Shrewsbury Town 4 Darlington 0
Hovering just above the relegation zone and in trouble with the Football League after their team bus failed to arrive at Bury on Boxing Day after being caught in heavy motorway traffic – causing the match to be abandoned – this was just the fillip the Shrewsbury faithful wanted as three first half goals put the outcome beyond doubt.
With only one win in his Gay Meadow reign since being appointed in mid-November, Shrews boss Gary Peters saw his struggling side put high-flying Darlington to the sword.
The visitors were blown away with goals in the opening half from fit-again winger Sam Aiston and a brace from midfielder Jamie Tolley, before a teenage midfield man David Edwards completed the scoring at the death.
On a difficult surface that made intricate passing play difficult, Shrewsbury decided direct was best with twin strikers Kelvin Langmead and John Grant quickly making life difficult for the Darlington defence.
And despite some concerted pressure, the home side were kept at bay until the 32nd minute - but once they broke the deadlock the floodgates opened.
Darlington keeper Sam Russell could not hold Neil Ashton's curling cross and when the ball dropped from his grasp, Aiston was on hand to steer the ball home from six yards.
Worse was to follow for Russell, who was beaten again on 25 minutes when Tolley's in-swinging free-kick went through a crowd of players and into the net.
And with Shrewsbury rampant, Tolley exchanged passes with Langmead to crash home his second and the home side's third a minute before the break.
Shrewsbury kept the upper hand for most of the second half and despite one or two close calls were unable to increase their winning margin until Edwards struck a fine solo goal in stoppage time.