AFC Rushden & Diamonds moved back up to third place in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central as they cruised to a 4-0 success at 10-man Aylesbury United.
Diamonds named new signing Lynval Da Costa among their substitutes for the clash as Andy Peaks’ side seeked a quick response following their first league defeat of the season at Godalming Town last weekend.
Tommy Berwick was denied by home goalkeeper Zaki Oualah early on but the game’s big turning point came on seven minutes when Berwick was hauled down by Oualah after being sent clear on goal.
The referee sent the home stopper off and, with no goalkeeper on the bench, midfielder Greg Williams took over between the sticks.
And Diamonds showed no mercy on the hosts as two goals in the space of five minutes all-but ended the contest.
Claudiu Hoban opened the scoring with a 35-yard strike into the roof of the net.
And it was 2-0 when Hoban pulled the ball back to Andy Hall and he crossed for Berwick to fire home from five yards.
Berwick and skipper Richard Bunting both shot over before the break but it was the latter who finished the game off two minutes into the second half.
Again, Hoban was at the heart of it as his shot came back off the post and Bunting was there to score from the rebound.
Berwick forced Williams into a good save from 20 yards while Diamonds goalkeeper Matt Finlay was finally called into action towards the end as he made a couple of decent saves.
But it was Diamonds who had the final say in stoppage-time as two young substitutes combined for the fourth. A fine run from Matt Pinder ended with him squaring for Joe Ackroyd to tap home his first senior goal for the club.
Diamonds’ victory moved them to within two points of leaders St Ives Town with three games in hand.
Peaks’ side are back on home soil on Saturday when they entertain eighth-placed Beaconsfield SYCOB at the Dog & Duck.
Don’t miss interviews with Jack Ashton and Andy Peaks in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph