AN ACCURATE swing of Chris Brandon's boot ensured 10-man Town cleared a tricky FA Cup hurdle at Worcester and booked a plum third-round trip to glamour club Chelsea.
The midfielder's sweet strike from the edge of the penalty area came in the 61st minute and rewarded the visitors' professional approach to a tricky tie which while not a classic, provided plenty of incident for the 4,163 shoehorned into St George's Lane and the wider audience via the BBC.
Town had been at a numerical disadvantage since the 43rd minute, when Danny Schofield was red carded for a second bookable offence.
There was no disputing the second yellow, brandished when Berkshire referee Iain Williamson ruled that the midfielder had taken a dive in the Worcester box.
But the first, shown after just five minutes for taking a free-kick too quickly, was more open to debate.
Luckily for Town, the Conference North side were already showing signs of fatigue, and had abandoned their close harrying tactics, by the time Schofield walked.
And even after taking a half-time breather, they were never able to put Town under any sustained pressure.
There were sporadic chances, but thanks to the bravery of goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and the cool work of centre-backs Nathan Clarke and David Mirfin, Town were able to ease to their 19th win in 22 clashes with non-league sides in the FA Cup.
Worcester player-manager Andy Preece, who had been hoping to take the sixth league scalp in Worcester's history, admitted: "I'm disappointed.
"I can't fault our effort, but we lacked a little bit of discipline in our shape and that cost us a goal.
"We also lacked a little bit of quality when playing against 10 men.
"We should have moved the ball further out wide to stretch Huddersfield and create openings.
"We created half a dozen decent chances, but not as many as we should have done."
Worcester's first opportunity came in only the second minute, with Rachubka smothering the ball at the base of his right-hand post as Chris Smith shot from a cross by right-back Rob Warner, who was a key contributor to many of his side's attacking forays.
When Schofield eventually took the free-kick after his first booking (the referee later cautioned Jon Worthington and Danny Adams and four Worcester men), Andy Booth and Gary Taylor-Fletcher had shots blocked then saved respectively.
Then, on 12 minutes, Booth brought a fine save from Danny McDonnell with a close-range header from a Mark Hudson free-kick.
Andy Holdsworth produced a timely clearance as Worcester responded with a teasing Nick Colley cross.
Then, on 27 minutes, Graham Hyde, an FA Cup finalist with Sheffield Wednesday in 1993, had a shot blocked by Clarke.
Even though they were finding it hard to play their normal passing game on an uneven pitch, Town still created plenty of attacks, and won a series of free-kicks in dangerous positions.
Adams floated one onto the roof of the net, and then from Hudson's set-piece delivery, Brandon glanced a header across the face of goal.
Schofield had a 35th-minute shot well saved by McDonnell before Taylor-Fletcher's attempted chip went too high.
A minute into the second half, Brandon's angled shot was parried before the home side threatened on 51 minutes, when Leon Kelly seized on a mix-up between Rachubka and Mirfin only for Clarke to clear.
Mirfin returned the favour on 66 minutes, when Rachubka's poor kicked clearance from a back pass let in Kelly for what appeared to be a likely leveller.
The goalkeeper recovered well to smother the striker's shot, then Mirfin hacked away Tom Warmer's follow-up.
Worcester, with nothing to lose, never gave up.
Adam Webster, who had scored in all four previous rounds for Worcester, headed wide after 69 minutes before Clarke virtually sat on the ball to prevent Des Lyttle netting in an 87th-minute scramble.
Then, in time added on, Preece had a header cleared before Kelly volleyed over.
Next page: Man of the Match >>>
Man of the Match: Paul Rachubka
His dodgy clearance from a 66th-minute backpass could have proved costly, but Town's goalkeeper showed bravery and agility to help achieve a clean sheet and a place in round three.
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka The green-shirted one must have been black and blue after fearlessly hurling himself into the firing line several times. Rating: 8/10
Andy Holdsworth Kept a tight rein on left wing-back Les Hines and did some useful mopping up work to play his part in the clean sheet. Rating: 6/10
Danny Adams Perfectly at home in this no-nonsense physical battle, but could have done without picking up a booking. Rating: 6/10
Mark Hudson Got through plenty of work in the centre of midfield. Tackled well and tried hard to spark some attacks. Rating: 7/10
Nathan Clarke Another calm and solid display against the pace of Adam Webster and physical approach of Leon Kelly. Rating: 7/10
David Mirfin Worked well in tandem with Clarke, Rachubka and the full-backs to foil Worcester's spirited bid for goals and glory. Rating: 7/10
Jon Worthington Not at his best, and had a be careful after a booking, but good workrate, especially after the sending off. Rating: 6/10
Gary T-Fletcher Tried his best to make an impression up front, but this wasn't his day, and gave way to Pawel Abbott at half-time. Rating: 6/10
Chris Brandon Tracked back with hunger diligence, went forward dangerously and took his winning goal really well. Rating: 7/10
Andy Booth Had to use all his height and experience in a tough aerial contest. Reinforced the defence well when needed. Rating: 7/10
Danny Schofield Not a memorable display, although the red card, which rules him out at MK Dons tomorrow, was harsh. Rating: 6/10
Spotlight on the ref:
It's unusual to see a player booked for taking a free-kick too quickly, and Iain Williamson , from Berkshire, was perhaps a little too fast to show the first yellow card to Schofield. His decision to caution Worcester's Adam Webster, who caught Paul Rachubka but was making a play for a loose ball, was also questionable.
It has to be Chris Brandon's 61st-minute goal. His third of the season was well struck from the edge of the area and knocked the stuffing out of Worcester and their fans. The home side, although a man to the good, were looking fatigued and from the moment the ball hit the net, were up against it.
Town substitutes: Abbott (for Taylor-Fletcher, HT). Not used: Carss, T Clarke, Collins, Senior.
Worcester City: McDonnell, Warner, Hines, Smith, Thompson, Lyttle, Colley (Wedgbury, 86mins), Hyde (Clegg, 63mins), Kelly, Webster, Warmer (Preece, 74mins). Subs not used: McDonald, Hodnett.