HE MAY just be over four months away from his 37th birthday, but no-one can say that the impact of Kayode Odejayi is waning at Guiseley.
Quite the opposite in fact, with the much-travelled targetman’s nous, strength and experience still proving invaluable for the Nethermoor outfit, according to joint-manager Marcus Bignot.
Odejayi, who famously scored the winner for Barnsley to put them through to a Wembley semi-final in 2008 at the expense of then FA Cup holders Chelsea – in a memorable televised quarter-final upset – showed he was up for the cup again in midweek, helping his current club to the fourth qualifying round after netting the decisive goal in a 2-1 replay victory over plucky Cleethorpes Town.
The striker’s performance was all-the-more laudable given that it was just his second full game back following injury, with his physical and mental presence coming to the fore.
He is likely to be important over the coming weeks too for Guiseley, with the mid-tablers returning to National League North business at home to Brackley Town tomorrow.
On the impact of Odejayi, Bignot said: “Kayode had been out for a while and has now played two back-to-back games. It is not ideal, but we are really decimated in terms of injuries.
I think at a really important stage when Cleethorpes came back into the game and equalised, he came into his own physically and mentally. And I am really pleased he got the winner.Marcus Bignot on Kayode Odejayi
“So we are really calling upon Kayode and Paul Clayton. Credit to Kayode, he has been out for over a month and played 90 minutes on Saturday and again on Tuesday.
“I think at a really important stage when Cleethorpes came back into the game and equalised, he came into his own physically and mentally. And I am really pleased he got the winner.”
Offering an update on Guiseley’s injury situation, which shows no signs of easing, Bignot added: “Curtis (Morrison), who got 45 minutes on Tuesday night, is probably the closest in terms of those injured who could come back. But he is still not up to peak match fitness. But we still have long-term absentees in terms of the captain Scott Garner, Rowan Liburd, Louie Swain, Terry Kennedy and Reece Thompson.
“The situation has not really changed in terms of those players coming back.”
After showing character to dispense with Cleethorpes on Tuesday, Guiseley must again show their resolve against a seventh-placed Brackley side who Bignot knows well.
He said: “There are quite a lot players who I know from my Solihull Moors days and they know all about this league and how to win in this league and they have some serial winners there.
“We are under illusions, we face another difficult game, as we did on Tuesday.
“It was a tough game, but we got through it and the biggest thing for us is that we showed the mental strength and the prize money will be a welcome boost.
“It is important for us and now we have a home tie against very difficult opposition who I know well in Stourbridge, who are renowed cup fighters.
“Obviously, we should have seen the job through on Saturday (against Cleethorpes). With 84 minutes on the clock, we were 2-0 up and totally in control.
“It was a blow not to go through on the Saturday. But credit to the players, the pressure was all on us on Tuesday and Cleethorpes performed even better than they did on Saturday.”
A big clash at the top end of the table tomorrow sees Mark Bower’s Bradford Park Avenue welcome the side just above them in second-placed Kidderminster Harriers.