Lewis Wilson continued his superb form as his hat-trick helped seal Kettering Town their third win in four games as they claimed a 4-3 success at fellow strugglers Hitchin Town.
The Northampton Town loan man, whose spell runs out after the game with Bedford Town on January 2, made it seven goals in seven games for the Poppies, whose further reduced the big gap between themselves and Hitchin, who started the day just above the relegation zone in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.
Jamie Griffiths was also on target while Hitchin’s John Frendo finished on the losing side despite hitting a hat-trick of his own in a thrilling game that also saw three penalties.
Poppies boss Alan Doyle named Raajan Gill in goal in place of Yannick Nlate and the new keeper had an early scare as Frendo hit the bar when it seemed easier to score.
At the other end, Nathan Hicks had a shot well saved and it was Kettering who broke the deadlock on 17 minutes when Joel Gyasi chased down the home goalkeeper and forced him to mis-kick his clearance.
It fell to the in-form Wilson and he made no mistake when lofting the ball into the empty net from 35 yards.
The Poppies had another let off when Frendo hit the post while Gyasi really should have doubled the visitors’ lead when he scuffed a shot wide after being played in by Wilson.
Frendo continued to be the biggest threat for the hosts and he shot wide and was denied by Gill before finally getting his goal three minutes before half-time.
Chris Logan was penalised for a foul in the area and Frendo stepped up to level from 12 yards.
However, there was still time for more drama before the break and Wilson was hauled down in the 18-yard box by Sam Berry, who received a booking for his troubles.
And Griffiths stepped up to hand his team a half-time lead from the penalty spot.
But it didn’t take long for Hitchin to draw level again after the break and the goal came from yet another penalty.
This time, Gill brought down substitute Oliver Taylor and Frendo stepped up again to convert from the spot while the Poppies goalkeeper was also booked for the incident.
But the game turned in Kettering’s favour thanks to Wilson’s double strike in the space of a 60 seconds.
He put the Poppies back in front when he got into the area on the angle and found the far corner.
And he completed his hat-trick a minute later when he bundled the ball home after good work from Henry Eze.
Gyasi had a shot blocked by home goalkeeper Martin Bennett after going through one-on-one soon after and the Poppies were made to pay for that miss as Frendo lashed home his third of the afternoon with 13 minutes to go.
But Kettering held on for another crucial victory. They are back in action at Banbury United on Saturday.
Poppies line-up: Gill, Gyasi, Fox, Logan, Eze, Crowie, Johnston, Hicks, Griffiths, Wilson, King. Subs: Harpal, Glen, Kelly, Blazio.
Goals: Wilson (17 mins, 0-1), Frendo pen (42 mins, 1-1), Griffiths pen (45 mins, 1-2), Frendo pen (54 mins, 2-2), Wilson (65 mins, 2-3), Wilson (66 mins, 2-4), Frendo (77 mins, 3-4).