PAUL COX believes that added financial backing from the Guiseley board can prove pivotal in the club’s latest Great Escape mission.
For the third season running, the Lions are in the midst of a National League relegation dogfight, with manager Cox pledging to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in his quest to bring in the right faces to clinch safety once more.
Since arriving at the club in the autumn, the Lions chief has already been proactive in the transfer market in his zeal to re-energise his squad.
Despite a raft of moves already, Cox is promising no let-up as he seeks to strike on a successful and consistent formula with the club also striving to bridge the gap between operating with a part-time and a full-time squad.
A host of players have arrived so far, with Reading full-back Jake Sheppard arriving on loan at the end of 2017, following on from the loan additions of young Nottingham Forest defender Adam Crookes and Oxford United striker James Roberts on a month’s loan midway through last month.
They have supplemented several additions from the early days of Cox’s reign, when the likes of Rowan Liburd, Mike Fondop and Jean-Yves Koue Niate arrived, followed by Alex-Ray Harvey and Liam Hughes and several others.
Despite using 33 players already in the National League, the squad will continue to evolve in the weeks ahead, according to Cox, with everyone at the club conscious of the need to do whatever it takes to stay up in a key season for the club following their decision to go full-time.
Cox, whose second-from-bottom side visit Eastleigh tomorrow and are eight points behind fifth-from-bottom Barrow, said: “Some of the loans aren’t costing us a penny and overall Steve (Parkin), John (Gill) and James (Ferguson) have a understanding of what we need to do and understand the dynamics of what I inherited.
“To achieve what we need to do, we probably need to go a little bit above and beyond what has happened in previous years because of the logistics of the league and what I inherited.
“Sometimes, you can look at it and ‘play safe’. But in a league like ours this year, that could be a negative and we could come unstuck.
“The board have been brilliant and everyone wants to repay them with good performances and results to achieve our goal of staying in the league.”
Without the number of new recruits already, Cox believes that the club would be a desperate – and potentially hopeless – position already, with the Lions, as it stands, still having a fighting chance of survival.
But Cox remains acutely aware that the clock is ticking, with the club needing to get their recruitment right in the critical weeks ahead to maintain their hopes of survival.
He added: “The market has been very stale and if we had not brought bodies in, I think the club would have been in a lot worse position and probably something that they would not have recovered from.
“Bodies need bringing in. If you look at the squad, it has been top-heavy right from the beginning of the season because of the six, seven, eight or nine injuries for those players who have not played for the majority of the season.
“The board understand that and also understand that to achieve our goals at the end of the season, we cannot leave any stone unturned.
“We need some quality in key areas and that has never been in doubt since I arrived. Obviously, there has got to be a yin to a yang and bodies going (too).”
FC Halifax visit Maidenhead tomorrow.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver said the club have been left “frustrated” by the Football Association’s refusal to rescind Simon Ainge’s red card against North Ferriby United, writes CONNOR CRAIG-JACKSON..
The 12-goal striker was dismissed in the closing stages of the 3-0 National League North victory on December 23 for allegedly lashing out at visiting player Jake Picton. He has since been handed a three-match ban.
Town appealed the decision and submitted video footage as well as frame-by-frame stills of the incident which they believed would clear Ainge of any wrongdoing.
Yet the FA ruled that there was insufficient evidence to overturn referee Simon Mather’s initial interpretation of what occurred when Ainge and Picton clashed.
“It’s really frustrating for us because Simon is a big player and now he’s sidelined for three games when he is innocent,” Weaver said.
“We spent money on the appeal because we were sure that the footage and images that we provided showed that he hadn’t raised an arm or directed a blow at their lad.
“It’s a real blow to us and I’m very disappointed.”
To add to Town’s frustrations, central defenders Warren Burrell and Terry Kennedy are also suspended for tomorrow’s trip to 10th-placed Chorley, forcing boss Weaver to shuffle his pack.
Ben Parker and youngster Toby Lees are expected to start in the centre of the Harrogate defence with Ryan Fallowfield likely to return at right-back.
Meanwhile a tough encounter for Bradford Park Avenue sees them try and get back to winning ways in a 1.30pm kick-off with promotion rivals Spennymoor Town.
The Evo-Stik Premier meanwhile also sees Farsley Celtic face a huge test against league-leaders Altrincham, while in-form Ossett Albion host Trafford in the Evo-Stik North.
Elsewhere Ossett Town will still be looking for a surge in form when they welcome Colwyn Bay, while Tadcaster Albion host second placed South Shields. Brighouse Town meanwhile travel to Kendal Town in search of a much-needed win, while Frickley Athletic look to continue their winning run when they host Loughborough Dynamo in the Evo-Stik South.
The first game of the new year for Pickering Town provides a chance to put distance between themselves and the promotion outsiders, as they host fifth-placed Maltby Main, who will need a victory to stay in touch, writes CONNOR CRAIG-JACKSON.
The same can also be said of sixth-placed Hemsworth MW, who have a strong chance of grabbing a first win in four when they face a Cliptone side still without a point. Elsewhere, Liversedge travel to Worksop Town hoping to keep their terrific form going into 2018, as will as Garforth Town when they welcome Albion Sports.
Harrogate Railway, meanwhile, still lie dangerously in the drop zone, with victory at Athersley Recreation tomorrow needed to stay within reach of safety.
Despite still having plenty of games in hand to claw back the gap behind the league summit, Pontefract Collieries take yet another break from league action as they travel to Witton Albion’s ground for an FA Vase fourth-round outing with 1874 Northwich.
The Division One lead, however, could change hands by the end of tomorrow as Knaresborough Town host league leaders Grimsby Borough in a mouth-watering title clash between two sides separated only by goals difference.
This outing, however, could also give Yorkshire Amateur the chance to pull closer to the top two, but they will have to see off an AFC Emley side, who have shown some strong form recently. Selby Town will also be expected to return to winning ways in their match with struggling Retford United, with Town still comfortably in the play-offs places despite a narrow recent loss to Knaresborough.
Also looking for a return to form are Glasshoughton Welfare, who face another struggling side in Nostell Miners’ Welfare, who are still sitting too close to the relegation zone for comfort.