ADAM LOCKWOOD has revealed that he has set a specific target for Guiseley in 2017-18 – but the last thing he will be caught doing is going public.
The Lions start their third National League season at home to Ebbsfleet tomorrow, no doubt hoping for a relatively stress-free campaign in comparison to their first two years at this level, which have seen them stave off relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Given a roller-coaster 2016-17 which saw Guiseley cast adrift in mid-autumn and look relegation certainties, only to stage a miraculous recovery under the guidance of Lockwood and assistant Dave Penney before dropping into the relegation trouble again, it perhaps makes sense for the Nethermoor boss to keep his aims in-house.
One rather more open and more obvious target will be for the Lions to make a rather quicker start than they did last season – when a horrendous opening saw Mark Bower axed, with Guiseley ultimately failing to pick up a victory in their opening 13 league matches.
Lockwood told the YEP: “Every club in the country will be saying they want a good start and we are no different to that.
“We have tried to prepare as best we can to put ourselves in a situation where we do.
“It will be very tough and not easy in any way. Anyone who thinks that is in the wrong place. We are a small club up against some big clubs with big resources at our level and it is about seeing if we can get ‘edges’ all over to help us if people want to achieve and competing where we want to be.
“Every level gets harder every year, whatever level you play at. Everybody raises the bar and if you stand still, it is very tough.
“We will certainly be trying to raise our bar and concentrate on us, first and foremost. Hopefully, we will get ourselves right for the challenges ahead.
“I know where I want to be and I have made that clear within our changing room. Obviously, that stays within the camp. If we achieve that, I will tell people at the end of the season.
“As a group, we have set our sights and we are working towards what we want to achieve and hopefully we can get there.”
Lockwood has been busy in the transfer market this week, bringing in four players ahead of the big kick-off.
They include ex-loanees Kevan Hurst and Alex Purver along with one-time Huddersfield Town striker Frank Mulhern and ex-Morecambe winger Lee Molyneux.
The recruits add to a number of other new faces who will supplement a core of players from last season, with Lockwood and his staff working overtime to get his squad ready for the challenges ahead in terms of fitness, numbers and organisation.
He added: ““A lot of hard work has gone in over the summer and I haven’t had much of one (summer), to be honest.
“But it’s all part of what we do. I have enjoyed it and am learning all the time, which is good.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, Halifax host Aldershot. In National League North, Harrogate welcome Nuneaton, Bradford Park Avenue visit Tamworth, and York City entertain Telford.
THE FA Cup takes centre-stage tomorrow as our Northern Counties East League teams are back in competitive action after the long summer break, writes RORY STEEL.
AFC Emley, who missed out narrowly on promotion from Northern Counties East League Division One, host Burscough.
Liversedge, who have never been relegated from any division in their history, face a tough trip to Armthrope Welfare.
Paul Marshall’s Pickering Town, who were close to lifting the Premier Division title last season, travel to Billingham Town.
Ponefract Collieries, recently promoted to the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, host Alsager Town.
Wayne Benn’s Hemsworth Miners Welfare take a trip to Runcorn Linnets, while Rob Hunter’s Garforth Town visit Sunderland RCA. Harrogate Railway Athletic, who have reached the FA Cup second round twice – the last being 2007 and a 3-2 home defeat to Football League Club Mansfield Town – head to Thackley.
Meanwhile, in the Northern Counties East Division One there are two local derbies to look forward to tomorrow. Knaresborough Town will host Nostell Miners Welfare, whilst Glasshoughton Welfare face a potentially tricky trip to Selby Town.
The last fixture taking place tomorrow will see Richard Addy’s Yorkshire Amateur take on Eccleshill United at home.