Daventry Town are only third favourites behind Kettering Town and Rugby Town to clinch the Southern League’s Central Division championship this season.
Bookmakers BetVictor rate the Purple Army 8/1 to take this season’s crown, while front-runners Kettering and Rugby are much shorter prices at 7/4 and 9/2 respectively.
But Daventry boss Darran Foster has other ideas and expects his team to challenge at the top despite retaining only a handful of his 2013-14 first-team regulars.
Foster said: “I’m encouraged by the signings we have made this summer and am hopefully looking forward to another promotion bid.”
Latest recruits to the Purple Army’s cause are former Oxford United apprentice Jamie Calvin and accomplished left back Jack Walden who played his football in Holland last winter.
Goalkeeper Richard Morris, Ollie Wilkinson, Josh Blake, Ryan Howell and Josh O’Grady will have to adapt to a host of other new faces including Nathan Haines, Josh Cole, Mitchell Piggon and Dior Angus as well as the returning Tom Berwick and Kyle Cartwright.
Calvin and the evergreen Blake both scored hat-tricks in Saturday’s hammering of South Midlands League runners-up Ampthill but the Town will probably need a minimum of 50 goals from their strikers to gain SL promotion at the fifth time of asking.
That statistic will put the pressure on Piggon, Calvin and Berwick who looks to have regained his footballing joie de vivre after forsaking the beaches of Ibiza for the less obvious delights of Browns Road.
Last season’s Daventry top scorer Ashley Robinson managed only 16 league goals but still outgunned Luke Keen (now at Rushall Olympic) and Scott Cross (Bedford Town). Significantly though the defence conceded less than a goal a game.
Since then club captain Liam Dolman, Adam Confue, Ross Oulton and Marcel Simpson have been lured away by the big bucks on offer from AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Kettering Town and Rugby Town.
Manager Foster meanwhile has quietly replenished his stock even though the bookies make the Poppies 7/4 title favourites followed by Rugby.
Kettering could be under-priced as leading marksman Elliot Sandy has joined newly-promoted Dunstable whilst talented central defender Henry Eze has undergone trials with Conference club Nuneaton.
Simpson no doubt will steady Rugby’s shaky defence with the Warwickshire outfit also boosted by 37-goal David Kolodynski’s decision to sign on for another season at Butlin Road.
Reliable strikers are all-important. Two years ago Ryan Bird scored an incredible 45 goals in 42 league games for champions Burnham before gaining a professional contract with AFC Portsmouth.
Lee Roache also hit the jackpot for champions Dunstable last season whilst play-offs winners Slough Town were boosted by the joint tally of front-runners Ed Smith and Johnnie Dyer.