LATICS romped to victory with a flurry of goals against Northampton to warm home fans’ hearts on a bitterly cold afternoon befitting of Boundary Park’s “Ice Station Zebra” tag.

A sizzling brace from Jack Byrne either side of a Tope Obadeyi header gave Athletic a 3-0 half-time lead.

And though the visitors pulled one back shortly after the break, they were never really in it as the hosts rounded things off through Gevaro Nepomuceno and Craig Davies.

On a day dedicated to the emergency services, the fans – and some of the non-playing first-team squad – who volunteered to shift snow from the Boundary Park playing surface were the real heroes as they took to their shovels to get this game on.

Woolly hats off to them. It was a monumental effort considering Bury’s clash with AFC Wimbledon bit the dust just down the road at Gigg Lane. At least it will have warmed them up.

Richie Wellens kept faith with Obadeyi down the right-hand side after a fine showing at Bradford on Tuesday. As expected, Rob Hunt and Byrne returned to the side but Craig Davies had to make do with a place on the bench as Athletic left Eoin Doyle to plough a lone furrow up front.

As the white stuff thankfully relented, Byrne kept his cool to put the home side ahead after only four minutes.

Linking up well with Gevaro Nepomuceno on the left side of the box, the Wigan loanee raised the temperature when he bent a beautiful floated shot beyond former Latics goalkeeper David Cornell into the top corner.

It was a beautiful finish from a man with fire in his belly and ice in his head.

Athletic doubled their lead when Obadeyi made it two goals in as many games with a bullet header from Byrne’s left-sided corner.

Two to the good inside the first half hour may sound like Latics were having it all their own way. While neat, attractive football was again in evidence from Wellens’ men, the visitors, under the tutelage of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, did have their moments. What they lacked was any real firepower - something in their manager’s image could have reaped rewards.

Latics, on the other hand, were finding goals rather easier to come by and made it three in first-half stoppage time.

Byrne struck again with a deflected shot from the edge of the area which wrong-footed Cornell and effectively put this one to bed with 45 minutes still to play . . . or so you would have thought.

The Cobblers hot-footed it out of the traps in the second half and pulled a goal back when Sam Foley latched on to Anthony Gerrard’s heavy pinged back pass to Placide and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Northampton had briefly sparked back to life. They would soon melt away.

Athletic struck again when Nepomuceno bundled home following a lovely one-two between Byrne and Doyle. As the ’keeper raced off his line to narrow the angle, Doyle attempted to gently lift the ball beyond him. The Town stopper deflected the effort but Nepomuceno was on hand to crash in from close range.

Latics should have had a fifth when Doyle, all alone in the area, met Nepomuceno’s left-wing centre but somehow volleyed wide from six yards.

They did make it five when Davies slid home an Aaron Amadi-Holloway right-wing cross in added time.

LATICS (4-5-1): Placide, Dummigan, Hunt, Gerrard, Bryan; Fane, Gardner, Byrne (Amadi-Holloway 89), Nepomuceno (Davies 87), Obadeyi (Flynn 77); Doyle. Subs (not used): Ben Wilson, Brian Wilson, Menig, Green. Booked: Nepomuceno, Fane.

NORTHAMPTON: Cornell, Moloney, Buchanan, Barnett, Taylor, Waters (Smith 66), Foley, Long, Crooks, Poole, Grimes. Subs (not used): Coddington, Richards, Pierre, O’Toole, McGivern, McGugan. Booked Buchanan, Taylor.

Attendance: 3,532 (332 away)

Referee: Graham Salisbury.