JUBILANT Town were preparing to travel to Reading with their sights trained firmly on a tantalising target - their highest Division II placing of the season.
Steve Smith's improving side leaped four slots from bottom to 18th in the table on the strength of a richly-deserved 2-1 win over `bogey' club Shrewsbury at Gay Meadow.
Skipper Ian Banks set Town on the road to victory with his seventh goal of the season while strike ace Duncan Shearer was also on target as he netted his 18th goal of the campaign to go four adrift of the Second Division's top marksman - Portsmouth's Mick Quinn.
Striker David Cork produced a man-of-the-match performance as Town buried their Shrewsbury hoodoo and the fans' rapturous celebrations sent shockwaves through Shropshire.
And, as the Leeds Road camp turned their attentions to Elm Park, manager Smith had some words of encouragement for his confident players and the loyal followers who filled the Gay Meadow ground with cheers.
"At last we've got some reward for our efforts by climbing up the table and hopefully now we are on the way," said a delighted Smith.
He knew victory at Elm Park, where former Town physio John Haselden was second in command, would take Town 16th, and they had not been higher than that all season.
It was a prospect which Town, beaten once in seven league games since Smith replaced Mick Buxton in December, were relishing after demolishing a proud Shrewbury home record which had brought 28 of their 33 points and seen them unbeaten in league action at Gay Meadow for four months.
Smith said: "I could tell beforehand in the dressing room - by the way the players were talking among themselves and acting - that something was going to happen and I couldn't ask any more in their attitude and commitment.
"They knew what was expected of them and went out there and produced the goods."
Smith paid tribute to striker Cork who produced excellent form despite being confined to bed with flu-like symptoms only the day before.
"Corky did particularly well and he could have had a hat trick in the first half," he said.
"In fact, we could have won by four or five and the only thing which annoyed me about the whole performance was the David Geddis goal for Shrewsbury.
"It came from a mistake by us and I'd told the lads at half time that the only way Shrewsbury would get back into the game was if we handed it to them.
"Nevertheless, they picked the game up again after that and it was nice to see Duncan Shearer getting a tap-in for a change."
Town lost the match at Reading 3-2 but they avoided the drop that season, finishing 17th. They were relegated the following campaign.