Non-League Football: Lions facing biggest test of season so far says Bower

Mark Bower
Mark Bower
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GUISELEY may have faced a quintet of former league sides already this term, but Mark Bower has labelled tomorrow’s opponents Woking as their biggest seasonal examination yet.

The Lions head into the Nethermoor clash on the back of a five-match winless streak in their maiden foray in the National League, but Bower is still steadfastly accentuating the positives after successive away draws at Torquay United and Chester.

Guiseley, in 17th spot in the table, have also tackled one-time Football League teams inBarrow, Kidderminster, Aldershot and Gateshead in the first month of the campaign, but tomorrow’s third-placed visitors top them all so far in the view of Bower.

The Nethermoor chief said: “Since Woking were promoted back to the Conference Premier a few years ago, they have had top-half finishes in every season.

“They are sat in third place now and it will probably be our biggest test of the season. They are probably the best side we have come up against so far.

“We have got to make sure we are ‘at it’ from the off.

“We have made silly mistakes to give goals away in our last few home games and must make sure we cut those out of our goal.

“We must make sure we are also a little bit more clinical as there’s not a lot else wrong. We need to finish teams off when we can.

“Things are not quite going for us in front of goal.

“But we are defending well when we have to and I can’t ask any more from the lads in terms of work ethic and effort.”

Despite Guiseley’s modest recent points return, Bower is confident that if performances and hard work mean anything, a win is not too far – round the corner – especially if they sharpen up at the business end.

A little of luck would also not go amiss either, more especially from officials, even accounting for their penalty award in Plainmoor last weekend, a rare touch of fortune this term.

But the two recent away draws have at least given Bower something to take solace from, although he is anxious for his side not to assume the reputation of draw specialists. He added: “We have had three draws out of our last five games and need to start turning the draws into wins.

“We just need that little bit of luck and something to drop for us in front of goal. Once it does, hopefully it will be a springboard for us.”

After successive home defeats, a win on home soil would also be timely, according to Bower, mindful of the importance of keeping their home fires burning at Nethermoor, a fortress for the vast majority of his tenure so far.

Bower added: “We started off with two really good wins at home and it’s important we win home games, it keeps home fans happy and breeds confidence for the lads. There was intense disappointment that we didn’t take three points at Chester and Torquay. It’s important we get that win to give the boys belief we can have some relative success this season as we certainly aren’t a million miles away.”

Second-from-bottom FC Halifax welcome Kidderminster.

In Conference North, third-placed Harrogate Town go to rock-bottom Telford and third-from-bottom Bradford Park Avenue welcome leaders Solihull Moors.

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REPORTS of FRICKLEY Athletic’s demise at the start of the season were exaggerated somewhat.

The Blues may have propped up the Evo-Stik Premier table after two matches of the campaign – and with optimism not exactly high after the departure of a quartet of leading players in the close-season – but what has happened since has been a pleasant surprise.

Frickley head into tomorrow’s FA Cup first qualifying round clash at Maltby Main on a six-match unbeaten run, with Karl Rose’s side having won three of their last four matches.

And for Rose, it’s a case of long may it continue.

He said: “A lot of people will have seen four big-hitters go in Ben Simpson, Matt Bloor, Gav Allott and then Reece Thompson.

“They would have said that we will lack goals with our captain and keeper gone also.

“It affected every part of our team. But with losing those players, it has allowed me to bring new ones in and they have taken responsibility wider really and everyone has chipped in.

“We have had a lot of different goalscorers this season and last season, it was either Reece or Gav.

“Looking at this season, everyone is contributing and Zeph Thomas got a hat-trick this week, which was pleasing and you can’t say we are relying on one player.

“It is pleasing. But on the other side of the coin, before we were on a good run, we were on a bad one and were at the bottom of the league.

“So, things can change and we need to enjoy things while we can and not take anything for granted.”

The Blues certainly won’t be doing that at Maltby tomorrow, despite being overwhelming favourites.

Rose added: “We aren’t treating them lightly and know they will be up for it.

“We must compete with their fight levels and then hope we have a bit more quality and can match the effort and endeavour.

“It also is a chance for us to put some money in the pot, which is always needed at Frickley.”

Elsewhere in the cup, Farsley visit Witton and Ossett Albion head to Droylsden. Goole AFC welcome Bamber Bridge.

In the First Division North, Ossett Town and Harrogate Railway visit Radcliffe and Trafford respectively.

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BILLY MILLER returns to Liversedge with his Tadcaster Albion side tomorrow – seeking repairs following a dual bump in the road in the Brewers’ NCEL Premier title quest.

Taddy head to Clayborn having dropped four points in three days to check their promotion aspirations.

Albion were held to a surprise 2-2 draw at Armthorpe Welfare on Tuesday night.

Three days earlier, striker Josh Greening rescued an injury-time point with a long-ranger in another 2-2 draw, at fellow high-fliers Clipstone.

Albion remain on top of the table after eight games, but have handed the initiative to Worksop Town who have a game in hand.

Sedge, where Miller spent three years as boss have started the league season promisingly and sit seventh on 11 points from their first six matches.

Elsewhere tomorrow, Garforth and Pontefract Colls head to Cleethorpes and Rainworth respectively.

Albion Sports host Bridlington and Nostell entertain Handsworth Parramore.

A Division One derby sees Knaresborough welcome Hemsworth.

Selby and Glasshoughton host Hull United and Lincoln Moorlands respectively.

Yorkshire Amateur visit Shirebrook and AFC Emley head to Teversal.

In the FA Cup, Thackley host Abbey Hey.

Guiseley manager Paul Cox.

Defeat at Ebbsfleet leaves Guiseley seven points from safety