MAKING a long journey south for a late-season relegation six-pointer of huge importance to Guiseley is nothing new for the Nethermoor outfit.
And it is a case of similar script, different year for the Lions ahead of the first part of their potentially season-defining Easter programme at fellow strugglers Braintree Town this afternoon.
It will not be lost upon Guiseley followers of the similarities with last season’s game at Boreham Wood, with the Nethermoor men having it all to do in their survival quest after a narrow 1-0 loss to a direct relegation rival.
This time around, Guiseley’s situation is slightly less dire, although neither do they have too much room for manoeuvre with Braintree – the side occupying the final relegation spot on the National League ladder – able to close the gap between the pair to a point if they prevail.
It promises to be a compelling afternoon in the battle for safety.
And while North Ferriby and Southport are virtually doomed, another eight clubs remain in danger and have a realistic chance of filling the other two dreaded slots in the bottom four come the end of the season.
One of those are the 17th-placed Lions with just six points separating Sutton, in 15th, and third-from-bottom Torquay United in a survival race which is likely to go down to the wire on April 29.
Guiseley’s need for points is heightened by the arrival of second-placed Tranmere Rovers to Nethermoor on Monday, with the stakes being high today for Adam Lockwood’s troops.
Lockwood, who will be without striker Jake Cassidy following his controversial dismissal at home to Forest Green in last weekend’s narrow 1-0 defeat, said: “They are all ‘big games’ and last Saturday was no different.
“We didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve then, but we will go again and prepare right, and look to get as many points as possible.
“It is going to be tough to get those points, we know that, so we have to leave no stone unturned and keep chipping away.”
Should Guiseley secure a precious result today for their hardy band of supporters who will be cheering them on in Essex, then Lockwood would be the first to acknowledge their unstinting efforts.
Their backing in a losing cause in last weekend’s tough – if controversial – home loss to Forest Green was something that was not lost upon Lockwood.
For seemingly the umpteenth time this season, fates were not kind to Guiseley, who found themselves on the end of another harsh call when Cassidy was dismissed.
But the support remained constant from the Lions’ faithful following, with Lockwood intent on paying back the ‘outstanding’ levels of backing by finishing off the club’s ‘Great Escape’.
Lockwood added: “The lads appreciate it because, at times like this, when you’re up against it and things aren’t right, that’s when you unite.”
FC Halifax Town boss Billy Heath believes back-to-back wins over Easter will put his side in with a shout of clinching the National League North title.
Halifax are at home to leaders Fylde today before a trip to Harrogate Town on Easter Monday, and could close the gap to first place to one point depending on other results.
Heath said: “There’s pressure on everybody now. Fylde haven’t been in the form they’ve shown for most of the season in the last month. That’s down to a lot of things, pressure is one of them. We’ve got to win the game to have any chance of the title but our first priority is finishing as high as we can. We’ve got to make sure we win those games to cement our position in the play-offs.”
In action tomorrow, 11th-placed Harrogate Town travel to Nuneaton Town and Bradford Park Avenue host Tamworth.
First Division North leaders Farsley Celtic will be looking to end an excellent week on a high when they make the long trip to Colwyn Bay tomorrow.
Following on from their 4-0 victory over Radcliffe Borough in the league on Saturday, Celtic lifted the West Riding County Cup on Tuesday night after seeing off Tadcaster Albion 4-2 on penalties after the tie had finished 1-1 after extra-time.
And as the Farsley players celebrated they received news that title challengers Lancaster City had lost their game in hand, 2-0 at Prescot Cables.
That result means that Celtic will be crowned champions if they win their remaining three games, regardless of what rivals Lancaster achieve.
City also face a difficult trip, to mid-table Droylsden tomorrow.
Elsewhere in the First Division North tomorrow, fifth-placed Ossett Town entertain Prescott Cables, ninth-placed Brighouse Town travel to Radcliffe Borough and Tadcaster Albion host Hyde United.
Struggling Ossett Albion travel to Clitheroe.
In the Premier Division, Frickley Athletic have a must-win clash at fourth-placed Stourbridge.
The Blues are currently four points from safety with just three matches to play but they have only picked up four victories on their travels this season.
Second-placed Pickering Town will hope to close the gap on Premier Division leaders Cleethorpes Town when they head to struggling Harrogate Railway Athletic this afternoon.
Railway have been thrashed 10-1 and 5-1 in their last two matches so Paul Marshall’s men will be looking to build on their excellent 4-0 defeat of Rainworth Miners Welfare in midweek and cut down the five-point gap to Cleethorpes.
Also in action today, 14th placed Garforth Town host Staveley Miners Welfare, while it’s Derby day at Knaresborough Town in Division One as Pontefract Collieries are the visitors.
Meanwhile, in the Premier Division tomorrow, 10th-placed Hemsworth Miners Welfare travel to Armthorpe Welfare and 12th-placed Liversedge host Bottesford Town.
In Division One tomorrow, leaders AFC Emley will be going all out for a home victory over Glasshoughton Welfare in their final game of the season to put pressure on nearest rivals Hall Road Rangers and Pontefract Collieries.
The Hull-based team are currently two points behind Emley but have two games left to play, starting with a trip to Rossington Main tomorrow.
Pontefract are a point further back in third place, also with two games left to play, starting with a trip to Knaresborough Town today.
Elsewhere, in Division One tomorrow 11th-placed Selby Town host Penistone Church, 13th-placed Yorkshire Amateur travel to Brigg Town and rock-bottom Nostell Miners Welfare host Westella and Willerby.