Mark Bower might view Grimsby as the best team in the National League, but he expects his Guiseley players to compete when they face the third-placed side on Saturday.
The Lions fell to a disheartening loss against Gateshead on Monday, losing 3-0 with Bower clear that the second-half display was unacceptable. It may have been Christmas, but the manager was unhappy that his side “gift-wrapped” the three points for the Tynesiders.
However, he expects his team to learn lessons from that defeat and follow up good recent first-half displays with a complete performance.
Looking forward to the match, Bower said: “It’s a big challenge for our players and one I’m sure they can rise to. We have good experience in the dressing room, plenty of players who have played at Grimsby in the past, but they are a very good side.
“They are on a terrific run in the league at the minute, they’ve had some really good results and they have players in form. They are also able to pick from the same group of players, week in, week out.
“I think, from what I’ve seen this season, that they are the best team in the league. I can see them proving that between now and May.
“We have to go there and compete as we did in the first half of two tough trips, Aldershot and Gateshead, and try and carry that through the 90 minutes.”
Reflecting on recent issues, Bower believes a lack of goal-threat and creativity has been an issue in recent weeks.
That might be something he seeks to rectify over the next month.
“We are definitely looking to strengthen the squad,” Bower said.
“We lost Anthony Dudley a few weeks ago, and that was a big loss for us. We have had two league games since then and have struggled to create chances. That is something we have missed.
“With Oli Johnson out long-term as well it’s been a little bit more difficult the last couple of games. We have a lot of players at the club who are capable of creating and scoring chances, so we just have to keep believing and making any adjustments we can in the meantime.
“While that’s going on, we have to look at one or two faces we can possibly bring in and do one or two things.”
It has not been an easy time for Guiseley, not least with injuries and players absent through other issues. However, Bower had some positive news to report: “We have no new injury worries as such, so we are picking from the same pool of players.
“Ben Parker and Rob Atkinson are very close to full training, and that will be a big boost to the squad.”
Elsewhere, Halifax Town will be hoping to follow up their exceptional festive form against Lincoln City on Saturday, a team they beat 2-0 as recently as Boxing Day.
National League North side Harrogate Town will attempt to climb back into the play-off places when they host Stockport County.
There have been few festive miracles in Tadcaster this Christmas, and the same can be said for the football club.
Photographs of the i2i Stadium taken after the recent storms suggest that the first-placed side will not play a home game for a while.
They have been handed one Christmas present in the form of Jonathan Greening, who has returned to the club after a spell with York City.
Greening has played for the likes of Middlesbrough and Manchester United in a glittering career across the top tiers of English football.
Tomorrow Albion travel to face Pontefract Collieries, the local derby giving them a valuable footballing respite from their woes.
Victory for Albion could have a huge impact on their season; they are currently two points clear at the top of the Premier Division and could jump five ahead of Worksop Town with a win.
That position is even more staggering when taking into account the sheer number of postponements they have faced.
Promotion is well and truly on the cards, the sort of boost Tadcaster would hope for after the recent devastation.
Pontefract could move as high as 14th if they manage to bely the form book and earn a victory of their own.
Elsewhere in the division, Garforth Town host basement side Liversedge, who could climb out of the relegation zone with a victory on their travels.
Nostell Miners Welfare will be looking to edge closer to their opposition with a win. Maltby Main are four points ahead of the Crofton-based side in 15th, although they have played seven games fewer.
In Division One, Hemsworth Miners Welfare could extend their lead at the top of the table even further when they visit Dronfield Town. It will not be an easy tie for the league leaders, with Dronfield having lost only one of their previous six games, and only once at home all season.
Two local sides face off as Westella VIP host Selby Town, the two sides separated by only two points and one place. They are currently 14th and 15th respectively.
Meanwhile, Glasshoughton Welfare will be looking to arrest a recent slump that has seen them fail to win a single one of their last six games. Welfare do not have a simple task on their hands, as they travel to fifth-placed AFC Emley.
Frickley Athletic have been boosted by the extension of Tom Davies’ loan deal from North Ferriby United until January 30.
Davie’s longer stay will be a welcome belated Christmas present for Athletic, who host Rushall Olympic tomorrow.
Athletic have already shown their capacity to beat Olympic in the league, with the reverse fixture in August finishing 4-2 to Frickley.
Victory for Karl Rose’s side could lift them as high as eighth, although they would have to overcome a significant gap in goal difference to overhaul Stourbridge. Rushall are only two places behind Frickley in 15th.
Elsewhere, in the First Division North, Farsley Celtic have an opportunity to move within a point of the top half of the table with a win against Prescot Cables.
That could prove a tight contest as Cables are only a place and a point behind Farsley on the league ladder.
However, Farsley could take hope from their last home game against Cables, the FA Trophy tie on October 3, which they dominated to win 4-0.
Ossett Albion, third in the First Division North, could close the gap on Warrington Town and Northwich Victoria in second and first with a win against Bamber Bridge, although the top two are currently eight points ahead of Albion.
Ossett Town face Mossley, while Harrogate Railway Athletic will be hoping to take advantage of any slip by Town when they travel to Witton Albion.