Cornard United head into Friday evening’s home derby with AFC Sudbury Reserves (7.45pm) on their best run of form for more than a decade.
The Ards will be looking to register their fifth straight victory with three points against Danny Laws’ young AFC side to move them into the top 12 in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division table.
It is a far cry from the situation joint managers Liam Aves and Ryan Lines inherited, with Cornard having been bottom of the league and without a win after their first six matches.
And following Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Little Oakley, which was sealed with goals from Harrison Banner and Charlie Hayes in each half, Aves admitted confidence is high.
“I was looking at the history last week and it has been 10 years since we last won three games in a row and that was when Linsey and myself were playing.
“We are really happy and the lads are full of it at the moment.
“We are really starting to get things together.
“It has taken a lot of time for us to get the squad together that is capable of competing for most things, but we are getting to the point now where we feel the squad is where we want it.”
Aves said midfielder or forward Reece Keating, who has previously won the division with Wivehoe Town, was among the players who had helped bring a winning mentality into the squad.
Young midfielder Bannister is one of the most recent players to have joined, along with loanee Rocha Foker from Brightlingsea Regent, and he took his goal tally to two from two starts after playing in the most advanced midfield role in a new 3-5-2 formation used on Saturday.
“He has done well,” said Aves.
“I knew him before from Halstead Reserves (where Aves was previously manager) and he is a very good technical player who links up well.”
Of the new set-up, he added: “We felt that in recent weeks we have come up against a lot of teams that play three in the middle, so we wanted to try and outnumber teams in midfield and get the ball down a bit more. We have the players to do that and it really worked well.”
Cornard, who are targeting finishing as high up the table as possible now to secure a return to playing in the FA Cup next season, beat AFC Sudbury Reserves 4-0 in the reverse fixture in November, despite having two players sent off later on.
“I am looking forward to a good game of football,” said Aves.
“It is a local derby but we get on well together and they will come over and play nice football like we try to.”
He added: “The main thing is we keep our run going with another three points and leapfrog them in the table.”
Meanwhile, prior to Saturday’s match, forward Ezra Drann was awarded a trophy ahead in recognition for passing 100 appearances for the club.