MARK BOWER admits that Guiseley have been handed the proverbial baptism of fire at the start of the 2016-17 campaign – which starts with a long trek to Eastleigh on Saturday, August 6.
The Lions have been given an epic first-day trip for the second successive season, with Eastleigh, who finished just outside of the National League play-offs last term, forming part of what Bower accepts is a daunting opening which sees them face three sides who just missed out on the play-offs last season and relegated Dagenham and Redbridge.
After visiting Ten Acres, Guiseley open up at home on Tuesday, August 9 against Wrexham, who they famously beat 3-1 in mid-April.
Three days later, Bower’s side welcome the Daggers before successive away trips to promoted North Ferriby (August 16) and Solihull Moors (August 20) before hosting Bromley, with August ending with a trip to Prenton Park to face Tranmere Rovers.
Home derbies with York both take place in midweek, with the Minstermen visiting Nethermoor on October 4 with the reverse fixture taking place at Bootham Crescent on November 29.
Over Christmas, Guiseley host Lincoln City on Boxing Day and visit Sincil Bank on New Year’s Day. They end the season at home to Soilhull on April 29. On Guiseley’s fixture list, Bower, who is still chasing a striker, goalkeeper and a midfielder, said: “It is tough. You look at the bookies’ odds in terms of the sides who will be up there and out of the top five in that list, we play four of those sides in the first seven games and three in the first week.
“Eastleigh away is a tough start. But having played there at the back end of last season, with the way the pitch was, we are probbaly glad we are going there early-season.
“We also got a good point down at Eastleigh last season and beat Wrexham at home and drew with them away and showed we are capable of getting results against the better sides.
“But it will be a real test with the travel and the first two home games as well.
“Last season, we got the first away game (Welling) out of the way and really cashed in on the two home games and won on Tuesday and Saturday and if we can get six points out of our first three games this time, I will certainly be pleased with that.
“But you look at last season and the first three teams we played ended up getting relegated. I don’t think that will be the case this time.”
York visit Maidstone United in their August 6 opener, while in National League North, FC Halifax Town head to Nuneaton and Harrogate Town and Bradford Park Avenue visit Worcester City and Gainsborough.
Over Christmas, York face back-to-back games with North Ferriby and Halifax play Darlington twice, with both playing the away games on Boxing Day and the reverse fixtures at home on New Year’s Day.
Harrogate, meanwhile, will host Stockport on Boxing Day and visit the Hatters on January 1.