Banbury United climbed out of the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division relegation zone with a 2-1 victory at nine-man Hitchin on Saturday.
The result saw the Puritans climb four places, but just two points from the drop-zone.
The visitors, who were without defenders Liam Dolman and Dan Chilton, were started the stronger with Howard Forinton twice going close.
At the other end, keeper Andy Kemp made a superb save to deny John Frendo.
Hitchin keeper Martin Bennett then tipped Ricky Johnson’s shot around a post after Tommy Kinch nodded the ball into his path Hitchin were reduced to ten men when Frendo was sent off after stamping on Forinton in an off-the-ball incident.
Two minutes into the second-half, Banbury took the lead.
Josh Blake saw an angled shot tipped away for a corner, before nodding Polk’s resulting flag-kick over Bennett.
Banbury were now using their one-man advantage to good effect, with Bennett keeping out a fierce drive from Danny Edmond after Blake’s pass sent him clear.
On 63 minutes Hitchin were down to nine men when Josh Cole’s shot was handled on the line by their captain Dean Gilbert for which he was sent off. Johnson slammed the resulting spot-kick past Bennett to make it 2-0.
It looked all over, but late on Mark Leach clawed a goal back from the penalty spot after Simeon Williams fouled Callum Donnelly.
Banbury withstood some severe home pressure, but held on for a vital victory.
Banbury Utd: Kemp, Williams, Kinch, Polk, Thackeray, Coleman (Angus 90+2), Edmond (Howell 69), Cole, Johnson, Forinton, Blake (Eyre 83) Sub not used: Richardson.