Oliver scores twice and Van Veen sees red as Cobblers ease to victory against Scunthorpe United
Kevin van Veen saw red against his former club as Cobblers continued their excellent run of form when sweeping aside Scunthorpe United with a 3-0 victory at the PTS Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Vadaine Oliver's header handed Town an early lead but the evening's big talking point came eight minutes from half-time when van Veen was sent off for raising both hands and pushing Town captain Charlie Goode.
That delighted home supporters and their evening only improved further when Oliver scrambled in a second goal on the hour before Sam Hoskins blasted home from the spot to complete an impressive victory, particularly as they were without two key men.
That's now eight unbeaten in all competitions for the Cobblers and 11 without defeat at home, cementing their place in the Sky Bet League Two play-off positions.
Curle made two changes from the cup draw against Derby, one of which was enforced as Jordan Turnbull missed out through injury and was replaced by Joe Martin.
Arsenal loanee James Olayinka made his debut in place of Chris Lines and he made an instant impression with a vibrant start in central midfield, helping create the opening goal just seven minutes in.
He picked up possession in midfield and spread the ball wide to Nicky Adams, whose delightful cross was glanced into the bottom corner by Oliver.
Olayinka was at the centre of things for Town and he played his part in a couple of decent moves as Adams' cross was just too high for Andy Williams before Anderson saw a shot blocked.
Abo Eisa, whose earlier shot was easy for David Cornell, was a real handful down United's left flank but otherwise the visitors didn't really test Town's makeshift defence throughout the first-half.
The hosts didn't create a string of chances themselves although they were close to a second on the half-hour when Anderson volleyed Adams' cross a couple of yards over the crossbar.
Van Veen was getting booed every time he touched the ball but home fans soon had a reason to cheer.
With 37 minutes gone, he clashed with Goode, seemingly pushing Town's skipper in the chest and referee Sam Purkiss brandished a straight red card.
The former Town man was waved off the pitch by the majority of supporters inside the PTS and they were nearly cheering again a few minutes later with Goode heading against the post.
Anderson and Sam Hoskins were narrowly wide with decent efforts but Town's one-goal lead at half-time was a slender one and that was underlined when the menacing Eisa tore down the left, darted inside and fired in a goalbound shot that was well-blocked.
Ian Lawlor saved with his legs from Adams but United weren't looking like a team with 10 men and they nearly levelled through George Miller, who scuffed wide at the back post.
Callum Morton and Mark Marshall were introduced for their debuts and despite not really finding their mojo in the second-half, Town were two to the good just past the hour-mark.
After doing well initially, Hoskins was fortunate his errant pass took a deflection and fell perfectly for Oliver who scuffed his first shot but got a second go and, with the goalkeeper wrong-footed, made no mistake to double his and Town's tally.
That took the wind from Scunthorpe's sails and the points were made safe 20 minutes from time.
Hoskins dispatched the spot-kick with impressive conviction but much of the credit went to young Morton after he showed good anticipation when nicking the ball off United's defence and powering through on goal before drawing the foul.
Oliver slashed a hat-trick chance wide and Cornell pulled off a fine stop in stoppage-time but, those moments aside, the game petered out with Town's victory already in the bang.
Cobblers: Cornell, Harriman, Goode, Martin, Watson, Olayinka, Anderson (Marshall 54), Adams, Hoskins (Lines 75), Williams (Morton 54), Oliver
Subs not used: Arnold, Hall-Johnson, Roberts, Warburton
Scunthorpe: Lawlor, Lund, Butler (c), Perch, Lawrence-Gabriel, Gilliead, McGahey, Eisa, Bedau, McAtee (Miller 41), van Veen
Subs not used: Watson, Sutton, Beestin, Cummings, O'Malley, Pugh
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Scunthorpe fans: 181