Guiseley gearing up for massive home clash with relegation rivals Barrow

Guiseley's James Roberts.
Guiseley's James Roberts.
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GAMES simply do not get any bigger for Guiseley tomorrow.

The fact that Lions manager Paul Cox is locking horns with his former club Barrow at Nethermoor is pretty inconsequential, with claiming some element of personal pride at his old side’s expense probably being the last thing in his mind.

What is at the forefront of his thoughts is taking three points against a direct rival also at the wrong end of the National League and providing a much-needed chink of light in second-from-bottom Guiseley’s survival mission for Lions supporters.

Admirably, Cox’s glass remains half-full, despite a number of blows in recent times, none moreso that last weekend’s cruel late loss at AFC Fylde, with Guiseley having now won just once in their past 11 league outings and time starting to run out.

It means that the Lions trail next opponents Barrow, who lie one place above the relegation zone, by nine points – albeit with a game in hand – with the need for a home victory tomorrow being of monumental importance.

Cox, who left Barrow towards the end of August and linked up with Guiseley soon after, said: “It is a fine line between three points and no points at the moment and it is about doing something about it. It is about results, we need 18 good results.

“The positives are that no-one is running away with it down there and I think it is between ourselves up to Hartlepool probably. It is the fine line of winning games now.

“When I was at Mansfield, we were 10 points off at this stage of the season to winning the championship. It can be done, but we need that settled unit now and a bit of luck with injuries and illness too.

“We have now got to be ruthless in both boxes, that is what it is down to. I think we had eight chances and scored two at Eastleigh and they had six chances and scored four. It is being a bit more ruthless.”

On the mathematics on the job in hand, Cox added: “Everyone is looking at that 50-point mark. Whether you need that this year with the league as it is with everyone seeming to beat each other, I am not too sure. But all the teams at the bottom want to get to that mark as quickly as possible.

“It is something you are looking at. But you do not want to get too far and look too far ahead of yourself and lose concentration on the next game.

“There is a points tally, but everyone in promotion and relegation are looking at that.”

Guiseley have at least been handed a pre-game boost with the news that striker James Roberts and defender Adam Crookes have extended their loans for the rest of the season, from Oxford United and Nottingham Forest respectively.

Roberts has shown particular promise since heading to Nethermoor in December, scoring twice in seven matches.

Opponents Barrow, who suffered a miserable FA Trophy loss to Brackley Town in midweek, have added a new goalkeeper ahead of tomorrow’s game in the shape of ex-Gillingham custodian and former England C international Steve Arnold.

Despite a decent buffer, 16th-placed Halifax Town cannot rest totally easy and still have work to do to involve being dragged into a relegation scrap, with the injury situation not exactly helping matters for Billy Heath’s side either.

Heath was without midfielder Michael Collins last weekend’s Trophy exit due to illness, while Michael Duckworth, out for a lengthy spell this season, now sidelined with an ankle issue.

Collins and Cliff Moyo should at least return for tomorrow’s home game with Leyton Orient.