Lee Beeson’s set-pieces made the difference as Spalding United recorded their fifth successive away win.
He delivered for Bradley Wells and Brad Barraclough to head home second-half goals.
Beeson’s assists provided a stunning comeback by the 10-man Tulips who showed so much character and desire.
They seemed to be on the way to a shock defeat at Rugby Town on Saturday when Neal Spafford was dismissed before David Kolodynski pounced on Jordan Lemon’s error to put The Valley ahead.
But there are reasons why Spalding will keep pushing for promotion while Rugby fight against relegation.
Perhaps they were shown by what happened after the first goal at Butlin Road.
The Tulips went from being terrible to terrific as soon as they finally woke up.
The first-half display was dreadful – although Rugby deserve credit for a positive approach.
Spalding should have been behind as Trey Brathwaite’s 25-yard free-kick bounced off the bar.
Scott Hadland, Kyle Rowley and Mitchell Thomson also went close.
In response, Spalding had offered nothing and they didn’t look like a second-placed side.
It went from bad to worse as Spafford was quite rightly sent off for a moment of stupidity.
He guided the ball out of play for a throw-in but inexplicably swung his arm onto the back of Kolodynski’s head – giving the referee no option as that was clearly a case of violent conduct.
Three minutes later, Lemon tried to knock the ball back to Richard Walton but set up Kolodynski for a lob beyond the on-loan keeper.
Thomason nearly doubled the lead but the Tulips finally got themselves going before it was too late.
Beeson’s corner was met by a free header from Wells who took his tally to 22 goals so far this term.
Just seven minutes later, Barraclough was pulled down on the corner of the penalty box and he nodded inside the near post from Beeson’s free-kick.
Beeson started in midfield, swapped in the first half with Nathan Whitehead to provide support for Wells and finished the game at right-back to cap a wonderful performance!
But those set-pieces proved vital and Spalding held on at the end under more pressure.
4-4-2: Jezeph; Westwood, M Rowley, K Rowley, Brathwaite; Print (sub Shakespeare 67 mins), Hadland (sub Phillips 78 mins), Quinn, Thomson; Sterling, Kolodynski. Subs not used: Campbell, Punter, Connor.
4-4-1-1: Walton 7; Walker 8, Spafford 4, Stainfield 8, Jackson 7; Lemon 6, Varley 5 (sub Barraclough h-t, 7), Beeson 9, Wightwick 6 (sub Higginson 50 mins, 6); Whitehead 8; Wells 7 (sub Fleming 86 mins). Subs not used: Lockie, Duggan.
Kolodynski (50 mins, 1-0); Wells (57 mins, 1-1); Barraclough (64 mins, 1-2).
Spafford (violent conduct).
Westwood (foul); Jackson (dissent).
Lee Beeson – two assists from set-piece delivery and showed his value in three different roles!
Chasetown (H) – Saturday.