WARRINGTON Town have made an unhealthy habit of making life hard for themselves this season.

As such, it is perhaps fitting and to be expected that their route through the play-offs is the most difficult they could conceivably conjure.

The fact they even made the top five should be lauded – for a club still reeling from having a five-figure hole punched through the heart of its finances due to the pandemic, they continue to punch significantly above their weight.

While a fifth-placed finish was at the very top end of their realistic hopes back in August, there will be a natural disappointment at not cementing the advantageous position they found themselves in prior to the weekend.

> Click here to read Town boss Mark Beesley's pre-match thoughts on tonight's game

They had a third-place finish – and therefore a home play-off tie – in their control, but Saturday’s final-day reverse at Matlock Town allowed both the Gladiators and Scarborough Athletic to jump above them.

Their away record of late had been pretty solid – four straight wins without conceding a goal before their 2-0 loss in Derbyshire, to be exact.

If they are going to take the place in the National League North they have lusted after for so long, it will require two more away victories, starting with the daunting task of a midweek trip to South Shields.

Long-time adversaries, it is again poetic that their paths cross at this time of the season again.

However, the task of coming away from Tyneside victorious as they did so memorably in the play-offs three years ago seems even more difficult now.

One could make that conclusion based upon their record of games against their play-off rivals during the regular season – played six, lost six.

Warrington Guardian:

Both of Yellows' regular season meetings with South Shields have ended in defeat. They lost 3-2 on Tyneside in September and 2-1 at Cantilever Park in January. Picture by Karl Vallantine

Indeed, Town have taken just two points from a possible 24 against the sides to have finished above them this season, both of which came from games against champions Buxton.

Given their hosts are now a full-time outfit, however, and are backed by even larger crowds – tonight’s gate should easily exceed 2,000 – the challenge reaches a new level of complexity.

Writing Town off, however, is unwise.

As previously mentioned, they do not have to reach too far into the past for inspiration of how to pull off the seemingly impossible.

Manager Mark Beesley helped formulate the plan to stun South Shields back in 2019 while assistant to then-boss Paul Carden. Josh Amis – scorer of the winning goal that day – skipper Mark Roberts and long-serving Mitch Duggan among others are all still involved.

Warrington Guardian:

The memorable scenes following Town's play-off win at South Shields in 2019. Picture by John Hopkins

They know what it is going to take to get the job done in a cauldron-like atmosphere. It is quite a trend to buck, but they have the know-how.

Even those who weren’t there – the likes of Jay Harris, Sean Williams and Eddie Clarke to name but a few – can call upon vast experience of this kind of high-pressure game.

Add to the mix the kind of freedom the underdog tag can bring and it may well concoct a mixture that turns out to be Kryptonite for the men from the north east once again.

They will need their very best, but they should get on the coach knowing their best is good enough.