On-loan Burton Albion winger Scott Malone has targeted a mid-table finish in League Two after his strike secured the Brewers' Football League safety.
The 20-year-old's first goal of the season clinched a 1-1 draw against Southend at Roots Hall on Saturday.
He told BBC Radio Derby: "If we had started playing like this two and a half months ago I think we could have made the play-offs.
"Hopefully next week we can play just as well and finish it off."
Burton had been threatened by relegation back to the Blue Square Bet Premier but a recent turn in form means they now sit safe in 19th position.
And a win in their final game against Accrington Stanley at the Pirelli Stadium on Saturday could see Paul Peschisolido's team finish as high as 16th.
"We were saying before the game, why couldn't we have started our season two months ago instead of two weeks ago?" said Malone, who is on loan from Premier League side Wolves.
"I think we can beat them [Accrington] on Saturday and hopefully I can get another goal."
Malone, who can also play at left-back, is pleased with his current form in a more advanced position on the wing.
He continued: "Ever since I've come here I've said 'look gaffer, I can play further forward'.
"I like getting forward and I think he's come to terms with it now. I can play both [left back or left midfield]."
Malone was on loan at Southend for much of last season and he was pleased to score an important goal against the Shrimpers.
"I heard the fans giving me a bit of stick first 10 to 15 minutes, so I thought, when I score I'm going to give them a bit back.
"It was a good goal. I picked it up and I was going to shoot first time, but [after a] bit of quick feet on the edge of the box and I found myself one-on-one.
"I didn't have too much time to think about it really, I just slotted it home."
And Malone also passed comment on the sending-off of team-mate Jacques Maghoma, who was dismissed against Southend after an altercation with the home fans.
"I know the fans can get to you like they did [to force my reaction] after my goal," he added.
"But you're professional, that's why you're out there and I think he [Maghoma] needed to handle it a little bit better."