FREE-SCORING Runcorn Town face their toughest test of the North West Counties League campaign on Saturday when they host new leaders Barnoldswick Town.
The Lancashire side went top of the Premier Division with a 2-0 win over AFC Blackpool on Tuesday night, capitalising on St Helens Town’s first defeat of the season at Stone.
Town were denied the chance to keep up with the leaders last night when their scheduled opponents AFC Liverpool were in FA Cup replay action with Runcorn’s other side, the Linnets.
But after their own FA Cup extra preliminary round tie with Brighouse Town at the weekend yielded a 4-1 win, Town face Barnoldswick on the back of three straight wins in which they have bagged 14 goals.
Manager Simon Burton, however, is refusing to read too much into his side’s encouraging start to the season until he has faced the new table-toppers.
“This will be the test that tells us how far we have really come,” said Burton.
“I’m happy with the start we’ve made but we’re playing one of the favourites on Saturday and they will be up there at the end of the season.
“There’s still thing we need to improve on. We could have scored more than we did on Saturday. The important thing, obviously, was winning through to the next round, but we have to take more of the chances we are creating.
“Against teams like Barnoldswick, you’re more likely to get punished if you waste opportunities.
“But we are playing well and can go into the game with confidence.”
Burton should have Tom Rutter back in the side on Saturday after he missed the Brighouse tie through illness.
Ian Robinson, however, is set to be out for a month after suffering a recurrence of his knee injury.
Having no midweek game has at least given Burton the opportunity to plan his tactics for Saturday’s big game without worrying about further injuries.
And he is confident that having a free week won’t disrupt the momentum his players have gathered on their way to successive 6-1, 4-1 and 4-1 victories.
The manager added: “Up until the middle of October we will be playing Saturday then midweek every week.
“So it can be tough on the players, and I think not playing this week takes a bit of the pressure off.
“It allows us to have a couple of training sessions and a bit of a laugh, maybe have a bit more of a relaxed feel about the place rather than the intensity of another game.
“And of course, it means we still go into the weekend with three wins out of three – and we want to keep that run going.”
Town face a league and cup double header with Congleton Town next week, going to Ivy Gardens in the league on Tuesday and returning there for an FA Cup preliminary round tie a week on Saturday.
Congleton have made a shaky start to the season and are 18th in the North West Counties Premier Division.