Brett Solkhon predictably stole the show as he marked his 400th appearance for Kettering Town with a goal in a hard-fought 2-1 success over 10-man Biggleswade Town at Latimer Park.
The night belonged to club legend Solkhon who received a guard of honour from the two teams before the game and then fired home to bring his side level after they had fallen behind to Chris Marsh’s goal in the second half.
Biggleswade impressed after having Callum Lewis sent off just 11 minutes into the game and, for a long time, they looked well worth the point they looked set to get.
But a late own-goal sealed the deal for the Poppies to ensure it was a night for Solkhon and his team-mates to savour.
Marcus Law made a couple of change to his starting line-up with Michael Richens returning at right-back while Elliot Sandy was recalled in a holding midfield role.
Kettering threatened early as Solkhon flicked on James Brighton’s corner and Dubi Ogbonna’ shot at the far post was blocked by Gavin Hoyte.
But the game’s flashpoint came on 11 minutes when Biggleswade’s Lewis was sent off by referee Robbie Dadley for a reckless challenge on Liam Canavan.
It looked a harsh one and with Biggleswade feeling a sense of injustice, it galvanised them.
They reorganised quickly and, with the game stop-start, the Poppies struggled to make any inroads in a poor opening period.
Sandy had a go from 25 yards but shot wide while Craig Hill was forced into a save from Marsh at the other end.
Ogbonna sent an effort over just before the break after robbing a defender but more was needed in the second half.
Mulligan lasted three minutes before being replaced by Silvano Obeng but Latimer Park was stunned into silence on 53 minutes when the 10 men took the lead.
Richens’ attempt to clear his lines went horribly wrong as he sliced the ball high toward the far post. And while everyone stood still, Marsh rose to send a powerful header in the corner.
There was almost an instant response as Ogbonna cracked a decent strike off the post.
But Kettering were rocking at the other end and Hill was forced to tip a well-struck Sam Merson free-kick over the bar.
However, cometh the hour, cometh the man. The ball was delivered into the area, Ogbonna held it and laid it off and Solkhon thumped it past a helpless Ian Brown.
That should have been the cue for an onslaught. Instead, the 10 men battled back and so nearly regained the lead when Lewis Hilliard’s deflected shot smacked off the post with Hill well beaten.
Kettering responded again and Brown pushed away an inswinging Brighton free-kick that missed everyone while Solkhon somehow headed over when unmarked from the resulting corner.
It didn’t look like the winner would arrive but then, with 86 minutes lady luck showed up.
Will Grocott sent in a corner from the left and as the heads went up, the ball bounced off Andrew Iwelino’s and found the net.
It was harsh on the visitors who had been more than a match, despite having been down to 10 men for so long.
But there were no complaints from the Poppies who, on their second-half showing, could argue they were well worth the points.
However, the final word must go to that man Solkhon. To reach 400 appearances for one club is an incredible effort for any player.
To get a goal on the night was the cherry on top of what was eventually a very tasty cake.
Poppies: Hill; Richens (sub Williams, 77 mins), Thorne, Solkhon, Langdon; Mulligan (sub Obeng, 48 mins), Sandy; Grocott, Canavan (sub Brown, 60 mins), Brighton; Ogbonna. Subs not used: Gooding, Harmon.
Biggleswade: Brown; Lewis, Hoyte, Iwelino, King; Marsh, Hill, Rees, Merson (sub Offlong, 64 mins); Hilliard, Burnett (sub Daniel, 77 mins). Subs not used: Frater, Allinson, Coulson.
Referee: Robbie Dadley.
Goals: Marsh (53 mins, 0-1), Solkhon (64 mins, 1-1), Iwelino og (86 mins, 2-1).
Bookings: Richens, Grocott (both fouls),
Sending-off: Lewis (serious foul play).