Ash Robinson dropping to the bench.
Henry Eze, who was injured in the warm-up at the weekend, was still ruled out so Dan Crowie continued alongside Tommy Hull at the heart of the Poppies defence.
From the off, it was almost constant Kettering pressure and they wasted little time in turning the screw as they took the lead inside three minutes.
It was a lovely move as well. The influential Andy Hall found Andy Gooding, he slipped the ball through to Ogbonna who turned back inside before hammering past visiting goalkeeper Berkley Laurencin.
Northwood responded briefly with Jamie McAlindon spilling Mason Yorke’s free-kick but Hall was there to clear the danger.
That was as close as Northwood would come in the first half as the Poppies dominated from there.
Josh Moreman’s shot was held by Laurencin after Ross Oulton had seen an effort blocked while a wonderful cross from Hall was just out of Ogbonna’s reach.
But the frontman double his and the Poppies’ tally midway through the half. Ogbonna showed some nice trickery on the right of the penalty area and then hammered the ball across goal. Everyone stood still and it nestled in the bottom corner.
Laurencin tipped a Gooding free-kick over the bar but there was no stopping the relentless pressure as the third arrived just past the half-hour mark.
Oulton took down a high ball and made his way into the area. He was brought down by Nick Turner and referee Akil Howson immediately point to the spot. Regular penalty taker Gooding sportingly handed the ball to Ogbonna and he made no mistake to complete his hat-trick.
There was still time for more though. And another penalty came just before the break. This one was soft though as Hall went down under a challenge from Alex Noan after the ball had gone. Nonetheless, Gooding did step up this time and beat Laurencin from 12 yards.
James Clifton and Ogbonna forced the visiting goalkeeper into saves either side of half-time but the second period, in general, proved to be fairly low-key.
Northwood were better, indeed they couldn’t have been much worse, while the Poppies perhaps understandably seemed to take their foot off the gas.
However, one who actually put his foot on the accelerator was substitute Taylor.
Just eight minutes after he had replaced Moreman, the former AFC Rushden & Diamonds man raced away on the left wing, cut inside and unleashed a fierce strike into the far corner. A decent way to really introduce yourself to a new set of fans.
Tommy Hull headed over and another substitute Jonathon Thorpe saw an effort blocked but the damage had already been well and truly done.
No-one will be getting carried away and rightly so.
But this felt like a clear message from the Poppies to the rest of the league. In this sort of mood, it will take a decent team to stop them.
Poppies: McAlindon; Clifton (sub Thorpe, 76 mins), Crowie, Hull, Kinniburgh; Oulton, Solkhon, Gooding (sub Robinson, 81 mins), Hall; Ogbonna, Moreman (sub Taylor, 65 mins). Subs not used: Robinson, Bennion, Bukasa.
Northwood: Laurencin; Nolan, Brown (sub Duncan, 67 mins), Turner, Yorke (sub Lomas, h-t); Ehui, Lawal, Nicholas, Vassell, Smith (sub Walsh, h-t), Lawrence. Subs not used: Byfield, Molloy.
Referee: Akil Howson.
Goals: Ogbonna (3 mins, 1-0), Ogbonna (17 mins, 2-0), Ogbonna pen (32 mins, 3-0), Gooding pen (42 mins, 4-0), Taylor (75 mins, 5-0).
Bookings: Nicholas (unsporting behaviour), Yorke (foul).
Don’t miss all the reaction to the Poppies’ win and a preview of next weekend’s action in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph