Guiseley AFC: Scrapping Lions hold destiny in own hands

Mark Bower
Mark Bower
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NERVES can affect the best – and Guiseley manager Mark Bower is hoping that proves the case tomorrow when leaders Cheltenham visit Nethermoor.

NERVES can affect the best – and Guiseley manager Mark Bower is hoping that proves the case tomorrow when leaders Cheltenham visit Nethermoor.

It is a game which has big connotations at both ends of the National League table, with the Lions, just two points above the drop zone, desperate to end their 10-match winless league streak with a massive victory to relieve their parlous situation, while the Robins are chasing promotion and title points.

The odds may be on Gary Johnson’s Cheltenham – four points clear at the summit – taking one more step towards an instant return to the Football League.

But strange things happen at this time of the footballing year, with Bower eager for such an eventuality tomorrow.

Guiseley may be without a home league win since November 28, but recent home displays against several of the division’s leading sides have given Bower cause for some comfort.

As did last weekend’s gutsy 1-1 draw at Eastleigh, thanks to James Hurst’s strike.

And Bower is confident his side will show similar character in another big afternoon in their quest for safety in a game which has plenty riding on it for different reasons.

On a tough-looking outing, Bower, who has re-signed loan striker Emile Sinclair for the rest of 2015-16, said: “Cheltenham will be high on confidence after getting a great win against Grimsby last weekend and they can see that championship on the horizon now.

“They will be looking to start at a good tempo and put us under pressure.

“But we have had the likes of Forest Green, Grimsby, Tranmere and Dover come to us in the last few weeks and we have given a good account of ourselves against all of them.

“We must make sure we do the same against Cheltenham.

“With a little bit of luck and one or two things falling our way, there’s no reason why we can’t get a result because we have matched some of the big teams in the league recently. At this stage of the season, you play teams either with a lot of pressure on them or those who have nothing to play for, but play without freedom. It is all about on the day; Cheltenham are the best team in the division all season and their position proves that. But they have lost three of the last seven, so nerves can affect you and, hopefully, it can be a positive for us and maybe start to affect them a little bit.

“They have experience and a good physical presence and a lot of goals in there, and you can see why they are where they are.”

Bower spent Tuesday night watching two relegation rivals in action in Halifax and Boreham Wood, with the 19th-placed Lions still having to visit the latter on the penultimate weekend in what has the look of a colossal relegation ‘six-pointer’. Bower, however, is focusing purely on what he can control now and not worrying about others.

He added: “It is an old cliché.

“We need to take care of ourselves and not worry about what anyone else is doing – although any help we get will be gratefully received.”

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OSSETT Town will seek more points in their First Division North survival bid at Prescot Cables tomorrow – but rival Harrogate Railway boss Lee Ashforth thinks the Ingfielders are already safe with his team “as good as down”.

Town are five points clear of second-bottom Rail’ and also have two games in hand with the first of Railway’s remaining four matches coming at home to rock bottom New Mills tomorrow.

Victory there could cut the gap back down to two points should Town slip up at 16th-placed Cables, but Ashforth believes irreparable damage was done in last weekend’s 2-1 loss at their main relegation rivals.

“We are as good as down,” said Ashforth. “It would take a miracle to stay up, we need to win all our games and hope Ossett slip up in theirs.

“Saturday was the big game against them. We couldn’t afford to lose that game. We shouldn’t have lost but we did. We have had a lot of hard luck stories but they say over 42 games it would even out. I’m not sure it has for us, but that’s football. There’s still a chance we can stay up but realistically, players are playing for their positions for whatever club they are at next year.

“You never give up hope but it would be very difficult. It would just be nice to go into the last week of the season and still have a chance of staying up but everyone will be thinking we are as good as down.”

Former chairman Rob Northfield, meanwhile, has set Railway a deadline of April 15 to decide whether he will takeover the club. Rail’ have approached the wealthy businessman to take over from acting chairman Nigel Corner at the end of the season.

Northfield has acted as a ‘special advisor’ to Railway since January and insists league survival would have no bearing on his decision.

“I don’t want to make the wrong decision,” said Northfield. “I live a very privileged life. I do a little bit of work when I choose to do it. Some of that will have to end if I get involved with Railway. It’s a bit of a selfish thing. But if I get involved in Railway, I won’t just get involved.”

An emergency general meeting has been called for Sunday, April 17 for club members to decide on the direction of the club.

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CRUNCH time looms in the NCE League Premier Division title race, but Tadcaster Albion boss Billy Miller has slammed what will ultimately prove a case of the survival of the fittest.

Albion face a title showdown at home to leaders Handsworth Parramore at the i2i Stadium tomorrow with only two points separating the pair at the top.

The Brewers also have a game in hand but as a consequence tomorrow’s clash is the first of six games in 11 days for Albion, and Miller admitted

Taddy’s squad depth will be stretched over the next two weeks.

“I can’t believe it, it’s absolute madness,” said Miller.

“It’s just a shame when you have worked hard all season, that it will come down to who can keep the squad the fittest and who can keep injury free.”

Jonathan Greening is unavailable for Handsworth’s visit, while Liam Ormsby has yet to recover from a chest infection.

Miller insists his side will not fear league leaders Parramore’s golden strike duo Jon Froggatt and Kieran Wells in Saturday’s crunch. Both forwards have both hit the net 32 times to fire Handsworth to the top of the league.

Miller added: “That’s only the same number as Jimmy Beadle, Josh Greening and Adam Baker have, so they will have similar problems. We have the best defensive record in the league. That speaks volumes of the back four and Gary (Stevens).”

Guiseley goalkeeper Jonny Maxted saves his first penalty at 
Accrington Stanley in the sides' FA Cup first-round replay. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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