BEING top of the table on Christmas Day can often be seen as a key milestone in any season, writes Matt Turner.

Should they win at Barnoldswick Town on Saturday, kick off 3pm, 1874 Northwich will sit proudly at the summit of the North West Counties League Premier Division table on December 25.

Two victories over sides who sit alongside them in the higher echelons – Bootle and Ashton Athletic were dispatched on Saturday and Tuesday respectively – have put them in pole position for that honour.

It would cap an excellent opening to the season for the Greens, but they know the job is only half done.

“We’d much rather be in the position we’re in now than where we were last Christmas, that’s for sure,” co-boss Wayne Goodison told the Guardian.

“The lads say it themselves – all we are concerned about at the moment is performance levels.

“The thing that has made it different for us this year is that we’ve been consistent.

“Our performance levels have been consistent in every game and that’s given us a chance to go and pick up wins.

“We’ll take what we’ve got and look at the next few games.

“I think we’re playing really well, even the players who are asked to do jobs out of position.

“We can do some things slightly better and the lads will agree with that. There’s things we highlight in training that we can improve upon and we work on them.

“We’re never going to say we’re at our optimum because we’re always striving to improve.”

A busy festive schedule is looming large, with 1874 facing neighbours Northwich Victoria and Rylands in the space of three days

Before the Greens can look to the Christmas period, however, they have one more test in their way.

Barnoldswick’s Silentnight Stadium home is famously open to the elements, making for harsh conditions at the worst of times.

When the weather is cold and wet – as is forecast for this weekend – the trip to the Lancashire hilltops is among the toughest of tests.

Goodison, who picks the team alongside fellow co-manager Paul Bowyer, knows the conditions will play a big role on Saturday but says his side will be ready for whatever comes their way – if the match survives the weather.

“It’s always a tough game up there. We’ve won and lost there in the past,” he said.

“It very much depends on the conditions on the day – they will be a big factor.

“They had some snow earlier in the week and the forecast for the weekend isn’t great.

“We’ll get back in training on Thursday and prepare ourselves for what will be another big test.”