It was a sobering night for Daventry Town on Thursday as Kettering Town showed their promotion credentials by storming to a superb 3-0 success over Darran Foster’s title favourites in the Calor League Division One Central.
The records tumbled in front of more than 450 fans at Communications Park.
Daventry slipped to their first league defeat of the season on their own patch, while the Poppies marched on to extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches - a club record for league matches.
But it wasn’t just the final score that mattered, it was more the way Dean Thomas’s men did it.
Aside from a tentative first 15 minutes, in which Alastair Worby made a decent block to deny James Husband after a rare slip from Henry Eze, Kettering were excellent.
They outworked and outplayed what is a clearly a strong Daventry side who will surely still have a big say in where the title ends up come late April.
From the moment the outstanding Andy Gooding was denied by home goalkeeper Richard Morris after being played in by James Clifton, the Poppies didn’t look back.
They took the lead on 25 minutes and Clifton was the architect.
His perfectly weighted lofted pass into the right channel was seized upon by Jonathon Thorpe and he made no mistake with a measure finish across Morris.
Eze sent a volley wide of the mark but the monstrous defender got his moment seven minutes before the break. A corner came in from the left and the big centre-half was there at the far post to firmly head home. The ease at which that second goal happened would have left the home management furious.
Many, perhaps, would have expected an onslaught from the hosts after the break.
But it never materialised, mainly because Kettering didn’t allow it to.
And they wrapped up the points just before the hour. Substitute Louis Hamilton, who had only been on the pitch for four minutes, was sent clear down the right.
His low cross was helped on and it reached Elliot Sandy who couldn’t and didn’t miss from close-range.
And, with that, the game was up. Sandy sent a volley just wide of the target after rolling his marker while Daventry substitute Ashley Robinson had an effort cleared off the line at the other end.
But it was Kettering, so deadly on the counter-attack, who were unfortunate not to add to their lead as Josh Moreman had a fierce strike saved by Morris while only a heroic block from Ryan Howell denied Sandy from finishing from the rebound.
Daventry now have to dust themselves down and prepare for Saturday’s visit of another of their promotion rivals in Slough Town.
Daventry: Morris; Deeney, Wilkinson, Dolman, James; Oulton (sub Green, 55 mins), Confue, Howell, Husband (sub O’Grady, 60 mins); Keen, Berwick (sub Robinson, 69 mins). Subs not used: Blake, Simpson.
Poppies: Worby; Clifton, Hull, Eze, Kinniburgh; Thorpe (sub Hamilton, 55 mins), Logan, Gooding, Jepson, Moreman (sub Fuller, 78 mins); Sandy (sub Ogbonna, 78 mins). Subs not used: Crowie, Ford.
Referee: S Barry.
Goals: Thorpe (25 mins, 0-1), Eze (38 mins, 0-2), Sandy (59 mins, 0-3).
Bookings: Moreman, Keen (both fouls).