ON THE evidence of his staggering feats of the past two matches, a little bit of tender loving care is reaping a harvest for Guiseley cup hero Jonny Maxted.
One of several Lions players to already take the plunge and decide to go full-time as part of Paul Cox’s brave new world, Maxted’s inspired performance at Accrington’s Crown Ground on Tuesday evening helped provide an early vindication for his decision.
As did his similarly sensational display in Saturday’s National League encounter with Bromley.
Fresh from saving two spot-kicks in regulation time in that narrow weekend league loss, Maxted doubled up by making two key saves in a tumultuous penalty shoot-out success in the Lions’ heroic and history-making FA Cup first-round replay triumph at League Two high-fliers Stanley – although that did not tell the whole story. Simply magnificent on the night, the 24-year-old, nephew of Guiseley’s 1991 FA Vase-winning goalkeeper Paul Maxted, made several other fantastic saves to ensure the game somehow ended all-square after extra-time.
On an unforgettable evening when Guiseley’s indomitable spirit and mental strength came to the fore after playing for over 75 minutes with ten men following the dismissal of defender Chris M’Boungou, no-one stood taller than Maxted.
And as far as manager Paul Cox is concerned, it is certainly no coincidence, given his recent career decision.
“Going full-time has really helped Jonny. He is like a man possessed in training now,” said Cox, whose side’s heroics earned him a sentimental second-round trip to former club Mansfield Town.
“It is amazing how he has developed in a short space of time. But it is no fluke because of the way he works, his application and his desire to become better. I had a one-on-one with him after training on Monday. You see his desire to become better and to train hard, his desire to work above and beyond what his role is.
“He is a very good goalkeeper that probably mentally wanted an arm round his shoulder. He needed reminding how good he is.”
Cox added: “I do not think you have to coach natural footballers like that. It is just sometimes for a manager to show a bit of belief.
“The best goalkeepers in the world are the ones that psychologically think they are unbeatable. He is developing that through his hard work.”
Guiseley have been afforded some joyous occasions in a remarkable past decade, but in terms of FA Cup glory, Tuesday night’s events surpassed the lot as the club memorably reached the second round of the competition for the first time in their history – at the seventh time of asking.
It was an evening which no-one connected with the club will forget in a hurry, with the scenes at the final whistle after Mike Fondop scored the fateful penalty to seal a 4-3 shoot-out success being something to behold.
Expressing delight for chief backer Steve Parkin, whose ambition helped persuade Cox to join Guiseley back in September despite rival interest from elsewhere and the club’s hierarchy, Cox added: “Steve came on the pitch and the smile on his face told me a multitude of things.
“It did not really matter to me if we won the penalties because we would have won the night anyway.
“I am over the moon for Steve, John (Gill – director) and James (Ferguson – chairman) because they are 100 per cent behind this club.
“They have always been progressive and what would have pleased them as much were the numbers that followed us.
“If we carry on the way we are going, it is going to be beneficial to us all.”
As for his own celebrations and sense of pride, Cox beamed: “I went home and had a nice glass of wine.
“It did not matter how late, it calmed the wife’s nerves because she would have been following it on Twitter!”