AS a former centre-half, Mark Bower – perhaps more than anyone – can appreciate Guiseley’s mean defensive sheen.
The Lions’ face their third clash in their inaugural National League season at a familiar opponent in Barrow AFC this evening, with Bower’s side chasing a third successive league win – and clean sheet.
Shut-outs in single-goal wins over Altrincham and Kidderminster have owed much to Guiseley’s rearguard resolve, with Bower singling out new signings Adam Lockwood and Rob Atkinson – who have looked the part in the centre of the back four – for particular praise.
Boss Bower, who has Danny Boshell available again tonight after suspension, said: “In the Kidderminster game, if it had been last season, we might have conceded and maybe ended up losing or drawing.
“But that steel and experience we have now in Lockwood and Atkinson has certainly helped.
“They have struck up a good understanding early on and the only goal we have conceded has been a set-piece and we have been solid from open play.
“If you are tight at the back, you don’t need much at the other end to win games and so it has proved with one goal seeing us win our last two games.
“The way all the new lads have settled in as well has been good and there is real competition for places as well.”
Former Leeds United defender and Lions captain Ben Parker is knocking on the door again for selection following injury, with Oli Johnson also ‘not too far away’ from a return, according to Bower.
While Guiseley have momentum following back-to-back wins, Barrow are reeling after two heavy away defeats at Grimsby and Forest Green.
But Bower is not reading too much into those results for the Cumbrians, who have made the decision to go full-time this season following promotion to the National League.
Barrow are likely to be without centre-backs Danny Livesey and Steve Williams tonight through suspension. Games against the Bluebirds have been notoriously tight in recent seasons, with Bower hopeful that Lady Luck will shine upon them in Cumbria tonight after some narrow losses there in recent seasons.
Bower added: “It has been a little bit unlucky for us up there in the past few years too.
“But if it evens itself out, we might see a little bit of fortune going our way. We had two close games against them last season and they nicked both by the odd goal when we deserved a little bit more.
“It will be a tight game and they strengthened really well over the summer. They have had two of probably the hardest games they could have had in Grimsby and Forest Green away.
“And they will be seeing this game as a real opportunity to get three points. But we go there confident in ourselves.”