GUISELEY midfielder Alex Purver has hailed the impact of caretaker-boss Sean St Ledger – and has paid tribute to him for bringing the squad back together again.
The Lions – whose weekend game with Dagenham and Redbridge fell victim to the weather yesterday morning with the ‘Beast from the East’ maintaining its icy and snowy grip upon the UK – may still be in desperate relegation strife in the National League, but a lack of togetherness and the presence of two different camps is at least no longer an issue, according to Purver.
Earlier this season, the decision to switch to a full-time status proved an ill-fated one, with several players with part-time status who have been part of the club’s story during several previously successful campaigns being jettisoned or overlooked.
In a bid to foster some togetherness, St Ledger has brought those back in the fold and other part-timers who were previously on the periphery and the move has raised morale.
Purver told the YEP: “He has come in and integrated a lot of the part-time players back into the fold, whether that has been in training or in games. I think that has raised morale.
“He has kind of basically said to us: ‘If we are going to be anything and anything is going to happen, then we have to be together and one squad’. We have to be a team together and it is only us now who are going to get us out of it.
“That is the minimum that we need to be; together as a squad. He has really focused on that and done it in the short time he has been in charge.
“He has said there is no-one else who is going to get us out of it. We have to come together and you cannot understatement how getting the part-time lads back in has really helped bring a togetherness and feeling.
“It is not two teams; we are together now and pulling in the same direction to try and pull us out of this.
“Obviously, he has brought that bit of experience to the dressing room also. He has played at a fantastic level and a wealth of experience which can only help young players like myself and everyone really.
“Since he has taken the caretaker role, it has been good so far.”
What has not significantly improved are results, although St Ledger has at least presided over an end to rock-bottom Guiseley’s atrocious new-year streak, courtesy of the recent Roses win over Fylde.
There was emphatically no ‘bounce’ and follow-up result with the Lions thrashed 4-0 at high-flying Sutton last Saturday, with further frustration abounding when an immediate chance of redemption was denied Guiseley as Tuesday’s key home game with Barrow at Nethermoor fell victim to the weather.
In the final analysis to most observers, it increasingly looks a case of when not if the Lions are relegated back to the National League North after three seasons in the fifth tier of English football, although Purver insists all is not lost just yet.
He said: “There is no pressure on us any more as everybody from the outside feels like we are already down.
“But I know that within the camp, squad and whole club in general, we don’t feel like that at all.
“We are not under any false illusions that it is an easy task and it is just a couple of wins, it is a massive uphill climb now.
“But it is still possible; still definitely possible with the games that we have got coming up.
“The feeling and sense of morale in the squad is really different from some points that it is has been at this season.”
A weekend of fixtures wiped out by snow has given Farsley Celtic manager Adam Lakeland the chance to reflect on a “pleasing” first season so far in the Farsley dugout, writes CONNOR CRAIG-JACKSON.
Despite being newly promoted this season, Farsley are still firmly in the mix for an Evo-Stik Premier play-off place, with Lakeland believing his team have progressed hugely since his arrival last year in May.
“I’d like to think that we have changed a number of things at the club,” says Lakeland. “First and foremost on the football side I think the levels of professionalism, the standards in training and just the whole mentality of the group has improved a lot.
“I’d also like to think that we’re a bit more diverse as a team, we can play multiple different systems or styles and we look at each game individually to try and get the best result we can regardless of who we’re playing against.
“The players have been very adaptable and I think the work that we’ve put in on the training ground has all been reflected on the pitch, which is very pleasing.”
An Evo-Stik North play-off place looks ever more likely for Tadcaster Albion, with a run of six league wins in eight since the turn of the year putting them just two points off the play-offs with three games in hand.
Their credentials were further highlighted last week after they swept aside promotion rivals Droylsden 4-0.
Ossett Town still hold faint play-off hopes while neighbours Ossett Albion and Brighouse Town continue their own fights for survival.
The South division also sees Frickley Town now facing a huge task to reclaim the automatic promotion spots, after their eight-game winning was followed by them them losing three of their last four, with their most recent being crucial defeats against promotion rivals.
Meanwhile, National League North leaders Harrogate Town face a mouth-watering title battle with Salford City, leading them purely on goal difference, while Bradford Park Avenue are no closer to re-discovering their previous play-off form, with their most recent fixture seeing them become only the second team all season to lose to relegation-destined North Ferriby United.
A busy month of fixtures sees title-hopefuls Pontefract Collieries start off at the side they have been hunting down since the turn of the year, as they head to league leaders AFC Mansfield in what could be a crucial fixture, writes CONNOR CRAIG-JACKSON.
Despite sitting 13 points behind the league leaders, Pontefract have a huge seven games in hand, with a recent blip for Mansfield increasing the former league leaders’ hopes.
Victory for Pontefract would leave them just needing four more wins from their seven in hand to once again reach the summit, as they look set to be in for a serious battle if they are to to catch the Bulls.
Also within touching distance of top spot are Pickering Town, with top scorer Ryan Blott now back in top form, while a recent blip has left Hemsworth Miners Welfare on the fringes of the promotion race.
Meanwhile, fairly mixed seasons for Garforth Town and Liversedge see them both looking to simply end their seasons on a high, while relegation- threatened Harrogate Railway face an incredibly tough match against second-placed Handsworth Parramore which depends on a pitch inspection today.
After quickly getting back to winning ways Yorkshire Amateur now have the momentum to once again mount a push for automatic promotion from Division One, while Selby Town remain strong in sixth despite still having to keep a close eye on the play-off chasing pack that includes Glasshoughton Welfare.
It is Knaresbrough Town however who remain dominant at the top, nine points clear of second-placed Eccleshill and unbeaten since November.
Some impressive recent performances against strong sides have significantly boosted Nostell Miners Welfare’s survival hopes, while AFC Emley still remain safely in mid-table despite highly mixed form since the turn of the year.