“DON’T get beaten,” the simple but all-important advice from Guiseley manager Steve Kittrick who feels a winning mentality holds the key to getting one step closer to life in the Conference.
The Lions are just 90 minutes away from a place in the Blue Square North play-off final and indeed are odds-on favourites to get there ahead of Sunday’s semi-final second leg at Boston United (kick-off 3pm).
Favouritism is thanks to Warren Peyton’s 30-yard blockbuster settling Wednesday night’s first leg at Nethermoor 1-0 and Kittrick knows when all is said and done anything but an away loss will put Guiseley in the final.
Now the Lions boss is only hoping his young players can hold their nerve, the manager set to be boosted by the return of top scorer James Walshaw from a sickness bug and Danny Boshell who has had personal problems.
“I just think we go there and we’ve just not got to get beaten,” said Kittrick simply.
“Everyone is upbeat and we are doing everything right – we are going on Saturday and stopping over, James Walshaw will hopefully be back and also Danny Boshell.
“Boston are a good side and the thing is with it we got a fantastic goal.
“It was a fantastic strike but they have got a lot of good players and they are at home now.
“There will be two-and-half to three thousand people there, there will be a massive expectation from the crowd and for me it’s all about our mental strength now, not physical strength.”
The game is the day after the 20th anniversary of Guiseley winning the FA Vase.
On May 7, 1991, they beat Gresaley Rovers 3-1 in the final replay at Bramall Lane, two days after a 4-4 draw at Wembley.
And Kittrick has vowed his side will remain on the offensive tomorrow, insisting a defensive approach in Lincolnshire would merely be asking for trouble.
However, the Guiseley chief admits that the first 15 minutes will be key with Boston likely to be roared on by over 2,000 home fans.
“I think the first 15 minutes is going to be massive for both teams,” said Kittrick.
“If they get a way back into it then they’ll have the impetus and be confident but the longer it goes on and the longer they go without getting back into it the more frustrated the crowd get.
“We’ve got to be strong and continue what we’re doing.
“We’ve got a lot of young players and I just hope it’s not too much for them.”
And of that Kittrick is confident, the Nethermoor chief feeling his young side have the right balance of being confident without getting cocky.
“I’ve been talking to the lads and thankfully, I don’t have a lot of lads that are arrogant,” he said.
“They are quite level-headed lads and they know what is needed to get us to where we want to be.
“Their biggest incentive now is to get into that final and to be playing in the Conference next year.”
Achieving that goal would be quite some feat for Guiseley who were only promoted from the Evo-Stik Premier last year and are just two games away from sealing back-to-back promotions.
And, with fine runs in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and victory in the West Riding FA County Cup also recorded, Kittrick knows a play-off final and possibly promotion to Blue Square Premier would be the icing on the cake.
“It’s massive and it’s a massive progression – for me and the players,” he said.
“You look at it and I’m quite confident in my own ability and I’m quite confident in the group of lads I have got together and when you look at it, it speaks for itself what we’ve done this year.
“We’ve got to the quarter-final of the Trophy, the first round of the FA Cup, won the County Cup final and reached the play-offs and I think we’ve been beaten this year about 10 out of 50 games. It’s a massive achievement for everybody at the club.”
Not that Kittrick is even contemplating the final just yet – a final which will see the team who finished highest in the league get home advantage.
That final – played next Sunday – is likely to come at runners-up Telford with the Bucks hosting Nuneaton tomorrow on the back of a 1-1 draw at Liberty Way, but Kittrick is refusing to look that far ahead.
“I think the final is at the highest placed team so if Telford win it’s at Telford, but if we win and Nuneaton win it’s at Guiseley,” he said.
“But I’m not bothered and at the end of the day we’ve got a massive game on Sunday and we’ve got to overcome that.
“We’re not there yet.”