LEADING scorer Jon Stead believes Town are primed for a solid climb up the Third Division rankings.
The 20-year-old netted his fifth goal in six matches to seal Saturday's 2-1 win over Bristol Rovers which lifted Town three places to 16th in the table.
Top scouts Brian Greenhalgh, the former Town player who now works for Arsenal, and John McSeveney (Manchester United) were joined by representatives from West Ham, Celtic and Aberdeen in running the rule over Stead, who is now just one goal short of his tally for the whole of last season.
The player himself is simply focusing on helping boss Peter Jackson's new-look side eventually challenge for honours, and believes their first League win will have done a power of good.
"We were much better on Saturday, but the really pleasing thing is that we know there's a hell of a lot more to come from us," said Stead, who added to Rob Edwards' first-half strike before Paul Tait grabbed a late consolation for Rovers.
"We are still a long way off what we are capable of, but I thought we played good football and the win was a massive relief to everyone.
"The gaffer said before we went out that we'd got to get everyone behind us and we'd got to win, and I don't think there's any doubt we were well worth the win.
"From my point of view, the main thing was that we got back to playing football, just like we did against Sunderland in pre-season and Derby in the Carling Cup.
"We create chances when we play football and we don't create chances when we just whack it forward and hope for the flick-ons.
"I was glad we got back to football and delighted with my goal, and I'm sure we can build on this win now and keep going in the right direction."
Stead is just one goal behind the division's top marksman, Lee Trundle of Swansea, and is in the mood to get more.
"My goal came at just the right time because it killed Bristol Rovers off when they were just starting to put a little bit of pressure on us," he added.
"With the confidence I've got at the moment, I'm ready to have a go from anywhere.
"Sometimes it looks a bit silly because I'm too far out, but that doesn't really matter when we're creating the chances and I was really pleased to eventually stick one in and ensure we got the points."
A McAlpine crowd of 8,486, the second highest in the division behind Hull's 13,091, watched a Town side showing three changes to the starting line-up - Paul Scott for Steve Yates (groin), Danny Schofield for John Thorrington (ankle) and Edwards for Martyn Booty at left-back.
Jackson will be forced to make at least one more change when Town take on Bury at Gigg Lane on Saturday because Lee Fowler has joined up with the Wales Under 21 squad for matches against Italy and Finland.
Another possible change could be up front, because Stead's strike partner, Andy Booth, is under treatment for a hamstring strain which forced him off against Ray Graydon's side, who slipped from fifth to eighth on the back of their first defeat of the campaign.
"Andy was tremendous and, having just signed his new contract at the club, he led the line magnificently," said Jackson today.
"Had his shot gone in just before he came off, rather than hitting Jon Stead on the backside, I think we could have scored quite a few more, but the result was what we were after and now we can prepare for the Bury game and look for another win.
"We will have to monitor Boothy over the next couple of days to see how the injury settles down, but if he's fit he will play."
Booth, who has signed for the club on reduced terms until 2006, is hopeful of making the cross-Pennine trip.
"I felt my right hamstring go a little bit, but hopefully it's not too bad," he said.
"Once I knew, I didn't do anything too heavy before I came off, which helped, but I could feel it afterwards.
"It's not fully gone so, hopefully, it's just a little tweak."