MARK BOWER is confident that Oli Johnson can prove a trump card in Guiseley’s promotion quest – if they wrap him up in cootton wool and keep him fit.
The former Norwich City and Stockport County player made a devastating impact on his return from injury from the bench in Saturday’s 3-1 come-from-behind Vanarama North win over Brackley.
Johnson scored straight after coming on and won a penalty for the hosts’ third and is in the party for tomorrow’s clash at 14th-placed Lowestoft Town.
Bower said: “Oli has been out for quite a while and it’s an ongoing issue we will have to manage. He has had an injection in his back, which has certainly helped him, and he will look to be involved at the weekend.
“He’s got quality and we managed to get him on the pitch, although I don’t think anyone expected him to have such an impact as he came on and helped change the game and make a vital contribution.
“Games this time of year can be very tight and sometimes you need that one spark and something special to win a game for you. And Oli has the potential to do that with that pace and his ability to beat a man.
“He gives something different when teams are trying to keep a tight rein on you. He’s an important player for us and we have quite a few more important players who aren’t available.”
Gavin Rothery and Ben Parker remain sidelined, although Danny Boshell returns from suspension against Lowestoft, with third-placed Guiseley travelling down to Suffolk today to prepare for the game in the best way possible.
Bower, who has Luke Porritt available after he returned from a loan spell at Farsley, said: “Having put back-to-back wins together for the first time in a while, it’s important we keep that momentum going.
“Lots of teams have travelled to Lowestoft on a Friday as it is that far and it is important we prepare properly and treat the game with the upmost respect.
“It’s good that the club have made it possible for us to prepare right for a difficult game.
“They are unbeaten in seven or eight at home and it’s a difficult place to go.
“They mix it up and have some good footballers, but have that physical presence as well.
“We have played other sides down at the wrong end of the table lately in Hyde and Bradford and had some really tight and competitive games against them.
“And any team in this league, on any given day, can cause you problems.
“We will try and stop them doing that to us.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Harrogate Town, in mid-table, welcome struggling Colwyn Bay.
Bradford Park Avenue, fresh from booking their place in the West County Cup in style after a 4-0 semi-final win in their replayed game with Tadcaster Albion, visit seventh-placed Oxford City.
FC Halifax, seven points behind the side occupying the final Conference play-off spot, Forest Green, but with two games in hand, head to Altrincham tomorrow.
**** FRICKLEY ATHLETIC can virtually secure another season of Evo-Stik Premier Division football with victory over Marine in South Elmsall tomorrow, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.
The third-from-bottom Mariners trail the Blues, one place above them, by eight points, with nine games to play, with tomorrow’s game a must-win one for the Merseysiders.
Frickley are without a win in eight matches since February 7.
In Division One, Farsley will be seeking play-off points at home to Clitheroe, with Ossett Town – buoyed by last week’s success at fourth-placed Bamber Bridge – welcoming leaders Salford City.
Harrogate Railway host Kendal and Scarborough Athletic are at home to Bamber Bridge.
Brighouse entertain mid-table Lancaster City.
PAUL MARSHALL is urging his shaken Tadcaster Albion side not to feel sorry for themselves and to engineer a renaissance – with their season in danger of hitting the buffers.
After a pretty peerless season when most of what they have touched has turned to gold, things are now going seriously awry for Taddy, without a win in six games.
Following their painful FA Vase last-eight exit to Highworth Town, Taddy were thrashed 4-0 in their replayed West Riding County Cup semi-final clash at Bradford Park Avenue on Wednesday. If that is not enough, Worksop Town have usurped them at the top of the NCEL Premier, with Marshall’s side seeking a first league win in four at home to Athersley Rec tomorrow.
Marshall said: “There’s still a bit of time left and you never say never and we’ve just got to try and get the win. At this time, we are feeling sorry for ourselves and we have got to try and bounce back.”
Elsewhere, lowly Liversedge, buoyed by a magnificent win against Shaw Lane Aquaforce, host Bridlington and Glasshoughton and Nostell host Cleethorpes Town and Worksop respectively. Thackley welcome Albion Sports and Division One leaders AFC Emley host Eccleshill.
Second-placed Pontefract Colls visit Bottesford, Selby go to Hallam and Hemsworth host AFC Mansfield.
Knaresborough are at home to Lincoln Moorlands.