Rene Howe scored twice as high-flying Kettering Town claimed a fine 4-2 Boxing Day success at St Neots Town.
The Poppies, who were without the suspended Brett Solkhon, went in front after six minutes when Gary Stohrer was fouled in the penalty area and Howe stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.
The remainder of the first half was even, although former AFC Rushden & Diamonds man Nabil Shariff shot straight at Paul White from a good position while Lewis Irwin also headed over for the hosts.
But the game sparked into life in the second half.
Howe saw a header saved by the home stopper but St Neots drew level when Irwin tapped home from close-range.
That started a crazy period as Howe restored the Poppies’ lead with a magnificent curling shot from 30 yards and, almost immediately, Aaron O’Connor made it 3-1 when he headed home Stohrer’s cross.
St Neots hit back again through substitute Dylan Williams but Kettering’s own substitute Mathew Stevens put his side 4-2 up when he was played in down the right and dinked the ball over the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
That sealed the points as the Poppies ended the year on a winning note.
They can now look forward to a big clash with fellow high-fliers King’s Lynn Town at Latimer Park on New Year’s Day.