Coates chief Andy Lodge reckons latest signing Matt Heron can be a difference-maker in the race for the Peterborough & District League Premier Division title.
The former non-league frontman has hit five goals in three appearances since a surprise switch to Athletic last month.
Heron slammed in a hat-trick as lowly Crowland were spanked 7-1 last Saturday to keep Coates hot on the heels of table-toppers Oakham United.
Lodge said: “Matt is already looking to be a great signing.
“I never thought I would be able to persuade him to join as he has always played for Whittlesey Blue Star when in the Peterborough League in the past, but we are delighted to have him on board.
“He is a proven performer in non-league and he could make a real difference during the rest of the season.”
Coates are a point behind pacesetters Oakham and have played two more games. They can return to the summit on Saturday by triumphing at Sawtry as the leaders are involved in the President’s Premier Shield competition.
Lodge added: “I’m not at all surprised with how the season has panned out.
“I expected three teams - Oakham, ourselves and Netherton - to have a big say in the title race and we are the top three in the table.
“Those two sides are both involved in cup games this weekend and then play each other the next weekend, so we have the chance to get back into top spot.”
Oakham, managed by city-based Wayne Oldaker, have won their last eight Premier Division games while Netherton are in fine form under new player/boss Jon Harrison.
Like Coates, they have also made a notable striking signing with Dwayne Rankin being drafted in.
And Rankin made an immediate impact with a goalscoring debut from the substitutes’ bench as Netherton saw off Langtoft 3-2 last Saturday.
Harrison said: “Dwayne will add power and goals to the squad and it also means I can reduce my playing time and concentrate more on the management side.
“We’re going well at the moment and have come through two really tough tests against very physical sides on the last two Saturdays.
“People might have called us bottlers in the past, but not any more.”
Peterborough League presentations
Oakham United were double-winners in the latest round of Peterborough & District League monthly awards.
Their first team took the Premier Division Respect Team of the Month gong for September while the reserves received the Sportsmanship Team of the Month prize. ICA Sports were the Premier Division team of the Month while Stamford Bels took the Respect accolade for Divisions One to Five. Pictured are, from the left, Martin Conneely (Stamford Bels), Alan Mutton (league development director), Andy Isabell of sponsors ChromaSport & Trophies, Craig Shuttleworth (Oakham United) and Ces Serluca (ICA Sports).