GUISELEY joint-manager Marcus Bignot has issued an FA Cup warning ahead of tomorrow’s fourth-qualifying round tie with Stourbridge – insisting that the Midlanders are a National League North side in all but name.
Stourbridge may be the underdogs prior to the Nethermoor encounter, but Bignot believes that it will be an even contest, with the visitors showing their cup pedigree by virtue of a fine victory over Kidderminster Harriers in the last round.
Second in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central, the Glassboys have already eliminated two National League North sides in Harriers and Leamington and Bignot is anxious that Guiseley do not become the third.
Bignot said: “For me, you only have to look at Stourbridge’s record this season and not only in the Cup. For me, they are a National North club in the waiting and I would not be surprised if, come this time next season, they are one.
“Having watched them over the weekend – on Saturday and Monday – they have got a squad which is certainly capable of competing at this level that we are currently in.
“They have got some good stories to tell in the FA Cup. I would not call them giant killers as I know they would have been expecting to beat Kidderminster and they will be expecting to beat us with the mindset and mentality which that group have got.
“It will be a difficult game for us, but we are encouraged by the form we have shown and with home advantage as well. We are really looking forward to it and it is an opportunity to get into the first round proper.”
Victory tomorrow would effectively bank £50,000 for the Lions from this season’s FA Cup campaign so far and, for Bignot, a cash bonanza would arrive hand in hand with some Cup kudos – more especially if Guiseley progress and land a plum first-round tie with the draw to be made live on BBC2 at 7pm on Monday.
“For owners, chairmen, directors and supporters, when you get to that fourth-qualifying round, the reality is that you are one game away from a possibility of drawing a Sunderland or a Portsmouth in the first round and maybe a live game,” he added.
“But for me, our ‘cup final’ would be the third round and drawing a Premier League club away. That would be a fairytale in our own little world, but there is some way still to go to do that.
“But financially we are now so close to a cash reward and we know the importance of Saturday for all concerned. We have won about £25,000 in prize money and whoever gets their football club to the first round will bank £50,000, which is a healthy income and not to be sniffed at.
“Then there is the opportunity of drawing a big club and maybe a live TV game as well.”
Guiseley head into the game on the back of a 2-1 league victory over Brackley last time out, thanks to a late goal from substitute Paul Clayton.
The win represented the Lions’ third successive triumph in all competitions on home soil and extended their unbeaten sequence at Nethermoor to six matches since a 2-0 reverse to Chorley on August 7.
The Lions must make do without long-term injury absentees Scott Garner, Rowan Liburd, Reece Thompson and Terry Kennedy.
Kayode Odejayi, Lewis Walters, Curtis Morrison and Kaine Felix are back in the squad, but remain short in terms of match sharpness according to Bignot, with the forthcoming league and cup games being utilised to get them fully back up to speed.
Harrogate Town are well and truly up for the FA Cup ahead of this weekend’s visit of National League rivals Wrexham.
Simon Weaver’s side will face-off with the Welsh outfit for the second time in less than a month when they meet in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup tomorrow (3pm).
And the Town boss says the club are desperate to go on a run in the competition, with the hope of landing a big-name opponent in the next round.
“An FA Cup run is massive for us, there’s something magical about this competition and we really want to do well,” he said.
“When we beat Torquay away from home a few years ago we were high as a kite, and they’re the kind of experiences that you want to repeat. Saturday is a big game for us, there could be an even bigger one waiting if we win.”
Town were held to a goalless draw by the Dragons when they visited Wetherby Road last month and Weaver feels that his players will need to show more of a cutting edge second time around.
“Wrexham are a good side, on a decent run and very hard to break down, so we’ll have to have a bit more craft about us,” he added.
Meanwhile, FC Halifax Town striker Dayle Southwell hopes to start another FA Cup adventure when the Shaymen travel to Warrington tomorrow.
Halifax travel to the Northern Premier Division side in the fourth qualifying round with a place in the first round and a £25,000 cash windfall at stake.
Southwell was part of the Lincoln side that knocked out Premier League Burnley in the fifth round of the cup in 2017.
Only a week before, Southwell had played his first game in five months following a frustrating time at Wycombe Wanderers, with whom he had turned professional at the start of the season.
“I’d only signed there (Lincoln) on a month’s loan,” says the Halifax striker, who arrived at The Shay this summer from Guiseley. “I’d not been there for the last cup game, but got chucked in for the Burnley game.
“We had a plan to get through one 15 minutes, see if we can keep them out, then get through another, then another, and before we knew it, there was five minutes left and it was still 0-0, and we thought ‘we’ve got a chance here’.”
Cue Sean Raggett, who rose above the Burnley defence, and Southwell, to head home in the 89th minute.
“I had it taken off my head,” says Southwell, “it could have been me scoring the winner!”
Lincoln became the first non-league side in 103 years to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, beating a team 81 places above them in the football pyramid in the process.
“We had a great run, getting to the quarter-finals, and that was an unbelievable game,” recalls Southwell.
“It was a surreal experience, playing in a Premier League stadium, and getting the win.
“I think everyone writes you off – a Conference team against a Premier League team, and we ended up scoring really late on.
“It was crazy, probably the craziest moment of my career.
“But it was a brilliant experience.
“It’d be nice to get another cup run like that! I’d love that.”
Halifax go into tomorrow’s game on the back of a 1-1 draw at home to Chesterfield, a match which Southwell felt The Shaymen should have won.
“I thought we dominated for large parts of the game,” he said. “We were unlucky to concede late on, and all the lads are disappointed.
“We know what they’re about, they’ve got a threat with their long throws and their set-pieces, but apart from that we thought we dominated the game and we deserved to win.
“All the lads said there was a foul in there for their goal, so that’s disappointing.
“We nearly won it at the end as well with Kyle’s (Wootton) header. We’re playing well, and you can see that we’re looking good. It’s just we don’t seem to be getting the luck at the minute.”