Have boots, will travel may be the motto for Guiseley these days, but Mark Bower isn’t complaining.
The Lions are partway through an incredible EIGHT-match away odyssey in all competitions and you have to go back to mid-December for their last Nethermoor appointment and even further to November 28 for their last home league games.
That sort of run could impinge seriously on a side’s seasonal fortunes, but Bower’s troops are showing admirable character and head into tomorrow’s National League game at Lincoln City boasting a three-game unbeaten record so far in 2016, with all the games being on their travels.
After visiting the Red Imps, Guiseley’s itinerary takes them to Woking and Dover before a rare home game against Grimsby Town on February 16 as the Lions start to fit in some Nethermoor fixtures that were postponed at the tail end of last year.
And Bower is urging his side to carry on from where they left off in last weekend’s 1-0 win at Kidderminster, thanks to Liam Dickinson’s strike, which had followed a 2-1 FA Trophy success at Dulwich Hamlet.
Bower said: “The Kidderminster win probably should have been a little bit more convincing that what it was. But we had a perfectly good goal disallowed early on, which sort of set the tone a bit.
“But it was all about getting three points and with so many away games coming up as well, winning back-to-back away games has given the lads that bit of confidence.
“On the back of a very good point away at Grimsby too, it gives confidence getting into this run of games.”
On mid-table Lincoln, he added: “It will be difficult going to a big club at this level and a Football League club by rights.
“They have not been on the greatest of runs at the minute and there’s a bit of pressure on them to come out and put on a performance.
“I am sure their supporters will be expecting a victory, with Guiseley pulling up into town. We have got to upset that. We know how they like to play and the strengths they have got. But equally, we will try and take the game to them as well and it would be nice to carry on this little run we have.”
As it stands, Guiseley are in 18th spot, three places and six points above the drop zone and set fair for securing their National League place for next term.
Grounded Bower won’t be getting complacent, but equally he sees no harm in broadening his seasonal horizons either.
He added: “Everyone is still capable of going on a run, we have seen that with Halifax and Southport and we won’t count our chickens.
“But we have picked up four points in our last two games, so why can’t we be that team who can go on a run?
“We are okay with where we are at the minute, but we’d like to kick on a little bit and pull back a few above us and that’s the next goal – to reel a few in.”
Bower’s well-being is helped by the sight of a squad which is in as healthier state than it was in the autumn and for the Lions chief, it is a case of long may it continue – with one eye on improving it further if the right player comes along.
Bower said: “We have a pretty strong squad at the minute with the likes of Rob Atkinson and Ben Parker back in and Anthony Dudley coming back and we are probably looking as strong as at any point this season.
“If that one player becomes available that might make a difference, we would look at that. But we aren’t too bad at the minute.”
FC Halifax, out of the drop zone, face a big clash at home to fellow strugglers Welling today.
Harrogate Town visit FC United in National North.
Frickley Athletic could climb into the top 10 of the Premier Division when they travel to Salford City tomorrow.
Athletic were handed a boost on Monday when they re-signed midfielder Jack Wakefield, who has spent the last 18 months on the sidelines due to an injury. They followed up by putting together a convincing 2-0 win over Ilkeston on the road, a victory that moved them to within a point of their opposition.
Ossett Albion could move up to third in the First Division North when they travel to Droylsden. Albion missed out on a friendly match against Nostell Miners Welfare earlier in the week due to a postponement caused by the weather.
Farsley Celtic know that a victory in their game against Northwich Victoria could put them within a point of the play-off places.
However, the trip could prove a tough task for Celtic. Northwich are currently second in the table, 14 points ahead of Glossop North End, and are the only side genuinely capable of challenging Warrington Town for the crown.
It’s no easier for Harrogate Railway Athletic – in 21st position on the league ladder – who host sixth-placed Burscough.
Ossett Town, in 20th, will be hoping that Railway cannot upset league form, especially as they have a winnable match against Clitheroe on the cards that could allow them to open up the gap to the relegation zone to five points.
Tadcaster Albion’s flooding nightmare might finally be over, but they will be on neutral ground when they face Worksop in a promotion six-pointer tomorrow.
A league inspector earlier this week gave Tadcaster the good news that the i2i Stadium’s pitch is once again ready for football.
However, an issue with the floodlights means they are not able to host games at 3pm, and as a result their game against Worksop tomorrow will now take place at Selby Town.
Taddy asked their opponents whether they would be able to hold the tie at 2pm in order to be able to make a much-welcomed homecoming, but work commitments meant the visitors had to stick by the traditional kick-off time.
The match against Worksop follows two impressive 3-1 victories away from home against Brigg Town and Parkgate, the first in the league and the second in the League Cup.
Victory tomorrow would allow Tadcaster to close the gap to first-place Worksop to two points, which would be impressive as they hold three games in-hand on them after their repeated postponements.
Elsewhere, Nostell Miners Welfare are on the road when they take on Thackley. A result for Nostell would bely the league table, but they may need to get wins on the board to truly pull away from the relegation places, having played seven more games than basement side Liversedge.
Liversedge themselves are also on the road as they travel to Parkgate. The 22nd-placed side will be aiming for their first away win of the season.
Pontefract Collieries are also in action in the Premier Division. They visit Handsworth Parramore having taken on Maltby Main in mid-week. Garforth Town host Retford United tomorrow in a mid-table match-up.
In Division One, karma has not been as kind to Selby as they might have hoped after they granted Tadcaster use of their stadium this weekend – they are on the road against league leaders Hemsworth MW. They will also be at a slight fitness disadvantage, having faced Penistone Church on Wednesday night.
The second tier of the NCE league also sees Glasshoughton Welfare travel to face Hall Road Rangers, while Westella VIP host Shirebrook Town.