IT is too early for celebration perhaps, but Witton Albion can reach the Northern Premier League’s summit this afternoon if they beat in-form Coalville Town.

If they do, then a case should be made for their defenders to take credit.

A 3-1 win at Halesowen on Tuesday propelled them up to second spot, two points adrift of pacesetting Warrington.

No side has conceded fewer goals to date than Carl Macauley’s.

“The forwards can take the glory, I don’t mind!” said Nick Ryan, recruited from Stalybridge Celtic earlier this summer.

“That’s how it works, isn’t it?

“You hear people talking in the dressing room or on the bus about where we are in the table, but I don’t pay much attention.

“What it does mean is that we’re doing something right.”

The 23-year-old has slotted into Witton’s defence with ease during the early stages of the season, renewing a partnership with Anthony Brown that started when the duo played together at Burscough.

Ryan’s form that season earned for him a switch to higher-ranked Stalybridge, although a long-term groin injury restricted him to watching from the side-lines.

That didn’t put off Macauley.

“Witton wanted to take me on loan but I was struggling,” he said.

“I was trying to grit my teeth and play through it, but it reached a point where I couldn’t sprint.

“A surgeon I saw said my groin was a mess, and that was it.

“The gaffer kept in touch with me, and asked how my recovery was going.

“They s made me feel wanted, and trusted that I would get back to full-fitness.

“I’m not quite there yet, but I’m enjoying my footy again and feeling stronger after every game I’ve played.”

Those familiar faces from his spell with Burscough, including Calvin Hare, Matty Devine and Paul Williams in addition to Brown, have made his transition a smooth one.

Ryan’s presence makes Albion’s back-line taller irrespective of whether three or four men are on duty.

He said: “We’ve changed shape a couple of times even though we’ve not done a huge amount of work in training with three guys back there.

“The gaffer obviously trusts us, and we’ve made it work.

“I don’t care either way; I just want to be out there helping these guys out.

“It’s been easy for me to settle, and it helps that the team has just been promoted and they’re full of confidence.

“In their minds, they’ve just carried on from where they have left off.”