Top scorer Brett Williams reckons extra competition for his place at Aldershot Town could inspire him to hitting the magic 30-goal mark this season.
The 26-year-old front man enjoyed his best-ever return from a season after finishing third in the Conference Premier scoring charts with 28 goals last term - and he is the 8/1 favourite to be the Vanarama Conference's top striker in 2014/15.
But with the arrival of Salisbury City hitman Dan Fitchett and plenty of other striking options available to Shots boss Andy Scott, Williams knows he cannot rest on his laurels if he is to achieve his aim of bettering his tally.
“It’s a big season for me,” Williams told the News & Mail. “Every striker gives themselves a goal target at this stage of the season and I’ll be going out to try and beat last year’s total.
“The magic mark for strikers is 20 goals and I’ll be satisfied with that as long as Aldershot enjoy a successful season too.
“The gaffer’s brought in some good players to strengthen the squad and we are certainly in a much better position that we were in last year.
“Dan [Fitchett] is one of those. He’s an exciting player and has looked really sharp in training, so he offers the whole team a boost.
“Having someone like him around, alongside a good, experienced player like Josh Scott also in the mix, will certainly help keep me on my toes. I do not want to get lazy and the gaffer won’t let me.”
Despite Williams’ goal return, the Shots, albeit with a 10-point deduction, survived relegation only by goal difference last season, but the former Reading and Eastleigh striker believes fans can expect more this term.
“We are definitely stronger than we were last year,” he added.
“The boss has told us the aim is to push for the play-offs or be there or thereabouts. I believe with the players we have here, we can do that.
“The main thing though, with the club coming out of administration, is to gain a more respectable league position this year and to avoid the kind of situation we found ourselves in last season.”
Williams, however, admitted that Saturday’s opening clash at home to newly-promoted Altrincham could represent something of a banana skin for the Shots if they are not ready to hit the ground running from the off.
“We don’t know a lot about them at all to be honest,” he revealed.
“All we do know is that they’ve just been promoted so they’ll come here to a big stadium and a big atmosphere full of confidence and with nothing to lose so that makes them a threat.
“We’ve got three of the promoted teams early in the season so that represents a tough start. We have to be on our mettle.
“But, there’s a great spirit in the camp and the boys look sharp and ready for the challenge. We can’t wait to get going.”
Boss Scott, though, is looking for a response from his Shots players after defensive gremlins allowed AFC Wimbledon trio Harry Pell, Kevin Saint Luce and Sean Rigg to hit three unanswered second-half goals on Saturday (August 2), thus ending the pre-season campaign on a low note.
“We thought we could come out and be individuals, unlike the first half when we were a team,” said Scott, who handed a debut to new loan signing Joseph N’Guessan.
“We thought we’d cracked it. I’m not happy at all.
"We’ve got better players than that, more experienced players and players who should be able to dominate games better than that.
“We didn’t do it and second-half we got our backsides felt. Not good enough.”
However, despite his obvious qualms, Scott cannot argue with the fact that his squad is in a much healthier state than this time last season, when the Shots famously travelled up for their opening day trip to Grimsby Town with a half-built squad and a 10-point deduction hanging over their necks.
“The players know the situation is a lot healthier than it was this time last year,” Scott said.
“We’ve been able to prepare in pre-season, get more players in and do what we wanted to do with them. Clearly it’s a lot easier than last year and no-one wants to go through that again.
“The whole mentality of having minus-10 points and not having a team is a tough one to start with.
"But that’s not been anything we’ve discussed. We’re on level terms and that’s where everyone normally is.
"We’ll move on and work hard on what we need to work on and we’ll get there.”