IN-FORM striker Jon Stead believes Town will bag the points this Christmas to put them right back in the promotion hunt.
The 20-year-old frontman netted his 15th goal of the season and his fourth in five matches as Town closed the gap on the top seven with Saturday's 1-1 draw against Oxford at the McAlpine.
While disappointed not to edge the win they deserved, Town will now head to second-bottom Darlington on Boxing Day determined to end their away hoodoo and prepare for home clashes with Bury and leaders Doncaster which could push them back into the play-off placings.
"We are disappointed not to have beaten Oxford, but the lads are very confident we are going to challenge for promotion this season and we are aiming for nothing else," said Stead today.
"Saturday's was a massive improvement in performance, so we are pleased about that, but we know we've now got to take it on our travels because we've been a shambles away from home.
"Even though we felt it was two points dropped on our part, hopefully the result against Oxford can be the start of a good little run we can put together over Christmas and, by the New Year, we can be in a lot better position."
Town are four points off the play-offs as they get ready to tackle a Darlington side who lost 1-0 at home to Macclesfield on Saturday.
Stead's 37th-minute deflected shot was only the 15th goal Oxford have conceded in 22 Third Division matches this season, and they looked to be heading for a first defeat in 13 until Mark Rawle equalised in a late upsurge after striker Julian Alsop had been sent off for a bust-up with Efe Sodje.
Town were down to 10 men at the time because Danny Schofield was having three stitches in a gashed right eye and substitute Dwayne Mattis had not got on the pitch. They were later down to 10 permanently as Lee Fowler saw red for the second time this term.
"Three points would have been nice, but we were pleased to keep our home run going and now know we've got to go up to Darlington and produce the goods," explained Stead.
"There have been a lot of meetings between the lads and the staff in the last week to try and work out exactly what's going wrong away from home, because we all know it's got to be put right.
"We'll be doing our best to achieve that at Darlington and everyone will be giving 100%, just like they did on Saturday."
Scouts from five Premiership clubs and four from the First Division were in a crowd of 9,368 to watch Stead less than a fortnight before the transfer window opens again.
News of interest has been quiet since Sunderland's £800,000 was turned down and Nottingham Forest and Glasgow Rangers were rumoured to be keeping watch.
"I'm very happy to have scored 15 goals at this stage because if I keep that rate going, it will be 30 for the season and any striker would be delighted with that," said the level-headed Academy product who was Town's man of the match.
"It's great to be taking my chances and to be getting in some good positions and, even when I'm not finding the net, I'm hitting the target, making keepers work and not blazing chances wide like I was last season.
"It's always good to score, but I'm happy that I'm creating chances for other people as well.
"It's easy for strikers just to think about scoring goals, but I like to play a bit of football as well and if I can lay on a few opportunities for other people, then that's great."