Edi Appleton believes the AFC Rushden & Diamonds squad is well equipped for a promotion push in the Evo-Stik Southern League Division Central.
The former Corby Town defender made his first full appearance for Diamonds since joining the club last month in last weekend’s 1-0 success at Petersfield Town, which was secured by Claudiu Hoban’s late strike.
Andy Peaks’ side sit in second place and are now preparing to take on fellow high-fliers Royston Town at the Dog & Duck on Saturday after their midweek clash with leaders St Ives Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Appleton was delighted to play a key role in a win and a clean sheet in his first start for the club.
And while he knows there is still a long way to go in the race for promotion, the centre-half believes the league is beginning to take shape.
“I really enjoyed it,” Appleton said as he reflected on last weekend’s game.
“The lads have made me feel welcome and I knew a few of them already.
“It was a perfect result really. We had a battle on a tough pitch but we also tried to play a bit of football as well.
“To be honest, with the chances we missed in the first half, I thought it was going to be a 0-0 because I never felt we would concede.
“It was a big relief when Claudiu scored the goal and when you are up there, those games tend to go in your favour.
“It all starts to take shape at this time of year but it is a long season and we know nothing has been done yet.
“It’s good to be right up there and this is a very positive club with good people involved.
“But when I came here, in the back of my mind was the desire to get promoted and I think everyone shares that. We just have to keep our feet on the ground and keep going.
“It would have been a big game on Tuesday but it’s another big one at the weekend as well because Royston are up there as well.
“There is a lot of experience and quality in the squad and I think we are well equipped to deal with any situation that may arise.
“Things won’t always go to plan but as long as there is that togetherness in the squad then we will be fine.”
Appleton was handed his first start at the heart of the defence with Liam Dolman serving the first of a three-match ban.
And he knows he will have to continue to perform well if he is to “keep the shirt”.
“Liam is a good defender, so is Delroy (Gordon) and I like to think I am okay as well,” he added.
“Having competition for places is a good thing because you can’t try to win a league with just 11 players.
“I got my chance to start last weekend and it’s up to me to try to keep the shirt.
“I know that if I am not doing it then someone else will so I will do all I can to keep my place.”