Kettering Town secured their second win of the week at Latimer Park as they saw off St Ives Town 4-1, despite making life slightly harder for themselves that they would have liked.
The Poppies led at the break thanks to James Clifton’s blockbuster and they powered away after the break with Dubi Ogbonna, Jonathon Thorpe and Josh Moreman putting them 4-1 up.
But they had to see out the final 19 minutes with just 10 men after goalkeeper Alastair Worby was sent off for hauling down Avelino Vieira in the area and he also converted the resulting penalty.
However, Kettering stayed solid after that and saw the game out to ensure their push for a Calor League Division One Central play-off place stayed on track.
With it being the Poppies’ third of the week, boss Dean Thomas again made changes following the 4-0 victory over Ashford Town (Middx) on Tuesday.
Clifton and Chris Logan came into the starting line-up with Andy Gooding and Louis Hamilton dropping to the bench, which also included James Jepson after a hamstring injury.
St Ives came into the clash on the back of a 5-0 home loss to Royston Town on Tuesday and that may have still been in their minds as the Poppies made a bright start.
Tommy Hull flicked Thorpe’s corner towards the far corner but it was hacked off the line.
And visiting goalkeeper Barney McLaughlin was soon in action as he was forced to parry Logan’s 18-yard shot.
But, having survived that early onslaught, the visitors gradually came into it and there was a warning for the Poppies when JP Duncliffe caught them napping from a short corner before seeing his deflected effort comfortably held by Worby.
And the Kettering goalkeeper was further extended soon after when Dan Banister beautifully turned away from his marker and hit an 18-yard shot that Worby had to parry away.
However, it was the hosts who took the lead on the half-hour mark with something pretty much out of nothing.
Ash Fuller found Clifton in the centre and as he advanced, the home defence stood off. And the right-back needed no second invitation from 20 yards as he blasted a wonderful strike into the bottom corner.
The Poppies didn’t exactly take control of things from there as St Ives remained a threat. But it was Kettering who went closest to scoring again before the break.
The charismatic Henry Eze set off on a run from halfway and it ended with him swinging in a wonderful cross, which was met by the head of former St Ives man Ogbonna. But McLaughlin was equal to the task as he brilliantly tipped the header over the bar.
Kettering, however, started the second half as the finished the third and it was Ogbonna who doubled the advantage shortly after he had been denied by a fine block from Jordan Lambert.
Thorpe did the hard work as he skipped into the area from the right wing. He pulled the ball back for Ogbonna who made no mistake and didn’t celebrate out of respect for his former club.
The Poppies piled the pressure on from there with McLaughlin saving well from Ash Fuller, Moreman having a header cleared off the line and Eze sending an overhead-kick just wide.
But the third did arrive in unusual circumstances when Thorpe’s right-footed corner from the left appeared to go straight into the far corner, although there were claims that Ogbonna got the final touch.
And within 60 seconds, it was 4-0 as Moreman added to his hat-trick on Tuesday by blasting into the roof of the net after the visitors had failed to clear.
That was the signal for Thomas to bring off both Moreman and Ogbonna with Sandy and Will Muzvimbiri entering the fray.
But, what seemed a straightforward task, became a lot trickier just three minutes after those changes.
Eze attempted to head the ball back to Worby but it was short and Vieira raced on to it. Worby hauled him down and was rightly shown red.
With no goalkeeper on the bench, it was Sandy who took over between the sticks and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net as former Corby Town striker Vieira hammered home the resulting penalty.
But Kettering did a good job from there as the defence held firm and ensured Sandy had little to do, so much so that he was even seen doing some sprinting drills in the penalty area while the play was at the other end.
They made life a bit harder for themselves but the Poppies were well worth their second win of the week.
The push for the top-five continues and another home win against Aylesbury on Saturday will be required to ensure it carries on.
Poppies: Worby; Clifton, Eze, Crowie, Kinniburgh; Thorpe, Hull, Logan, Fuller (sub Jepson, 89 mins); Ogbonna (sub Sandy, 66 mins), Moreman (sub Muzvimbiri, 66 mins). Subs not used: Hamilton, Gooding.
St Ives: McLaughlin; Duncliffe, Newman, Lambert, Hancock, Thurlbourne; King, Bannister, Roberts; Vieira, Meechan. Subs not used: Alsop, Gibbs, Eyre, Bennion, Fordham.
Referee: Ben Cooke.
Goals: Clifton (30 mins, 1-0), Ogbonna (51 mins, 2-0), Thorpe (64 mins, 3-0), Moreman (65 mins, 4-0), Vieira pen (71 mins, 4-1).
Sending-off: Worby (professional foul).