Boss Ryan Maxwell feels Sittingbourne are ready for a promotion challenge.
The Brickies have climbed to second place in Isthmian South East after two home wins in four days.
They thrashed Erith & Belvedere 6-0 at Woodstock on Saturday and defeated Herne Bay 2-0 last night.
It’s now just two defeats in 20 league games stretching back to last season.
Maxwell led Sittingbourne out of the relegation zone into mid-table safety after taking over in January.
His intention was to challenge for promotion this season - and there are grounds for optimism a couple of months into the campaign.
“It’s different looking at the league now than when we took over,” said Maxwell, whose side are at Burgess Hill this Saturday (3pm).
“It was a different goal at the time.
“We weren’t looking at the top, we were just looking to make sure we comfortably stayed in the division, which we did.
“Now, we’ve got an eye on a promotion. That’s what we’re here for.
“There’s some very strong sides in the league, some very well-backed clubs financially and some with 3G pitches, which is a massive help, let me tell you.
“We know it’s a tough ask but that’s part of the challenge and part of the reason we wanted to stay here and get our teeth into it.
“I love a challenge, and so do my staff, and the players have to be in the same mould as well. We’re up to it. I think we’re ready for it.
“No one knocks on your door and gives you results - you have to work for them.
“And when you do start getting results, people try even harder to stop you because you’ve alerted them to the fact you’re a good side. That means we have to work even harder.
“I think the penny has started to drop. I get a feeling about the group that they’re settling down now.
“They know what we have to do, these are the standards and it’s all about keeping them high at all times.”
Defender Bagasan Graham starred in Sittingbourne’s big win over Erith & Belvedere, scoring twice.
He’s one of the few survivors from the squad Maxwell inherited - and has more than proved his worth.
“We’ve changed Bags’ position,” said Maxwell.
“He was playing as a winger, let’s not forget.
“With me, he’s become a left-sided centre-half and on Saturday he played left-back.
“I love Bags to bits. He’s a brilliant person, a tremendous athlete and a great footballer.
“He’s an absolute joy to have around the place and on Saturday he rolled back the years.
“The pace and power were there and the two goals are fantastic strikes. He’s hit both so true.
“He’s been consistent in everything he’s done and that’s why he’s survived.
“He’ll be a big part of what we do this season.”
Javaun Splatt and Jean-Baptiste Fischer scored penalties, with Chris Harris and Manny Osei-Owusu also on target in a sparkling Sittingbourne performance against the Deres.
“We were pleased with the scoreline,” said Maxwell.
“We were probably waiting to do that to someone, if I’m honest.
“They’re a good side with aspirations of being in the play-offs with the players they’ve signed, which makes the result even more pleasing, and we could have had more.
“What really pleased me was the fact all three subs came on and contributed a lot to the game.
“Manny scored one and made one, Toch Singh kept the ball moving for us and Sadik Balarabe was a threat against his old club and hit the post.
“How are you going to get in the starting line-up if you don’t make an impact when you come on? It was a real group performance.
“There was a real togetherness about us, even the ones who didn’t come on.
“I’m especially delighted for Manny because he came on against Sevenoaks last week (2-2 draw) and tried so hard to impress and nothing was coming off.
“I told him to relax and enjoy himself and do what comes naturally and he was excellent. He’s given me a headache.”
Harris and D’Sean Theobalds scored second-half goals as Sittingbourne continued their good form against Herne Bay.