Kettering Town’s love affair with the FA Cup was well and truly reignited as they finally got things oh so right at Latimer Park.
There’s no getting away from it, the Poppies’ home form in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division has been miserable.
But, and not for the first time in their rich history, the world’s most famous club knockout competition proved very kind to them as they completed a thoroughly deserved 2-0 success over old rivals Boston United.
Kettering were given a helping hand when visiting defender Joe Maguire was sent off for two bookable offences midway through the first half.
But the truth is, Marcus Law’s team were already showing clear signs that the one-division gap between the two clubs was not going to be a major factor.
The Poppies were everything they needed to be. They were brave in their defending, energetic in midfield and in former Pilgrim Spencer Weir-Daley they had a tireless worker in a lone attacking role as Rene Howe began a four-match suspension.
There were impressive displays all over the pitch with old stager Brett Solkhon showing the sort of passionate performance needed on days like this while Nathan Hicks and Liam Canavan showed real moments of quality.
And, from a defensive point of view, there were no signs of any of those individual errors that have proved costly in recent weeks. Indeed, such was the performance of the back four, goalkeeper Paul White didn’t have one meaningful shot to save.
The early exchanges were fairly even with Gregg Smith shooting wide for Boston while a Canavan free-kick was held by visiting goalkeeper Michael Emery.
But Kettering should have opened the scoring on 20 minutes. Liam Bateman swung in a cross from the right, James Brighton - a real livewire all afternoon - nodded it back and Weir-Daley headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
But Boston were down to 10 men just two minutes later when Maguire clattered into Weir-Daley just six minutes after being booked for hauling down Brighton in full flight.
A soft sending-off? Perhaps. But the challenge on Weir-Daley was one he probably didn’t need to make.
Not that Kettering were complaining. Despite, Jason St Juste seeing a deflected cross strike the frame of the goal, the Poppies continued to pile forward and were finally rewarded on the stroke of half-time.
It all came from fine work from left-back Dom Langdon who got to the by-line and then pulled the ball back for Canavan who swept it home.
Boston did their best to give it a go after the break but Kettering remained resolute and always looked the more likely to nick another goal.
Hicks drove one just wide from 20 yards and Emery had to be at his best to claw out substitute Anthony Howell’s header.
But the game was up for Boston as the game moved into stoppage-time.
With the Pilgrims committing men forward, the Poppies broke quickly with Brighton charging down the left. He then found Wilson Carvalho who turned his marker and then thundered his shot beyond Emery.
The celebrations both on and off the pitch told the story as Kettering moved to within 90 minutes of another appearance in the first round proper.
And perhaps the final word should go in the direction of the manager.
Law has had his critics this season and there’s no doubt there is a serious amount of work to do when it comes to the league campaign.
But credit where it’s due. Law had his players well prepared and fully motivated.
Let’s hope this can be the start of good things to come, particularly at home.
Poppies: White; Bateman (sub Mohamed, 70 mins), Mulligan, Haran, Langdon; Solkhon; Carvalho, Canavan (sub Howell, 75 mins), Hicks, Brighton; Weir-Daley. Subs not used: Baker, Dean, Lee, O’Connor, Wilson.
Boston: Emery; Thomas (sub Burgess, h-t), Maguire, Robinson, Gordon; Rollins, Marshall, Agnew, St Juste; Fairhurst (sub Hilliard, h-t), Smith. Subs not used: Colley, Payne, Wildin, Adams, Price.
Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis.
Goals: Canavan (44 mins, 1-0), Carvalho (90 mins, 2-0).
Bookings: Maguire (foul), Smith, St Juste (both dissent), Haran (kicking ball away), White (time-wasting).
Sending-off: Maguire (second bookable offence).