There was plenty of reason for festive cheer at Bury Town this week after manager Ben Chenery successfully secured the services of Leon Ottley-Gooch on a deal until the end of the season.
The experienced midfielder has spent the last seven years with Leiston, for whom he has played a key role in their rise from Thurlow Nunn League football to Ryman League Premier Division promotion contenders.
However, competition for places at Victory Road has been particularly fierce this term, with Ottley-Gooch often finding himself on the periphery.
Indeed, of his 17 appearances in all competitions during 2016/17, the Bury St Edmunds-based 29-year-old has completed 90 minutes just once.
News of Ottley-Gooch’s availability sparked a clamour for his signature, but Chenery swooped quickly for a player that he believes will prove to be the ‘perfect fit’ for his side — starting on Boxing Day when the Blues travel to near-neighbours Soham Town Rangers (1pm).
“Leon will bring plenty of attributes I feel we have been lacking,” said the Bury boss.
“In that respect, he is the perfect fit for us. One of the main things he provides is some natural leadership in midfield.
“He is also very athletic, covers plenty of ground, has good ability on the ball and can weigh in with a goal or two — he is an all-rounder.
“I like to have one of my midfielders sitting back, but I do not want to restrict Leon, and so we will be asking him to play box-to-box.
“We want him to dictate things, and with his experience he will know when to drive us forward and when to contain.”
In Soham (15th), Bury (9th) will come up against a Ryman League Division One North opponent with a new man at the helm — player-manager Robbie Mason, who was appointed earlier this week after a two-week interim spell in charge.
With players potentially playing for their futures at the club, Chenery is well aware that the Cambridgeshire hosts are likely to provide a stern test.
But with a 15-day break behind them after having last weekend off, the former Cambridge United defender is confident his men will be fresh enough to match their eager-to-impress counterparts.
“When a new manager comes in, it tends to be the case that teams put in a decent performance or two,” he added.
“In that respect it is probably not the best time to play Soham, but we have had a decent break and should be fresh.
“One thing we cannot afford to be is rusty or lacklustre, but that is my job in training to ensure the lads are sharp and match-ready.
“It will be tough, but we will be ready and if we play to our capabilities, I expect us to get something from the game.”