After a series of slips against lower league opposition in cup competitions, Mark Bower is keen for his Guiseley side to avoid a cup upset against Burscough tomorrow.
Bower has been with the Lions since 2011, first as a player and now as a manager, and in that time Guiseley have suffered upsets against both Northern League side Ashington in the FA Cup and Evo-Stik club Skelmersdale United in the FA Trophy.
The former Bradford City full-back has understandably been preparing his side to ensure they do not suffer a similar fate.
Burscough have been in exceptional recent form themselves, not losing in any competition since October 10, when they were beaten 3-0 by Harrogate Town. They have also won seven games in a row.
“We know it’s not going to be easy,” said Bower. “I’ve been at Guiseley for four or five years. In that time, we have lost to Ashington in the FA Cup, Skelmersdale in the FA Trophy, teams several leagues below us. Last year we struggled to get past Droylsden in the cup and were taken to a replay by Rushall Olympic in the trophy.
“Burscombe are on a terrific run in which they’ve lost only once in 17. They have also won 11 of the last 12 games. With a record like that, you must have some good players.
“Away from home always makes it more difficult, and they will be playing with no pressure on. The pressure is all on us, and it’s down to us to deal with that and make sure we aren’t the team that is beaten by a lower league side this weekend.”
Bower has a plan to get Guiseley into the second round. There was absolutely no suggestion that he would name a weakened side, and he wants his players to dominate from the off in order to grab the prize that is potentially on offer.
He said: “It’s important to start the game well, get on the front foot. If we can do that, it will certainly help us. We will treat it as seriously as any other game we play this season.
“There is a big prize on offer, getting to Wembley in this competition. We saw last year, North Ferriby United did it. There is no reason why a team of our standing can’t look to emulate something like that.
“To get there, you have to get over all of the hurdles, and this is the first one to get over if we want to get through.
“There won’t be too many changes. We will certainly be going in there to win the game, and we should have enough quality to do that.”
Guiseley will be without long-term injury lay-offs Rob Atkinson, Ollie Johnson and Ben Parker, a group that has been added to by James Hurst, who suffered a thigh pull last week. However, Bower will be able to call on Bury loanee Anthony Dudley, who is in a rich vein of goalscoring form. The manager praised Dudley, saying: “He’s done very well for us.
“Five goals in seven games in the National League is a very good return.
“He could have had a couple more as well. He’s a clever player, he gets himself in good positions to score goals.
“He has certainly been a big plus for us, and the goals that he has scored have made a difference in games.”
Elsewhere in the first round, FC Halifax Town host Tamworth, and Bradford Park Avenue will face visitors Lincoln City.
A Defeat in the third round of qualification for the FA Trophy means that Harrogate Town are the only Yorkshire side involved in National League North action tomorrow.
Harrogate lost 1-0 to Curzon Ashton on November 28, knocking them out of the competition, which means their tie against Stalybridge Celtic at Bower Fold can go ahead.
The lack of fixtures elsewhere in the division means that a victory for Harrogate would be guaranteed to lift them to fifth in the division, leapfrogging Boston United in the process.
Simon Weaver’s side have been excellent away from home this campaign, winning six times on their travels.
Tadcaster Albion are in FA Vase action, travelling to Sunderland RCA in the third round of the competition.
Albion, who are third in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, reached the quarter-final of the competition last season. They were eliminated by Highworth Town, who won 1-0 after a replay.
Elsewhere in the third round, Sheffield side Handsworth Parramore host Cleethorpes Town.
The Northern Counties East League Premier Division sees 15th placed Pontefract Collieries host Parkgate, who are 21st in the top flight.
Collieries lost their last game 2-1 away from home against Athersley Recreation. A victory tomorrow could move them up two places to 13th, although they would rely on the team in that position, Retford United, and Maltby Main drawing their clash.
Nostell Miners Welfare are on the road as they travel to 11th placed Pickering Town. Welfare are seven places behind Saturday’s opposition.
Liversedge will play the role of guests at Barton Town Old Boys. A victory for Liversedge would bely the current league positions of tomorrow’s opponents, as Barton Town have been one of the division’s form sides and occupy fourth spot while Liversedge are stuck in 20th.
Division One leaders Hemsworth Miners Welfare will look to extend their lead at the top of the table when they face Winterton Rangers, who are 21st in the division.
Selby Town host Bottesford Town, while Glasshougton Welfare travel to Hallam and Westella VIP face Grimsby Borough.
After a weekend without action, Frickley Athletic will be looking for a victory against Workington tomorrow.
Athletic’s game against Nantwich Town last weekend was postponed by the referee due to the high winds, which he believed had the potential to endanger the safety of the players. Frickley have been given a boost ahead of the game, bringing midfielder Sam Akeroyd into the club.
Akeroyd moves to the Westfield Lane Stadium after leaving Ossett Town. He has also played for Brighouse Town, Harrogate Railway Athletic and Garforth Town. Elsewhere tomorrow, Farsley Celtic host Mossley in the First Division North.
Celtic had a confidence boost last weekend when they defeated Stocksbridge Park Steels 6-0 in the Integro Doodson League Cup, and will be hoping to carry that form into the league.
A victory for Neil Parsley’s team would lift them up to 14th.
Harrogate Railway Athletic, 21st in the table, are also at home against Trafford.
Relegation-threatened Athletic could climb as high as 19th if they get a victory against their opposition, who are comfortably on the top half of the league ladder.
Ossett Albion have lost only one of their last nine games in all competitions, form they will want to keep going against struggling Radcliffe Borough. Albion are fifth, in one of the play-off positions.
Meanwhile, local rivals Ossett Town travel to Glossop North End and Brighouse Town host Kendal Town.