ACCRINGTON Stanley striker Paul Mullin is hitting top gear as the table topping Reds enter a crucial stage of the season.
Their 11-goal top scorer has found the back of the net five times in the last four games as Stanley have opened up a six point gap at the top of the Conference table and got through to the last 16 of the FA Trophy.
And it is a case of Cambridge beware as the mid-table side come to the Interlink tomorrow (Sat) with the hitman in hot form and chasing that target of 20 goals he has achieved for the last two seasons.
"It is going well for me at the minute," said the 31-year-old, as the Reds are on a 14 game unbeaten run in all competitions
"They just seem to be rolling in. I don't think I am playing any better or any worse than I was when I wasn't scoring but it is just the way things pan out. If you keep going in the right areas then it will fall for you. Saying that, I have missed a few too! But I am aiming for 20 and anything else is a bonus."
The Burnley-born frontman, who has been with the Reds for six years, says he is not surprised by how well this season is going for Stanley - but he knows Cambridge could spring a surprise as they did at the Abbey Stadium earlier in the campaign.
The U's were 3-0 up at half-time, mainly thanks to Stanley's debutant Darlington loan keeper Bertrand Bossu who threw the first goal into his own net and it was the Reds first defeat of the season.
"We were pretty poor," admitted Mullin. "We had a goalkeeper who hasn't played for us since and didn't have the best of games. We never recovered from the early goal and just folded like a pack of cards and after that, to be honest, I thought we were going to be in for a long season.
"But I think the turning point was the Worcester defeat in the FA Cup. We were so down after that and there were a lot of words said by the team and the staff which needed to be said. Then we had York straight after that and it was a massive game for us to win. And since then we haven't looked back. The team spirit and the confidence has grown and it is just a winning mentality.
"When things do not go well for us in games, we always think we can get back into it as we know we can score goals."
The goals are being shared around with Ian Craney and Gary Roberts on nine goals; David Brown on seven and Steve Jagielka on six.
"We are lucky that we can score all over the park," said Mullin, "It is not just me and Lee McEvilly that are weighing in with the goals like it was last season.
"Ian, Gary, Jaggers and Browny are weighing in and, for a side to do things, you have to have that in your squad. If I am having an off-day, Ian is scoring or, if Gary isnt scoring, Browny will and Andy Mangan has got a lot of pace and has come off the bench and scored a few. I am sure he will be into double figures by the end of the season."
Rommy Boco and Roberts have got plenty of assists and Mullin has been impressed by what they have brought to the side.
"They have both got qualities that will take them higher in the game. Boco is an unknown quantity - he is one to me sometimes! - but he is great to have on the pitch and the fans love him because he is something different. Gary Roberts has been superb and I am just getting a bit of an understanding with him and getting on the end of his crosses. It has taken a bit of time but it has come. They will both go on and have good careers in the game."
Boss John Coleman will be forced into changes as left back Leam Richardson is suspended tomorrow while Jagielka is still battling with a knee injury.
And the manager is desperate for another league win and to keep that run going of scoring in every game.
"It is good to go unbeaten but if you chip in with one or two draws it doesn't half affect your league position," said Coleman. "That's why it is important to win home games and that is why the Cambridge game is bordering on the biggest match of the season. We didn't give a good account of ourselves there and we have a score to settle.
"There are a couple of tastey ties too with Morecambe playing Exeter and York facing Grays. Teams will drop points so a win is important."
U's boss Rob Newman has been impressed with Stanley: "They have a good work ethic and some technically gifted players. They have got consistencey and I am sure, if they go up, they will be more than capable of competing in a higher division."
- STANLEY'S Lancashire FA United Co-op Challenge Cup quarter-final at Burscough has been rearranged for Tuesday 7 February.
- ONE-TIME Reds striker Brett Ormerod, from Accrington, is being linked with a move from Champion-ship side Southampton to Preston.
- IAN Craney and Gary Roberts are in the initial squad for the England National Game XI European Challenge Trophy clash with Italy at Cambridge on 15 February.