GUISELEY manager Mark Bower may be mighty glad that master striking craftsman Phil Jevons will not be strutting his stuff in Stockport County colours on Saturday, but he does know one thing.
Namely that the Hatters are a stronger all-round proposition than they were last season, with their vital Vanarama North statistics pointing to that.
The Lions head to Edgeley Park tomorrow to face hosts who are right in the mix at the business end of the table in sixth spot, the start of a key run of fixtures in a critical run of games for Bower’s second-placed side.
Last season, ex-Huddersfield Town marksman Jevons hit two stunners to deny Guiseley in a 3-3 draw in Cheshire and the portents are set fair for another cracker tomorrow.
Bower said: “We kind of threw it away last year there and you have to give credit to Phil Jevons at the time who scored a couple of terrific goals.
“We played well and were really in control, but Jevons’ quality shone through and they nicked a point.
“I think they are an improved side this year. They don’t have a player of stand-out quality in Jevons this time, but what they have is experience at this level and a bit more of a physical presence.
“Their results have shown they are going to be competitive and up at the top end of the table and in that top five at the end of the season.”
He added: “The big games keep coming. We play Fylde over Christmas and Harrogate twice as well and Stockport and there are games we need to take points from.
“Coming out of the Christmas period, you will see who is competing right at the top.
“Going there after the Barrow game and playing in front of a big crowd is something we should thrive on and everyone is looking forward to it.”
Guiseley head over the M62 without the services of the suspended Danny Lowe and Wayne Brooksby to call upon and Bower will monitor Oli Johnson, who came off as a precaution in the midweek FA Trophy replay win at Rushall Olympic.
Bower said: “Oli came off as a slight precaution after feeling his groin, so we have to be very careful with him.
“With the two also suspended, we will have to switch things around a little bit.
“But while we don’t have a big squad, it has a lot of quality and the lads who will come in will be ones who are more than capable.
“There’s no reason why we can’t get a good result.
Action in the NCEL Premier sees a basement scrap see rock-bottom Glasshoughton Welfare host Nostell, mindful victory could see them swap places with the Wakefield outfit – with both sides desperate for a pre-Christmas fillip.
Garforth welcome struggling Liversedge in another all-Yorkshire battle, while Thackley host Armthorpe and Albion Sports visit Athersley Rec.
Paul Marshall’s Tadcaster Albion, for whom star man Jonathan Greening was sent off in last weekend’s draw at Worksop, switch focus and visit St Helens Town in the FA Vase.
In the NCEL Division One, third-placed Hemsworth MW welcome Shirebrook, in fifth, in the division’s game of the day.
Fourth-placed Pontefract Collieries visit Louth.
Leaders AFC Emley host Teversal and Yorkshire Amateur and Knaresborough Town welcome Dronfield and Winterton Rangers respectively.
Selby are on their travels and go to Clipstone.