GUISELEY MANAGER Mark Bower insists derby opponents Bradford Park Avenue are in a false position – and is not reading anything into their lowly status ahead of tomorrow’s Vanarama North derby at Nethermoor.
The odds may strongly favour third-placed Guiseley, whose narrow weekend defeat at Tamworth was just their second reverse in 10 league matches, especially with John Deacey’s Avenue perched into the drop zone.
But Bower is confident that the visitors will not be in the relegation zone come season’s end.
He said: “Park Avenue had a good win at Worcester last week and have signed a few good players recently.
“Simon Ainge needs no introduction to anyone at Guiseley and when they are signing players of that quality, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
“I know they might be in the relegation zone at the minute, but I have no doubts that they will be more than comfortable at the end of the season.”
Guiseley will again be without the goal thrust of Adam Boyes, with postponements having unfortunately dragged out his three-match suspension and Andy Holdsworth is likely to be out for a month with a hamstring injury to compound things.
But better news sees full-back Ryan Toulson back in the fray and he is rated at 50-50 to start, with Wayne Brooksby also still sidelined.
Despite a bit of disruption to his line-up at present, Bower believes Guiseley are still in a very good place and is comfortable about his side’s recent performance levels, regardless of last weekend’s loss at Tamworth.
He said: “We came away disappointed and should have definitely got something. We had more than enough openings. When we were chasing the game at Tamworth, we maybe wanted one or two more attacking options.
“It did not help with Adam’s suspension and with the postponements we have had, it has turned it into a really long absence and it will be good to get Boyesy back available.
“Yet we can’t be too down about things; it wasn’t a disastrous performance.
“Although with the top two winning in midweek, we need to get some wins on the board again.
“We must remember our game was against an in-form side in Tamworth and away from home, it was the most difficult fixture we could have had at this moment in time.
“We still have plenty of quality and just need to get back on track with a win.
“Everyone is going to lose games. Barrow have been on a run where they have picked up four points in five games and others have had bad runs.
“We have not really sprung a massive winning run together, but at the same time, we have not had a real bad patch either.
“If we get a bit more consistency going, we have the quality to go on a run to win five or six on the bounce.”
On the prognosis regarding Holdsworth, Bower added: “It’s a fair old pull and it is a shame for Andy as he had got back in the team and was playing really well.
“In all the time he’s been at Guiseley, I can’t remember him being injured before, but I am sure he will work hard and come back raring to go.”
Harrogate Town play host to Boston United, who ended the game at the CNG Stadium last year with just eight players.
FC Halifax, in eighth spot, face a big game at home to fifth-placed Eastleigh in the Vanarama Conference.
FA Vase action sees Tadcaster host Midlands side Brocton.
TO surprise packages Hemsworth MW, the message is very simple from the boss: Let’s enjoy the ride.
Hemsworth’s seasonal story in NCEL Division One is already a captivating one, with Wayne Benn’s side in second spot and right in the mix in a compelling title race – all this after finishing 17th last term.
With next-to-no funds in comparison to their rivals and relying on young local talent, Hemsworth’s tale has already proved a truly remarkable one, but Benn hopes a few more chapters are penned yet despite already confounding expectations.
On a memorable campaign thus far, Benn, whose side are aiming to extend their stunning unbeaten league run to 17 games at home to lowly Dronfield tomorrow, said: “It has been fantastic.
“At the start of a season, you never know how a season will go. But we were confident with the way we finished last season it would stood us in good stead.
“With the squad we put together, we thought we would do reasonably well. But we have probably exceeded expectations of everyone, to be fair.
“But I knew the quality we had in the changing room too and the way we wanted to play could bring around a big change in fortunes – and it has.
“Now because of the position we are in, we are right in the thick of a promotion charge. We will ride it for all long as we can and have proven we are not going away.
“We are probably one of about five or six teams who are in with a shout of getting promotion. We will see how it goes.”
On an intriguing title race, with the top six separated by just seven points, Benn added: “It is really tight and generally by this time of year, two or three have broken away and it becomes obvious who is in the mix.
“But those down in sixth or seventh will still feel they have a genuine chance of being involved.
“Only two can get promoted, so there will be some disappointed teams. But we are confident we have the quality required.”
Elsewhere, leaders AFC Emley go to Bottesford, while third-placed Pontefract Colls welcome Shirebrook.
Yorkshire Amateur and Selby visit Clipstone and Penistone Church respectively, Knaresborough go to Worsbrough Bridge and Eccleshill host Hall Road Rangers.
In the Premier, Garforth and Glasshoughton entertain Retford and Maltby Main. A derby sees Nostell entertain Thackley and Liversedge are at home to Athersley Rec and Albion Sports host Cleethorpes.
NEIL PARSLEY has urged Farsley AFC to take a leaf out of Harrogate Railway’s book when they visit Evo-Stik First Division North leaders Salford City tomorrow.
Parsley’s sixth-placed side may have suffered a humbling last time out on the road in a shock 2-1 reverse at New Mills, but he remains confident the players can put that behind them at tomorrow.
The emphasis will be on attack, according to Parsley, mindful of how Railway demolished Salford 4-1 at home soil in a shock result in mid-November. He said: “Harrogate Railway have shown the way for us by taking the game to Salford and coming away with a 4-1 win there in mid-November, so that is what we are going to try and do.
“When we played Salford at home, we were unlucky to get one point against them.
“Since we played them, they have changed their manager and the two guys in there from Ramsbottom know this league inside out and they have taken seven of their players from a side who are doing well in the league above us. We know it is tough and a big game. But the reason it is a big game is because we have both been doing well.
“Salford have been well documented and we are really looking forward to it and also have a big game against Scarborough next week and if we are still in and around it at the business end, we will achieve what we set out to do.”
Backing his players to respond on their travels after a poor result at New Mills on January 3, Parsley, who has Matt Dempsey available and is hoping Mikey Aspin and Spencer Harris will be fit, added: “New Mills was a shocker and we should have won the game twice over, but didn’t take our chances and have to learn from that.
“But I know what me and Jacko (assistant Mark Jackson) have in our dressing room that we are capable of going to the big boys and getting results.
“Yes, we have dropped points against a side second-from-bottom, but that’s done now and we can’t bring that result back or do anything about it apart from learn from it and get a decent result against one of the big boys.” Elsewhere tomorrow, Ossett Town welcome Bamber Bridge, while Ossett Albion travel to Lancaster City.
Harrogate Railway play host to Kendal, while Brighouse travel to Radcliffe.
In the Premier Division, Frickley are at home to Barwell and in the First Division South, Goole visit Market Drayton.
Meanwhile, Ossett Albion have been deducted three points after the FA upheld a charge that the club fielded an ineligible player.