WITTON Albion narrowly missed out on a promotion play-offs place on their return to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s Premier Division last season, finishing seventh.

Their aim will be to improve on that result in a section of 22 teams, reduced by two from 24, for the forthcoming campaign.

It starts next month, and some games stand out already as a must-see for Albion supporters.

Here are our top five picks from today’s fixture release:

South Shields v Witton Albion

Saturday, August 18 (ko 3pm)

Witton make their longest, and probably most challenging, journey to an away game on the opening day of the campaign.

They will be greeted by hosts buoyed by being promoted in each of the past three years, and who were watched by average crowds of close to 1,500 people last season.

And they saw their side lose only once in the league at Mariners Park.

If Albion want an early test of their credentials to mount a challenge to finish in the top five, then their wish has been granted.

Whitby Town v Witton Albion

Saturday, August 25 (ko 3pm)

A trip to the seaside on August Bank Holiday weekend and with a football match thrown in for good measure; what’s not to like?

The destination softens a blow to Carl Macauley’s men making their second-longest journey of the season seven days after the first.

Their record at the Turnbull Ground is solid, including a 2-1 victory in last season’s corresponding fixture when Rob Hopley scored the winner on his 100th appearance in Albion’s colours.

A repeat would do nicely.

Witton Albion v Warrington Town

Wednesday, December 26 (ko 3pm)

The Boxing Day fixture is one fans always look out for, and Witton will host the same opponents as they did last time around.

Warrington are the nearest neighbour to Albion, and make a short trip for what is now becoming a traditional Christmas meeting between the teams.

Substitute Tony Gray, an interval replacement for ineffectual former Albion man Scott Bakkor, scored in stoppage time to settle a close encounter in Yellows’ favour last year.

Witton repaid the favour when Tom Owens scored late at Cantilever Park to deny Town a victory in the return.

Witton Albion v South Shields

Saturday, January 5 (ko 3pm)

South Shields will be visiting most grounds in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight for the first time, but they know the way to Wincham Park.

They prevailed in an FA Cup clash between the teams last season, when their fans enjoyed the hospitality at the nearby Witton Chimes pub.

A friendship established between both sets of supporters will be renewed by the Mariners’ second visit to Northwich early in 2019.

By then the relative strength of each side to their rivals in a race for promotion will be clearer than it is at the moment.

Witton Albion v Scarborough Athletic

Saturday, March 2 (ko 3pm)

Scarborough were sunk by Danny Andrews’ stoppage-time penalty when they travelled to Northwich for the first time since their reformation little more than two years ago.

They finished third from bottom in Division One North that season, and will be an entirely different proposition when they return to town next March.

Promoted as runners-up behind South Shields, they too regular posted four-figure attendances last term.

If they are doing well, which is expected, then a sizeable contingent should follow them to Cheshire this time around.