As Guiseley manager Paul Cox prepares to rally his troops for their return to the National League relegation battle, a tough outing at Ebbsfleet United tomorrow has been made even tougher by suspensions and knocks picked up from Guiseley’s FA Cup exit at Mansfield on Sunday.
Suspensions for Chris M’Boungou and Darren Holden following their FA Cup sending offs as well as injury concerns for Jake Lawlor, Kevan Hurst and Mike Fondop leave Guiseley with it all to do on their trip to Stonebridge Road, but Cox insists that the season holds plenty of promise for his side now that their historic cup run is behind them.
“It’s [the Ebbsfleet game’s] going to be tough,” said Cox. “We’re going up against a club with some very good resources. But it’s not about who we’re playing, it’s about getting back to our standards now and we need to put all the razzmatazz of the FA Cup to bed and really now get to grips with what is our bread and butter, which is the league games.
“I think now we’ve got 25 games left, which is an amazing amount of points to play for. On the run up to the FA Cup we managed to get ourselves out of the relegation zone and we fell back into it albeit with a couple of games in hand on a lot of teams.
“But there are still a lot of games to play and I think there will be some amazing twists and turns, but we’re planning intrinsically for what we would call a huge 25 games for us.”
The last few seasons have certainly had their fair share of “twists and turns” for Guiseley, who will remain within reach of safety should they win their games in hand.
While Cox admits the FA Cup has been “a lovely distraction”, it certainly has not provided any favours for his side’s league campaign, which has seen a very noticeable dip in form.
“If you look at the three results that we’ve just had, they haven’t been in sync’ with the results before,” he said. “I think before the FA Cup games we’d only had two defeats in 11 in all competitions and then we lose three on the bounce.
“That comes down to a number of things, one of them being that we played the Bromley game with 10 men for near on 90 minutes and then went away to Accrington and played more or less 90 minutes with 10 men.
“That gave us a bit of a headache ahead of the Dagenham and Redbridge game and then people also aren’t as focused on the Sutton game with the FA Cup game against Mansfield being so close.
“I would never turn my nose up at the FA Cup but obviously our priority has to be the league and we need to get back to playing the way we played before the FA Cup games.”
Also, ever-present throughout the club is their on-going transition from part-time to ful-time, and Cox added: “The transition’s been the hardest part. I’d say the football side of it is relatively easy. When you look at it before I first came in I think there were about eight points on the board and a -18 goals difference and I do believe if we hadn’t have made that change then the club would have been cut adrift.
“I don’t think the club would have made many strides forward so all these decisions off the pitch are giving us what I would call a chance to achieve our goal this season. The dynamic within the group that comes into it [the transition] has to be adjusted properly, but ultimately I think it will be the best decision that the club’s ever made.”
And on the FA Cup being over: “In a way it’s been a lovely distraction and I’d never take away the fact that I made a little but of history so early on here.”