ALDERSHOT Town boss Terry Brown is close to completing his championship-chasing jigsaw with the first of a three-pronged arrival this week.
Brown confirmed he is looking for "a couple of new faces" to strengthen his title bid — and is expected to make the first of these new signings later in the week.
With Richard Gell gone to Aylesbury and further activity in Brown's out basket last week, the boss is close to reducing his wage budget in order to launch an attempt to fend off Canvey Island and finally land the Ryman premier division title.
The future of ten-goal striker Paul Moody — seen by many as the final piece to Brown's jigsaw when he signed in the summer — now looks bleak as assistant boss Stuart Cash confirmed on Monday that he is "99.9% sure" Moods will accept a pay offer to leave the club with immediate affect.
The former Oxford hitman has never proved his fitness in his six-month reign and hasn't started a first team game since November 30.
But Brown's hopes of landing his new target could be scuppered by outcast midfielder Adam Parker, who has refused his pay offer and remains unwanted by Brown on the wage budget.
But many fans will wonder what the panic is as Brown's men continued their title charge with a fine 4-0 win at Heybridge Swifts on Saturday.
Brown and the team will be taking a well-earned rest for the next couple of weeks, as they have no fixtures arranged until March 1 — and they can go into the break with confidence, knowing that their biggest league win of the season still fends off their sole title rivals Canvey by a full seven points.
And Saturday's game also produced a bit of club history as youth teamer Luke Walker climbed off the substitute's bench to become the youngest ever player to don the red and blu at just 16 years and 213 days — beating the previous record set by Mark Garvey by just 21 days.
Brown's men dominated Saturday's encounter against third-bottom Swifts, putting paid to a previous away hoodoo of five successive trips without a win.
Paul Buckle and Lee Charles forced chances within the first five minutes but Swifts keeper Darren Placid was on hand to pull off a superb double save.
But the first goal didn't take long in coming — Lee Holsgrove feeding the ball through to Lee Charles on the edge of the box and his shot found the back of the net, via a deflection, to give the Shots the lead after just 12 minutes.
The home side had a penalty appeal turned down on 20 minutes when Shots' new England keeper Nikki Bull went in for a challenge with Akpo Sodje, only for referee Cox to turn them down on their only real sighting of goal.
And the Shots replied in the best possible way when key new signing Ray Warburton added his name to score sheet for the first time six minutes before half-time.
The Swifts tried in vain to hit back, but did create a few half chances. Much-travelled striker KK Opara was inches wide of the target and seconds later another strike from the home side saw a superb reaction save from Bull who palmed it over the crossbar.
Indeed their cause wasn't helped when keeper Placid had to go off with a back injury after keeping out Holsgrove's shot, giving the Shots the perfect incentive to bomb forward and take full advantage.
Soon after Anthony Charles had a superb header cleared off the line, Paul Buckle orchestrated a third goal for the first time in eight games when his 77th-minute cross was turned in his own net by the unfortunate Danny Barber.
Walker's cameo appearance impressed the Shots faithful having come on for Jason Chewins, but just when it seemed things were going swimmingly for the Shots, Jason Cousins was stretchered off and had to have six stitches to a leg wound.
But they weren't finished yet and with the clock ticking down, Holsgrove capped a fine performance with a fantastic 25-yard strike into the top left corner to make it four.
That elusive strike for goal-starved Stafford Browne was, for a second week running, ruled out by the officials for offside, but it didn't dampen his namkesake manager's spirits.
Brown said: "Lee [Charles] needed that goal for his own confidence and it lifted the boys but to be fair I think we had enough opportunities to record a 4-0 win, I'm also pleased that we managed to keep a clean sheet."
Speaking about the possibility of a new signing "We've got some time to get a new face or two in, anything we can do to get an edge over anybody else we'll do.
I think I need a new forward so that's what I'll be looking at over the next couple of weeks," he added.
SHOTS: Bull, Hooper, Chewins (sub Walker 79mins), Cousins (Cooper 80), Warburton (A Charles 62), Sterling, L Charles, Holsgrove, Buckle, Browne, D'sane. Not used: Lauder-Dyke.
Att: 503. Ref: Mr P Cox
l The home match with Aylesbury United, postponed due to the Ducks' FA Trophy commitments, has been re-scheduled for Tuesday April 1, ko 7.45pm. The outstanding fixture at Hendon is also likely to be played in April.
l Aldershot Town are currently discussing a number of options with regard to the two-legged Hampshire Senior Cup semi final with Andover.
The option of playing on Saturday February 22 and March 22 has been put to the Hampshire FA and an answer is expected next week. If not then the likely dates are Tuesday March 11 and 18.
l Chelsea Reserves were due to take on Coventry City as the Mail went to press on Monday (ko 7pm).