Scott Machin admitted a “moment of madness” helped Kettering Town as they continued their relentless charge at the top of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central.
The Poppies looked under-par during an even first half against Royston Town at Latimer Park.
But visiting midfielder Scott Bridges kicked out at Jason Lee just before the break and was rightly shown a red card.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as Kettering stormed into a 2-0 lead early in the second period thanks to spectacular goals from Andy Hall and Elliott Sandy before David Kolodynski added a hat-trick with his first strikes for the club to complete a 5-0 success.
With Bedworth United also winning, it meant the Poppies maintained their five-point lead at the summit.
But joint-boss Machin conceded Bridges’ sending-off was the key moment of the contest.
“It was very tight in the first half, we didn’t play particularly well for 30 minutes,” he said.
“Defensively we were fine but when we were in possession of the ball we weren’t great.
“But we were still in the game and this is the thing we have been talking about because we know we are stronger as the matches go on.
“But their guy has helped us out massively. It was an absolute moment of madness and I have no idea why he did it. I should imagine their manager is less than impressed.
“We changed the way we played a little bit for the second half because we knew they would have to put people behind the ball.
“We played a bit shorter with a higher tempo and as soon as the first goal came, you could see they were almost consigned to a defeat.
“We just kept going after that and we got the rewards for it.”
Machin, meanwhile, paid tribute to Kolodynski after he finally broke his duck and the joint-boss believes midfielder Andy Gooding’s decision to hand the ball to the frontman for a stoppage-time penalty to complete his treble was a sure sign of the squad’s togetherness.
“There were two really good finishes to get us going and we created chance after chance from there,” he added.
“David has been after a goal for a long time and that first one will always be scrappy.
“But then, things start falling for you and he has ended up with three which is fantastic.
“He has been brilliant since he has been here, his all-round game has been fantastic but he just hasn’t had that goal.
“The guys have been behind him from the minute he walked through the door.
“Andy Gooding was on penalties but it was nice to see him tell David to go and finish it off. It’s good to see that togetherness.”