Boss Russ O’Neill expecting Guiseley to bite back

Russ O'Neill.
Russ O'Neill.
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JOINT-boss Russ O’Neill is backing his Guiseley troops to come out firing against tomorrow’s hosts Darlington and show a potent reaction following defeat to Blyth Spartans.

Guiseley lost only their second home match of the season on Tuesday as Blyth recorded a 3-1 success at Nethermoor that left the Lions 13th ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Darlington who are one place lower on goal difference.

Harrogate 'Town's Joe Leesley.

Harrogate 'Town's Joe Leesley.

But O’Neill is taking heart from Guiseley’s response to last month’s 4-2 defeat at York City which was followed by a 2-1 victory at home to Brackley Town and a goalless draw with Kidderminster Harriers at Nethermoor.

Since suffering back-to-back defeats at Boston United and at home to Chorley in the first two games, the losses to York and Blyth are Guiseley’s only two reverses this term.

“It is all about putting it right on Saturday,” said O’Neill.

“You learn more after a defeat from the players, it is about learning from that loss.

Liam Kitching.

Liam Kitching.

“We lost to York and wanted a reaction and got one and nearly ended the month unbeaten. We want to train well ahead of that game and hopefully take out on Darlington what we didn’t do against Blyth.”

Tommy Wright’s Darlington approach the fixture following consecutive draws at Bradford Park Avenue and Leamington and unbeaten in four following the previous 1-0 win at home to Boston United and 2-1 triumph at FC United.

Avenue, who are third, visit 12th-placed York City tomorrow with the Minstermen having lost 3-0 at Spennymoor United on Tuesday.

In National League, fourth-placed Harrogate Town welcome Chesterfield with Town winger Joe Leesley admitting Town’s tag of favourites is a sign of the times.

Having been in League One in 2017 when Town were in National League North – three divisions lower – Leesley’s side are now 15 places higher than sixth-bottom Chesterfield after the Spireites’ back-to-back relegations.

“If you’d have said that Harrogate Town would be heavy favourites going into a match with Chesterfield a couple of years ago, it would have been seen as a ludicrous statement,” said Leesley.

“But that’s the reality now. It’s a big game for us against a huge club, but all that matters is that we get the three points.”

Town did just that on Tuesday night, winning 4-2 at home to Barrow with Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa in the stands running the rule over Whites loanee centre-back Liam Kitching.

The victory left Town just two points behind leaders Salford City, who Simon Weaver’s men visit at the end of this month on Tuesday, November 27. Salford, who are unbeaten in 15, winning 11, visit tenth-placed Eastleigh tomorrow. Reflecting on his own form, Leesley added: “I feel like I’m fully fit now. I’m playing week in, week out and I definitely think I’m performing better than last season.

“We got promoted to the National League and I felt as though I had to step up another level, so as a result I’d say that I’m playing as well now as I ever have. I’m doing more for the team, particularly defensively, and my overall work-rate has improved, but I’m still not satisfied. I’m confident in my own ability and I’m sure there is more to come. Hopefully in the weeks to come I can chip in with some more match-winning performances and goals.

“I set myself a target before the season of reaching double figures for both goals and assists and it’s taken a lot longer than I would have liked to score my first; I still believe I will get to my target.”