IN TERMS of his eve-of-play-off-final message, Guiseley boss Mark Bower couldn’t be clearer.
It is summed up in the following sentence: ‘Let’s finish off the job’ as the Lions strive to put right the hurt of May 10, 2014 and several years before that besides.
You sense Guiseley players won’t require much of a team-talk ahead of tomorrow’s Vanarama North play-off final at Chorley, with Conference football the prize at stake again.
No-one will need reminding of how it heart-breakingly slipped from their grasp at Moss Rose last year when Guiseley were the bridesmaids again after Altrincham netted a cruel final winner with almost the last kick in extra time.
If anyone is overdue some luck, it’s Guiseley, in their fifth successive play-off campaign at this level and expect the dressing-room words to be clear and succinct at Victory Park tomorrow afternoon (3pm).
Bower, who says that what happened at Alty was his lowest point in football, said: “I think it has to be in terms of losing so late, it doesn’t get much lower.
“But we have an opportunity to put things right.
“A fair few people doubted us in the semi-final with Fylde and had them down to get through comfortably.
“But we have only done half a job and we have got to finish off the job as we have been here too many times now ...”
For fans and many Lions players alike, play-off disappointments have proved a shared experience over the years.
Up to 800 Lions fans will head across the Pennines tomorrow in hope rather than expectation and Bower is desperate for them and everyone connected with the club to finally have their moment after some considerable anguish in the past.
He said: “We have been here before and had so many defeats in the past and are keen to do it not just for ourselves, but the volunteers and everyone around the club who help make it run. We want to do it for them as well as us.”
Cool heads and concentration will play its part tomorrow, with Guiseley experiencing that lesson in the harshest possible terms last year in the words of Bower, who will issue a few reminders of that, should it be needed to his players.
Bower added: “The disappointment of last year is a driving force.
“I will be reminding the lads about little things such as concentration in the last few seconds and making sure it doesn’t cost us.
“Things like that are a timely reminder to make sure everyone focused and people are switched on for 90 minutes or 120 minutes.
“It will certainly make us that little bit stronger from last year.
“We have got a lot of players in the side who have play-off finals experience, including in final victories as well.
“It makes us sound like an old side, but we have younger lads who have experienced it all such as Wayne Brooksby, Adam Boyes and Jake Lawlor, who have experience of playing in big games and keeping cool heads when needed.
“That experience gives us the opportunity to make the right decisions at important times of games.
“Hopefully, those cool heads will stand us in good stead.”
Defenders Danny Ellis and Ben Parker remain sidelined for Guiseley for tomorrow’s crunch clash in Lancashire.