WITH only a few games remaining before the mid-season break, the main Welsh Premier interest over the festive season centres on the battle to finish in the top six.
Newtown are currently six points ahead of the split but face a tough festive double, although TNS head coach Carl Darlington is under no illusions that the league leaders face a tricky time against the revitalised Robins.
Having dropped their first home points of the season with last week’s 1-1 draw against Bala Town, Darlington is fully aware of the potential pitfalls this week.
"Historically we have really tough games against Newtown, and we’re expecting no different in the next two games," he said.
"We’ll be wary of them, but we can go there in good heart. Last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Bala was a reality check, we had chances to have put the game to bed, but in the end rode our luck and were fortunate to come away with a point."
Newtown have lost just once in their last nine league outings, a run that has seen five wins, three draws and a defeat and includes a 2-2 draw with second-placed Airbus UK.
Rhyl moved into the top six last Saturday with a 2-0 win over Carmarthen Town and face a double-header with local rivals Prestatyn, whose player-boss Neil Gibson has seen his hopes hit by recent results.
"We're running out of time fast to make the top six and I'd have to say we're an outside bet now," Gibson said after a 2-2 draw at Connah's Quay, but two good results against the Lillies could still see the tables turned.
One of the early pacesetters, Aberystwyth have slipped down the table to seventh place but must wait until Saturday for the first of two crucial games against Carmarthen, whose form has also dipped alarmingly in recent weeks.
Airbus UK Broughton will be aiming to strengthen second position with two games against struggling gap Connah's Quay, while third-placed Bangor City have two festive Gwynedd derbies against Bala Town, whose top-six aspirations look forlorn.
Port Talbot Town and Afan Lido meet twice in a struggle to escape from the lower reaches, the Steelmen buoyed by a good win at Aberystwyth last time out.