Buoyant boss Matt Easton believes that his Spalding United side are finally starting to look the part ahead of a tricky run of November fixtures.
After a rocky start to the Evo-Stik NPL Division One East season that saw the Tulips hit rock bottom as recently as last month, Saturday’s 1-0 win at high-flying Gresley made it three games unbeaten and moved them up to 16th in the table.
Improving Spalding will need more of the same this Saturday, with fourth-placed Lincoln United the visitors to the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field (3pm).
And, with games against Pontefract (fifth place) and Tadcaster (sixth) to follow, Easton knows that his charges will need to continue their upward arc if they are to keep their unbeaten run going.
“November always looked like being a tough month,” admitted the Tulips boss. “Gresley were sixth before we beat them on Saturday, too.
“It’s an interesting period for us and one that we can enter with a degree of confidence after our recent improvement in both results and performance.
“I’ve been seeing signs of improvement for a while now, but it’s great to see the team buying into the style and system that we’ve been trying to implement.
“I’ve seen a lot more energy all over the pitch, which is vital to the way I want us to play.
“But there’s still a long way to go. I thought we dominated for long periods at Gresley, but that’s to be expected against ten men.
“It was also nice to get only our second clean sheet of the season, which obviously builds confidence.”
Saturday’s derby should prove to be a tasty affair, with Spalding boasting a host of players that are from the Lincoln area or who have links with The Whites.
Easton has a lot of respect for his immediate opponents and feels that they’ve built well over the past few seasons. He expects them to be in the mix for promotion come the end of the campaign – but also believes his Tulips will prove more than a match for them this weekend.
“As I already mentioned, I think it’ll be an interesting game,” added the Spalding supremo. “The lads will certainly be up for this one.
“I’ve seen a lot of Lincoln and they’ve done very well to build themselves up to the position where they are able to go for promotion.
“The club is very stable and they’re having a great season so far. I know what they are capable of and I expect them to be solid.
“But I know what we are capable of too and there’s no reason why we can’t go out and beat them. We have a system that suits us now and we will be going for the three points.”
One man that has links to both sides, Gary King, won’t be involved on Saturday after deciding to leave the Sir Halley on Monday after talks with Easton.
A one-time captain of the Tulips, Easton admits that he’ll miss having King around the club – but feels that the time was right for him to move on.
“Gary is a great guy,” added the Tulips chief. “He’s also been a great servant to the football club.
“We’ve got a lot of attacking options and Gary wasn’t getting as much time on the pitch as he wanted. We had a chat and he has decided it was best for him to move on.
“I’m looking to make changes here and I don’t have an unlimited budget, so it’s probably the best decision for both parties. It was just his time to go, really.
“We wish him well and will all miss having him around.”
Spalding have approaches on the table for two defenders and hope to sign at least one of them before Saturday’s derby clash. They also have no new injury concerns.
Lincoln go into the clash 11 points clear of the Tulips in the table and are only behind second-placed Marske United on goal difference.