BARNTON’S season so far has been about exceeding expectations.

In both league and cup, the Villagers have been flying – even co-manager Liam Page admits the campaign has started better than he expected.

After another lengthy stoppage, though, the challenge now is to ensure they pick up where they left off.

Fresh from their longest ever run in the FA Vase – ended by a 4-0 loss to Seaham Red Star on Saturday – the North West Counties League season restarts with Barnton seventh in the First Division South.

Since relegation from the Premier Division in 2018, they have been fighting to avoid being stuck at the wrong end of the table.

Having won three of their first six games before the stoppage, however, is that about to change?

“We’re really happy. For the majority of the games, we have been the better side,” said Page, who leads the team alongside Neil Murray.

“After the good start we had, the lockdown was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Hopefully we can kick on again when the season restarts.

“Before the season started, we sat down and the target was to do as well as we can like always.

“With us being near the bottom over the past two or three seasons, we were looking at mid-table and possibly the top half.

“I said that if we were doing well after Christmas, we would reassess our targets.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve been surprised by how well we have started.

“Once we’re a couple more games in, we can maybe rule out being at the bottom end and start looking at being in the top 10.

“It’s tricky as we haven’t played everyone yet so we don’t know how others are looking.

“The likes of Vauxhall and Wythenshawe are going to be up there, Abbey Hey are a very good side as well.

“After a few more games, we’ll roughly know what we’ll be able to aim for.”

The Villagers’ last league game was on October 27 when they became the first side to take points off league leaders Vauxhall Motors with a 1-1 draw.

While most of their rivals have been inactive, Barnton’s FA Vase exploits have seen them continue to play competitively.

So, does Page think that will see his side at an advantage when the bread and butter of league action gets going again?

“Hopefully we can make it work in our favour,” he said.

“You can do all the non-football fitness you like, but there’s no substitute for in-game fitness and minutes in the legs.

“That’s especially the case at our level, where fitness is what gets players through most of the time.

“Hopefully, the fact we’ve been playing competitively will stand us in good stead.”