Justin Bennett has told his Gosport Borough rivals: Hands off my golden boot.
The club’s record scorer moved on to 196 Borough goals and took his season’s tally to 12 with a double in the 3-1 win at Eastbourne on Saturday that lifted Borough ever closer to Skrill South safety.
Alex Pike’s men can take another giant step towards securing their status with a victory over Basingstoke at Privett Park tonight (7.45pm) knowing that seven more points will mathematically seal survival.
But it’s unlikely they will require that many and in fact may already have enough.
While Bennett remains fully focused on helping Borough complete what would be a fine season of consolidation after their two successive promotions, he admits his mind could turn to another objective as soon as safety has been achieved.
And that means a head-to-head battle with team-mate Rory Williams to become Borough’s leading goalscorer.
Bennett said: ‘I think we need two more wins to be safe. That should definitely do it.
‘We’ve got a couple of games that look like they are definitely winnable, especially with the way we’re playing at the moment.
‘But there are still points to be won so I don’t think we’re safe quite yet.
‘The win at Eastbourne puts us in a great position but we want to make sure we are playing at this level again next season.
‘But we were travelling back and someone mentioned that me and Rory were level on 12 goals now.
‘Hopefully, I can get a few more before the season ends and pip him.
‘We haven’t spoken about it but I’m sure he would want to finish as top goalscorer and so do I.
‘I’ve won the golden boot every season I’ve been at Gosport and I wouldn’t want to give it up.’
He joked: ‘As soon as we’re safe, he can forget about getting a pass for that open goal – I’ll be shooting from 40 yards if he’s ahead of me!’
Bennett, who also hit seven goals while on loan at Poole Town, has another benchmark on his mind as he bids to increase his all-time record haul.
He said: ‘I’ve set myself the target to reach 200 before the end of the season and then hopefully get a chance to increase it next season.
‘But since coming back from my loan, I feel like a different player.
‘I felt under pressure all the time before I went out and it seemed everyone was talking about the strikers not scoring.
‘But since I came back, it feels like there is no pressure – I’m just enjoying my football again.
‘The focus is still on winning as many games as we can though.
‘It’s strange but we could still be looking at trying to get into the top half of the table if we have a good finish.
‘We were still in the bottom three recently.
‘At one point, we were nine points adrift at the bottom of the table.
‘So to be six points clear with games in hand has been a great run from the whole squad.’