Non-League Football: Bower’s backing Lions to stake a claim for the title

Guiseley's Oli Johnson.
Guiseley's Oli Johnson.
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BOSS Mark Bower is urging Guiseley to return to winning ways against Boston United tomorrow, insisting the Lions still have prospects of becoming Vanarama North champions.

Guiseley slipped out of the play-offs with last weekend’s 2-0 loss at home to Hednesford but reclaimed fifth when tomorrow’s visitors Boston suffered a 3-0 loss at new leaders AFC Fylde on Tuesday to slip to sixth.

The Lions would overtake both fourth-placed Hednesford and third-placed Tamworth should they win their games in hand – but in an unpredictable division Bower insists even leaders Fylde can still be caught.

Fylde are 13 points ahead of the Lions but have played two games more.

Assessing the current state of the Vanarama North title race, Bower told the YEP: “It changes from week to week and at the weekend just gone you have had four of the top five all losing at home so anything can happen.

“We’ve seen from Tamworth with the run they’ve been on this season – and Fylde have had a big, big winning run as well – that it’s wide open.

“It’s one of them where if a team can put a run like that together they have a chance of finishing top.

“Maybe three or four weeks ago people were saying it was between Barrow and Fylde but maybe now one or two other teams are thinking they could be in with a shout.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves and start to get wins again because we’ve not had enough wins recently. If we do that we see where it takes us.”

Bower hopes to welcome back Oli Johnson from injury tomorrow, and has no new injury doubts six days on from Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Hednesford.

That defeat had been preceded by a fine 3-1 beating of leaders Fylde at Nethermoor, a result which came on the back of a 5-1 hammering at tomorrow’s visitors Boston.

Bower admitted: “Obviously the 5-1 result will be playing on our players’ minds because it happened so recently and it’s only right that it is something they will want to put right.

“But mainly it’s all about getting the points to improve your league position. Both teams will be wanting to do that.

“Boston have been on a really good run but we’ve got to get ourselves back into gear and look to get some results again.”

Improving 13th-placed side Harrogate Town welcome another team with live promotion hopes in seventh-placed Chorley tomorrow, while second-bottom Bradford Park Avenue entertain 15th-placed Lowestoft Town.

In the Conference, seventh-placed FC Halifax Town welcome 16th-placed Braintree.

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AFC Emley will look to make it 150 days running as leaders of Division One of the NCE League tomorrow – and the message from boss Darren Hepworth is bring it on.

Emley are maintaining their leadership by the skin of their teeth with second-placed Pontefract Collieries blowing the chance to go top when held to a goalless draw at Rossington Main on Tuesday evening.

Now third-placed AFC Mansfield visit Emley tomorrow and Rudy Funk’s FA Vase fifth-round reachers sit just two points behind Emley, knowing a win would also take them top of the pile.

But Emley boss Hepworth says his side are not sweating over their precariously balanced leadership, and, on the contrary, are thriving being top of the division.

Hepworth told the YEP: “Clearly we are enjoying it and we’ve enjoyed the last 149 days if you want to be specific. Any one of seven teams could win it but we’re not feeling any under pressure. I thought Ponte might have knocked us off on Tuesday night but they failed to do it which just shows how tough it is.”

Ponte visit third-bottom Dronfield tomorrow while fourth-placed Hemsworth Miners Welfare go to fifth-placed Clipstone.

Premier Division leaders and FA Vase quarter-finalists Tadcaster Albion are at fifth-bottom Maltby Main, while in other highlights bottom club Glasshoughton Welfare host a derby with mid-table Garforth Town.

Farsley AFC face a key game in their Evo-Stik League First Division North promotion bid tomorrow when sixth-placed Bamber Bridge visit Throstle Nest.

Other highlights see Ossett Town go to seventh-placed Droyslden while Brighouse Town visit second-bottom New Mills. In the Premier, Frickley Athletic travel to fourth-placed Ashton United.

Record breaking striker Ashley Flynn has moved to Yorkshire Amateurs from Emley

Non League (NCEL): Full guide to West Yorkshire's clubs in Northern Counties East League in 2017/18