THE past few weeks have illustrated how relentless a promotion race can be.

That is especially the case in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, as Warrington Town are finding out.

They may have only lost one game since September – the 2-0 home loss to Scarborough Athletic on December 18 – but it cost them their play-off spot although Monday's 4-1 victory at Witton Albion allowed them to regain it.

While Town have played more games than all of the teams around them, their festive victory and points dropped elsewhere has bunched things up nicely.

They are six points behind leaders Matlock Town, four adrift of third-place Bamber Bridge and a single point behind South Shields, who are immediately above them in fourth.

And we move into the new year, we are about to find out exactly what this side are made of.

January sees them face three of the four sides currently above them in the table as well as two of the teams hunting them down – a run of fixtures that could prove to be season-defining.

New Year’s Day sees them welcome Bamber Bridge to Cantilever Park with South Shields making the trip to Cheshire on January 22.

Mark Beesley takes his side to Buxton, who have dropped to second following their loss to Matlock on Monday, on January 15 and they wrap up the month with a trip to Whitby Town on January 29.

Add in a trip to FC United of Manchester – always tough, especially given they are in form and making a sustained charge towards the play-off spots – on January 8 and it completes an unenviable run of games.

They also have a Cheshire Senior Cup tie against Hyde United on January 4 to negotiate.

Given the games around them and the current Covid situation with squads being depleted, the cup tie could be seen as a distraction at best and a real nuisance at worst.

Town’s target will surely be to enter February inside the play-off spots – to do that, one would think they would need at least two wins and no more than one defeat.

Given they are yet to beat any of the sides currently above them this season – they have drawn with Buxton and Bamber Bridge and lost to South Shields and Matlock Town – some would consider that a tall order.

If they can do that, the platform from which they will be able to attack the final stages of the season will be so much stronger.

Depending on how others do around them, a strong January could well see them able to look up at the top three – important as even if they do not manage to grab the one automatic promotion spot, finishing second or third would guarantee a home play-off semi-final.

However, a month in which they lose more ground would put a massive dent in any promotion hopes.

The strength of those around them means they really do not want to be playing catch-up.

Either way, we are set to know plenty more about what can be expected of this Warrington Town side in the weeks ahead.