Guiseley AFC still scent survival in spite of FA Trophy exit

Will Hatfield
Will Hatfield
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Mark Bower believes Saturday’s clash against Altrincham is a more “important” tie for his Guiseley side than the ultimately disappointing FA Trophy match earlier this week.

Mark Bower believes Saturday’s clash against Altrincham is a more “important” tie for his Guiseley side than the ultimately disappointing FA Trophy match earlier this week.

The Lions exited the Trophy after losing in the home replay against Dover Athletic.

Bower saw midfielder Will Hatfield dismissed shortly after his side went behind. It summed up a poor first-half display, and the hosts also struggled in the second period, conceding two more to fall to a 3-0 loss.

However, Bower has highlighted National League survival as his club’s “priority”, which explains his stressing of the significance of the Altrincham tie.

The Robins are 19th in the league, four points behind Guiseley. A victory would open up the gap to seven points, which would put Guiseley in a strong position going into the latter stages of the season.

“It’s the most important game out of the two, because staying in the league is the priority,” Bower revealed.

“We were poor against Dover; it was a poor performance from us. We started the game really poorly and against a very good side, if you don’t perform, you will be in trouble.

“It’s very important to bounce back, especially when it’s a big league game against one of the teams that are close to us in the table.

“I’m sure the lads will respond and put in a good performance on Saturday.”

It is not just the gap to Altrincham that Bower is keen to extend.

Guiseley are currently seven points clear of the relegation zone after some good form in the league; victory could bring safety even closer.

He continued: “We have a little bit of momentum in the league – we have won two of our last three league games.

“We don’t want teams in and around us beating us. If we can get a result at Altrincham, it maintains that gap.

“The target is and the hope is that we can increase the gap between us and the bottom four, and that starts on Saturday at Altrincham.”

Guiseley’s position is even more impressive when a recent run of away fixtures are factored in.

Altrincham will be the seventh and last trip the Lions have had to make in a row in the National League.

With four home games coming up on the bounce, Bower has reason to be even more positive, but is refusing to count his chickens.

“If you look at the records of every team in the league, the home record will be better than the away record,” Bower suggested. “You are always more likely to pick up the points there. Having some home games will certainly help, but we will have to play better than we did against Dover.”

Hatfield is an enforced absentee after his red card against Dover and will also miss the matches against Forest Green and Braintree Town.

Bower stressed that this just opened up the door to someone else: “Unfortunately we have to do without him for three games, which is a big blow, but it’s an opportunity for someone else to come in.

“At points this season players have come in and staked their claim and stayed in the side, someone else has got to do that now.”

Elsewhere, Halifax Town face Grimsby Town at the Shay, while the National League North sees second-placed Harrogate Town host FC United of Manchester.

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Tadcaster Albion have an opportunity to climb back on top of the Premier Division when they take on Rainsworth Miners Welfare on Saturday.

The Brewers fell away from the summit of the Northern Counties East Football League after devastating flooding meant the i2i Stadium could not host matches for a period of over two months.

Postponements elsewhere meant Taddy had a raft of fixtures to make up, but a run of five straight wins in the league and six in all competitions have left Albion on equal points with first-placed Worksop Town going into this weekend’s games.

Worksop were one of the teams to fall before Tadcaster in their stunning run, but the Brewers are reliant upon Maltby Main taking points from the leaders if they want to climb to the top of the pile. Worksop currently have 10 more goals to their name in terms of goal difference.

However, Tadcaster do still hold three games in hand on Worksop.

Elsewhere in the division, Pontefract Collieries could climb up a position from 18th with a victory on the road against Barton Town Old Boys, who are 10th. Collieries have played three games fewer than Parkgate in 17th.

Nostell Miners Welfare sit a place below Pontefract in 19th, but could overhaul them if Pontefract fail to win and Nostell pick up a victory when they host Staveley Miners Welfare. Staveley could prove tough opposition, as they are currently in eighth in the top flight.

Basement side Liversedge have an opportunity to catch up some ground on opponents Armthorpe Welfare, with the visitors currently seven points above the hosts in the league table. Liversedge will have to start picking up victories soon to avoid relegation come the end of the campaign, although they have played fewer games than every other team in the division barring Thackley.

Garforth Town travel to Albion Sports.

Division One sees one of the biggest games of the weekend as leaders Hemsworth Miners Welfare visit second-placed side AFC Mansfield, although Hemsworth are eight points clear of their nearest challengers.

Selby Town take on Glasshoughton Welfare, while Westella VIP are on the road, visiting fifth-placed AFC Emley.

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Harrogate Railway Athletic manager Lee Ashforth has called on his players to push themselves ahead of Saturday’s game against Bamber Bridge.

Railway go into that tie in 21st place, knowing a victory could allow them to leapfrog Ossett Town and lift themselves out the relegation zone. However, they suffered a demoralising defeat on promotion chasers Spennymoor Town on Monday night, a 4-0 defeat punctuated by two goalkeeping errors from Tom Goodwin.

After referring to games against teams like Spennymoor as “free hits”, Ashforth said he thought he had noticed an improvement in his side recently.

“The players have to lift themselves up again now,” said Ashforth.

“We are no worse off than we were and we’ve played one of the top teams.

“I think we have come a long way in the last two or three weeks.”

Elsewhere in the First Division North, Ossett Town will be looking to increase the gap between themselves and Railway when they visit Burscough.

Farsley Celtic, 11th, travel to Witton Albion, who are two points and a place behind them in the table. Ossett Albion could climb up to fourth in the league with a win against Scarborough Athletic – managed by former Ossett Town boss Steve Kittrick – at home.

In the Premier Division, Frickley Athletic take on Skelmersdale United.

Adam Crookes.

Guiseley sign up Crookes and Roberts on loan for Christmas period