Corby Town ended a four-game losing streak as they gained quick revenge on AFC Totton with a comfortable 3-1 win at Steel Park.
Following the news that the players had received the wages that were owed to them on Tuesday, both captain Gareth Jelleyman and Chris Carruthers returned as they promised they would when the money had been paid.
But there was a further surprise with Claudiu Hoban returning to the Steelmen side just a short time after apparently leaving to join Skrill Premier side Tamworth.
And Hoban marked his return by firing the Steelmen in front after just three minutes.
Hoban pretty much started where he had left off and he played a key role in the second goal, which was quickly followed by another as Corby put the game to bed in the space of two second-half minutes.
The Steelmen certainly looked rejuvenated after their wages were paid and this will hopefully be the start of an encouraging end to what has turned into a tough season.
Sixteen-year-old Connor Kennedy kept his place at right-back while joint-manager Tommy Wright continued alongside Kalern Thomas at the heart of the defence. There was also a return to the squad for Tom Ingram after a long injury lay-off.
It all added up to give the Steelmen a much stronger look and they couldn’t have asked for a better start as Hoban made an instant impact on his surprise return to the side.
Totton had actually started the brighter but they were behind within three minutes when Hoban took aim with a low shot from 20 yards, which was precise enough to beat Steve Mowthorpe and find the bottom corner.
The visitors responded with Harrison Gilkes setting off on a driving run from halfway and his shot was well saved by Paul Walker.
From there, it all became a bit scrappy as both sides struggled as the rain came down.
Hoban forced Mowthorpe into a smart save at his near post while Walker held on to Zac Mouland’s effort after the winger had cut in from the left.
But Totton went even closer to an equaliser five minutes before the break when Gilkes played in Nathaniel Sherbourne and his shot across goal went narrowly wide with Walker beaten.
It was a cagey start to the second half but Corby had a golden chance to double their lead just past the hour when Sam Ives created a bit of space for himself with a lovely turn on the right wing.
His pin-point cross landed on the head of Greg Mills but Mowthorpe made a fine save from point-blank range.
Totton responded with Gilkes forcing Walker into a decent save at his near post and the impressive Kennedy headed away the danger as Luke Roberts closed in for the rebound.
And Corby took full advantage of that as they finished the visitors off with two goals in as many minutes.
First, Hoban was hauled down by Liam Hibberd and referee David Bryan immediately pointed to the penalty spot from where Mills beat Mowthorpe with a well-struck spot-kick into the bottom corner.
And just two minutes later the game was over when Mills crossed from the left, Carruthers headed it back and Ives was there to smash home from four yards.
It was fairly straightforward for Corby from there. Walker was forced into a decent stop from substitute James Jennings’ free-kick while Kennedy shot wide for the hosts at the other end.
The visitors did get themselves on the scoresheet with three minutes to go when Mouland finished well with the aid of the post after being sent clear in the left channel.
But that was as good as it got for Totton, who had enjoyed a win over a more makeshift Corby side just a few days earlier.
Amazing what can happen when players are paid and the big names return isn’t it?
Steelmen: Walker; Kennedy, Wright, Thomas, Jelleyman (sub Appleton, 80 mins); McGowan, Carruthers (sub Ingram, 83 mins); Hoban, Ives (sub May, 84 mins), Taylor; Mills. Subs not used: Carpenter, Wilson.
AFC Totton: Mowthorpe; Hibberd, Flooks, Lindsay, Bridge; Gilkes, Ross (sub Jennings, 69 mins), Gilbert, Roberts (sub Hurst, 74 mins); Mouland, Sherbourne (sub Edwards, 52 mins). Subs not used: Prodomo, Onoufriou.
Referee: David Bryan.
Goals: Hoban (3 mins, 1-0), Mills pen (68 mins, 2-0), Ives (70 mins, 3-0), Mouland (87 mins, 3-1).
Bookings: Carruthers, Kennedy, Flooks (all fouls), Mowthorpe (dissent).