MARK BOWER has hailed the stand-out form of Oli Johnson, who has cast aside some early-season frustration to spearhead in-form Guiseley’s recent rise to third spot in the Vanarama North.
The Lions sealed a peerless week with a 3-1 victory at Gloucester City on Saturday, with ex-Norwich City player Johnson playing a major part in the opener, which saw Matt Williams put through his own net.
Johnson was a thorn for the Gloucester defence throughout, just as he was in the earlier victories over Gainsborough and Lowestoft, when he found the net in both matches.
For Bower, whose side entertain fellow high-fliers Solihull Moors at Nethermoor tonight, it’s a case of long may it continue.
The Lions chief said: “Oli has been really producing for us over the past few weeks.
“He has had a frustrating time and it is pleasing to see him get a run of games together and do a lot of training as well and he hasn’t missed much lately, which certainly helps. Long may it continue.
“He came in as a loan striker at Barrow when we had a few out injured and did that role really well.
“I do think starting games has helped him and he has been able to get through the majority of games as well. When we can get him on the ball, he can produce for us and he has been doing that, which is pleasing.
“Although we are also mindful, we are careful and look after him to get the best out of him.”
On his side’s maximum haul of nine points from the last nine, he added: “We said after we were a little bit unfortunate in getting beaten at Barrow a few weeks ago that we needed to get back on track and some points on the board, no matter how we got them.
“Nine points was the target and the lads have done really well in getting them and we have got them pretty convincingly really.
“Part of what we discussed before the Gainsborough and Gloucester games is that both had been to our place and won and we had the opportunity to put them right and gain a little revenge was a bit of a motivation.
“But really getting points on the board and getting back up among those top teams was the real motivation.”
Guiseley’s return to form and healthy squad options is timely heading into tonight’s clash with Moors, one place behind them in the table and also on a fine run.
But the Midlanders look likely to be without main attacking weapon Omar Bogle tonight, with the striker on England C duty at The Shay.
Bower said: “Solihull have won six and drawn one of their last seven league matches and are on a unbelievable run.
“The next two home games are going to be a step up in opposition and will be a test. But we are pleased to have a bit more strength in depth with a few coming back from injuries, to what the situation was a couple of weeks ago.
“We are a bit stronger and have more options from the bench and our position is better than it was two or three weeks ago.
“When you are in a run of five games in 15 days, you definitely need all your squad and for three of those five matches, we have been able to pick a settled team and had options on the bench, such as Alex Johnson, who has come on and done well. We are able to freshen it up also, which is good.”
On Bogle’s absence, he added: “That will be a blow for them and as far as I am aware, he won’t be involved.
“A few weeks ago, we had Adam Boyes involved in one of those games and it was a big blow for us and I think he is a similar sort of player to him.
“But Solihull are always very well organised and look to pack the midfield and hit you on the counter attack and they have pace and quality in their side.
“A team who have won six and drawn one of their last seven matches have not just done that with one player. They are a very good team.”
Frickley, who have lost their last three Evo-Stik Premier matches visit FC United of Manchester tonight, with the Rebels seeking revenge after a 4-1 league loss in South Elmsall.
Action in the third round of the NCEL League Cup sees Selby welcome Garforth and Glasshoughton host Bridlington. Liversedge visit Clipstone and Thackley entertain Shaw Lane Aquaforce.
AFC Emley can go six points clear at the top of Division One with victory at Winterton tonight.