BACK-TO-BACK home defeats may be far from ideal preparation for Guiseley ahead of tomorrow’s trip to National League leaders Forest Green –but there is one statistic that Mark Bower distinctly finds more to his liking.
Namely, his Lions side being without a defeat on the road in five matches since the opening day of the season and they take that sturdy record to the New Lawn tomorrow.
Guiseley may have only once won on their travels, but they have been obdurate, disciplined and hard to break down – and a pain in the backside for home teams.
Bower wants all that and a bit more asides tomorrow against a Rovers side with big expectations this season.
Adrian Pennock’s outfit took the division by storm in the opening six weeks, amazingly winning their first nine games to blaze a trial at the top.
Their lead may have been curtailed in following a run of just one win in their past six outings, but the Nailsworth-based side still hold a three-point advantage at the summit.
With the likes of vastly-experienced Football League striker Jon Parkin in their ranks, Rovers have threats and nous across the park, with he and fellow striker Aaron O’Connor having hit 11 goals between them this term.
Bower, whose side are pitted in a teak-tough run of games which also sees them visit Wrexham on Tuesday evening, acknowledges the task in hand, but is hopeful that their solid form away from home can continue to serve them well.
And while not too many outside of Guiseley may be expecting too much tomorrow against a side who have spent big, Bower is confident his side will stand up to the test – and is banking on his own experienced players coming to the fore.
Bower said: “Away from home, we have had some good results and have looked solid and defended well and we have worked really hard with and without the ball. While it hasn’t been that pretty all the time, we have been effective.
“We need to do that and take our chances when they come along.”
On tomorrow’s opponents, he added: “They are one of the biggest spenders in the league and the expectation is for them to be challenging at the top and they have a wealth of experience in the side that by rights should be in the Football League.
“But we have got experience in our dressing room as well and apart from Tuesday night, we have matched all the teams we have played so far.
“No-one will be expecting things from us, but I will be expecting us to give a good account of ourselves after Tuesday night and showing a reaction.”
The Lions head south following a sobering 3-0 home loss to Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night, when the hosts were somewhat second best – something Bower was quick to acknowledge.
But after taking the blow squarely on the chin, the Lions chief has moved on and is keen to draw a line under matters.
He added: “They were very good to be fair and you are going to get some games where you are up against some established big clubs at this level.
“Macclesfield just missed out on the play-offs last year and are a very good side. I think it was the first time we have come off the pitch and been well and truly beaten and we had to hold our hands up.
“It was a bad day at the office and we got punished for it.
“But Saturday will be a totally different game to Tuesday and there’s strength in the squad and competition and there’s good options.”
Second-from-bottom FC Halifax, who claimed a morale-boosting 3-1 win at Altrincham in mid-week, go to Woking.
WEST Riding County FA (WRCFA) have issued an apology to Liversedge and Pontefract Collieries after a mix-up saw their cup tie postponed.
The sides were due to meet in the County Cup first round last weekend, but with both teams and spectators at the ground, there were no match officials and the tie was postponed.
A WRCFA statement explained: “Having thoroughly reviewed the incident, the West Riding County FA would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to both clubs and their supporters.
“The issue occurred due to confusion over the date of the fixture, with County Cup matches traditionally taking place midweek. However, due to gaps in both clubs’ league fixture schedules, and with the incentive of a bigger crowd, the two clubs agreed to play the fixture on Saturday.
“Sadly, a break down in communication meant that when the original match officials withdrew from the fixture, a new team were not appointed.”
Andrew Wadsworth, acting CEO of West Riding County FA, added: “We accept that a great deal of responsibility for this incident rests with us and apologise to all involved.
“This is our premier cup competition, with a prestige final at Bradford City’s Coral Windows Stadium.
“We take the competition seriously and are disappointed with the events that resulted in this situation. We will learn from it and procedures will be put in place to ensure that such an incident doesn’t recur.”
Sedge welcome Bridlington in the NCEL Premier tomorrow, with Garforth and Tadcaster travelling to Maltby and Retford. Thackley welcome Clipstone and Albion Sports go to Athersley Rec.
Game of the day in Division One sees Hemsworth, in third, visit Hallam. Selby visit AFC Mansfield and AFC Emley entertain Hull United. Glasshoughton host Bottesford, Knaresborough welcome Eccleshill and Yorkshire Amateur go to Rossington.
In the Evo-Stik Premier, Frickley – who have signed left-back Scott Matthews from Belper – go to Skelmersdale.
In Division One North, Farsley Celtic welcome high-flying Spennymoor and Ossett Town welcome Witton. Ossett Albion visit Prescot and Harrogate Railway head to third-placed Warrington.
SIMON WEAVER has urged his Harrogate Town squad to give the home fans more to cheer and spark life into their FA Cup challenge.
Town embark on the third qualifying round tomorrow with lower league Burscough arriving at the CNG Stadium (3pm).
With £7,500 on offer to the winner, the famous competition is a valuable exercise for Weaver’s men who will be strong favourites to claim a place in the hat for Monday’s final qualifying round draw.
Town welcome Burscough on the back of consecutive 1-0 victories, with winger Brendon Daniels smashing home set-pieces in both games.
But despite being 57 places above the visitors in the football hierarchy, Weaver insisted that he would leave “no stone unturned” in his preparation for facing a side that has risen out of the Evo-Stik First Division North relegation battle thanks to a six-match winning streak. He said: “It’s a big game for us. We really need to concentrate on what it will take to win the game. We have to prove what we are all about and get back to the more fluid performances and dragging the other team about.
“We can’t just turn up and expect to win this. They have got a lot of good young players who will be hoping to use the cup to increase their value.
“You see it so many times in the FA Cup when people lower their standards. We have to make sure we do that job in front of home fans.”
Brfadford Park Avenue visit Salford City.