GUISELEY may be busy cultivating a status as the National League’s draw specialists, but for Mark Bower, the glass is very much half-full.
The Lions head south to in-form Braintree Town tomorrow, having drawn five of their last six matches and last four away from home – with the Nethermoor outfit positioned in 16th place in the table.
But for Bower, the fact that his side are unbeaten in six outings – since going down 2-0 to Gateshead at home at the end of August – is something he is rather more inclined to point to with his side making a fair fist of life at this level.
And while on the road, Guiseley are still without a win, the Lions chief again is accentuating the positives, with his side having seen their colours lowered just once on their travels and having not lost in four.
It’s clearly all a question of interpretation.
Bower, whose side were pegged back late on in Tuesday’s 1-1 home draw with Southport by a Louis Almond strike after a Liam Dickinson free-kick had put them ahead, said: “I have been pleased with the majority of performances and we are on a little unbeaten run.
“For me, we have got ourselves in a decent position in the league and are capable of kicking on and getting results with the five draws we have had in the last six games.
“While we haven’t won yet away, we have been to some difficult places and got results and the one game where we did lose away at Welling on the first day of the season, we would have probably won the game if it wasn’t for the referee.
“We are doing okay away from home and if we keep doing what we are, we can press on our advantage at home.”
Bower handed a debut to loanee George Maris in midweek, with Gavin Rothery also back in contention for tomorrow’s trip to Cressing Road.
Braintree – currently occupying the final play-off spot – are certainly running hot following an unbeaten five-match run of their own and head into tomorrow’s game following back-to-back wins over Woking and Altrincham.
Bower added: “It’s a difficult game and they are on a really good run at the moment and are fifth in the league.
“This league has some really difficult opposition and Braintree will be no different. They are a strong, physical unit and they have been at this level for a couple of years.
“They went to Altrincham last week and won comfortably 4-0.”
Given a run of four matches in a fortnight and with a decent squad at his disposal, Bower has hinted at changes tomorrow.
He added: “It is another long trip away from home and we have played a lot of games recently, but we have brought a player in this week and Gavin Rothery is back in contention as well. So, a few changes may be the best way to go about it.
“I am not a particular fan of rotation. But that said, we have a group of players of a very similar level of quality and they are all pushing each other and there’s more competition for places.
“Last season, we didn’t have the strength in depth and the team sort of picked itself.
“But this year, there’s real competition for places and you can see that with the squad we have on the bench.
“There’s some nice headaches to have and it bodes well.”
HARROGATE TOWN boss Simon Weaver is calling on his side to get back to their ruthless best in tomorrow’s FA Cup second qualifying round trip to Workington.
Town shipped three goals for the second successive Vanarama North game in a row in Satirday’s 3-0 loss to fellow high-fliers Nuneaton Town – with Weaver critical of his side’s professionalism.
Unbeaten in six games, the Cumbrian outfit present a potential sticky proposition for Town, after their strong start to the Evo-Stik Premier League campaign.
Club captain Dave McGurk is suspended for the trip,.
But Weaver remains hopeful that former Guiseley defender Danny Ellis will be fit to replace him at the back.
York City loanee Tom Platt is ineligible, so veteran Paul Thirwell could return in the engine room.
Weaver said: “We have had a good start to the season, but nothing has been won yet.
“It’s making sure we are switched on at all times.
“I think that comes as a result of a few thinking they have made it before they actually have.
“We have to make sure that mindset returns to where it was for the Telford game where we were absolutely ruthless and professional.
“Up until the Nuneaton game, there was nothing wrong with the defensive side. It’s a collective responsibility and we have to make sure people are nailing their jobs.
“People have to start taking responsibility, dictating to others and doing their own job because it’s a couple of games now where we haven’t.”
Karl Rose’s Frickley Athletic, who have won four of their last five matches, are also in cup action tomorrow.
The Blues head across the Pennines to face Chorley at Victory Park.
Bradford Park Avenue face a banana-skin tie at Consett.
In the Conference, managerless FC Halifax Town, under the command of interim boss Gareth McClelland, make the long journey south to face Welling.
Action in the First Division North sees Ossett Albion play host to Harrogate Railway Athletic.
Ossett Town are also in home action against Mossley, seeking to hit back after a 3-0 midweek loss to Farsley Celtic.
Neil Parsley’s Celtic, buoyed by that fillip, head to Prescot Cables.
NOSTELL MW are seeking to avoid a far from lucky seven in tomorrow’s NCEL Premier clash at home to fellow strugglers Athersley Rec, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.
Paul Lines’ side, who delivered a stunning second half of last season, have hit the buffers by virtue of six consecutive losses, heading into this weekend’s action.
A litany of injuries has compounded the situation, with their latest reverse coming in a 2-0 loss at Garforth Town on Tuesday night, when only the heroics of Ed Hall saved them from a heavy beating at the hands of the Miners.
Garforth, in seventh spot, face a toughie at in-form Handsworth Parramore, while leaders Tadcaster Albion, two points clear, head to sixth-placed Barton Town Old Boys.
Billy Miller’s side are unbeaten in nine league matches.
Pontefract Colls, who claimed a relieving 2-1 win over Liversedge at Beechnut Lane on Wednesday, go to Paul Marshall’s Pickering, while Sedge host rock-bottom Brigg Town.
Lowly Thackley go to Maltby Main.
Action in Division One sees Hemsworth head to Shirebrook, while AFC Emley, 5-0 victors on Wednesday, entertain Winterton.
Selby make the trip to Eccleshill, with Glasshoughton having a home date with Penistone Church.
Yorkshire Amateur travel to Hallam, with Knaresborough at home to Hull United.