Tom Lorraine believes this season represents AFC Rushden & Diamonds’ best-ever chance to gain promotion from Step Four.
The striker’s eighth goal of the season opened the scoring in Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Cambridge City as Diamonds moved to the top of the Evo-Stik South League East table after previous leaders Moneyfields had their unbeaten record ended in a 3-2 loss to Uxbridge.
Diamonds are now gearing up to take on Hartley Wintney at Hayden Road on Saturday and Lorraine has promotion firmly on his mind.
The club’s all-time leading goalscorer was there when Diamonds lost to St Ives Town in the play-off final two seasons ago and when they were beaten by Witton Albion in the Evo-Stik League South play-off semi-final in April.
But, with two automatic promotion places on offer this season due to a restructure next summer, Lorraine insists Diamonds only have one aim.
“I think everyone is confident that we have a squad here that is as strong, if not stronger than we have ever had,” the frontman said.
“A couple of years ago we had our best chance when we were in the Southern League before and we were disappointed to finish in the play-offs and then to lose in the final was horrible.
“Last season, in the Northern League, the quality of the teams was a lot better but this season we have played the majority of the teams now and I don’t think we have come across one that is better than us.
“With the personnel we have here, I think we have the best chance of gaining promotion from this level than we have ever had.
“The aim is to get automatic promotion.
“We don’t want any games after the last one of the season, we want the league trophy in our arms and we will do what we have to do to achieve that.”
Lorraine, meanwhile, insists any criticism that comes his way only motivates him to do even better.
Despite his impressive record for Diamonds, there have been question marks from some quarters about him but once again he has proved any doubters wrong as he followed up a goal in the 2-0 win at Ashford Town (Middx) last weekend with another in midweek.
“The most important thing is that the team is winning but if I am playing and chipping in with goals, that’s what I want to be doing,” he added.
“I think there is more to my game than just the goalscoring and I think the manager and coaches know that and appreciate that.
“People will always put you down and say that you are past it or that others should be starting but that just spurs me on and gives me motivation to prove people wrong.
“At the moment, I am pleased with how I am playing and pleased the ball is hitting the net and long may it continue.”