GUISELEY boss Mark Bower insists the pressure will be thrust upon the shoulders of hosts AFC Fylde in Saturday’s crunch Vanarama North play-off semi-final second leg at Kellamergh Park (3pm).
The Lions head west with a slender 1-0 lead, thanks to Jake Lawlor’s first-half goal in Wednesday’s first leg.
Several fine saves from Steven Drench also ensured Guiseley go to the Coasters in credit.
But while it promises to be another nervy early May afternoon for the Lions faithful in the club’s fifth successive foray in the end-of-season lottery at this level, Bower feels the hosts will be under the microscope more.
Fylde finished 15 points above Guiseley in the regular season and lost just twice at home with their tally of 51 goals in 21 games being the best in the division.
Most in the non-league fraternity will be expecting them to progress according to Bower, but he is hoping to confound those beliefs.
On the clash at Fylde, who hit six in their final home game of the season last weekend but who couldn’t overhaul Barrow to the title, Bower said: “In front of the home fans and finishing second, there will be pressure.
“I think there’s very little expectation on us from anywhere outside our club that we will do anything and people will look at the team in second place as the favourites to go up.
“I am sure they won’t want their season ending a week after they could have won the title.
“Home advantage in games like this probably counts for very little.
“There’s plenty of fans who travel and there will be good support for either side.”
With a vast amount of play-off experience in his ranks with nine of the team who started last year’s semi-final first leg lining up against Fylde in midweek, Bower believes he will have the players to handle the heat tomorrow.
That said, with the tie finely poised, Bower is savvy enough to appreciate that the next goal in the 180-minute tie – or potentially longer – may be a big momentum shifter.
He added: “We have been here more than once before, so the lads have plenty of experience and hopefully that will see us through there.
“But there will probably be a few more twists and turns yet and it is certainly well poised. We look forward to it.
“It is tight. That next goal in the game is going to be big. Obviously, if they get it, it is good for them. But if we get it, we go two in front and it is going to be a difficult one for them. I am sure that they will come out of the blocks and we will have to be smart with our defensive duties and making sure, if we get the opportunity to break, to do so with some quality.”
Guiseley’s lead may be narrow and hardly an iron-clad buffer, but Bower says he would have taken that before kick-off in the first leg at Nethermoor on Wednesday.
He added: “They were ten unbeaten coming into the game, so to win it is good for us.
“I would have taken any sort of win beforehand.”
PAUL LINES is challenging his Nostell MW side to play the underdog card to devastating effect in this evening’s Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup final with big favourites Frickley.
Welfare have dovetailed their ‘great escape’ from the bottom three in the NCEL Premier with a run to this particular cup final for the first time, with the showpiece being held at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium.
Frickley, who have won the competition 12 times, will be appearing in the final for the fourth successive season, having been runners-up last term, losing to Athersley Rec and in 2011-12, when they went down 3-2 to Worksop Town.
Back in 2012-13, they were more successful, lifting the cup 12 after beating Sheffield FC 4-3 in a real spring thriller at Hillsborough.
By contrast it is Nostell’s first final appearance with their route to the showpiece seeing them beat Maltby Main 2-1 in the semi-final, Athersley Recreation in the quarter-final, when they won 3-2 and Joker, who they hammered in the third round, 7-2.
They received a walkover against Everest in the second round.
But despite the Blues being strong favourites and having considerable final experience, Lines and his side certainly aren’t cowed, more so after their outstanding second half of the campaign.
Lines said: “We will give it a good go, no two ways about that and we’ll see what happens, at the end of the day.
“I know a little of bit about Frickley and their manager and have had snippets from one or two other people as well about (Gavin) Allott, their top scorer and there’s one or two of the players I know quite well.
“It’s a big night and on the day, if they get a big squad out, they will be a strong side.
“But we’ll be giving it a go. Any time you lead a side out in a final is fantastic and it’s my first final and I’d like to be in a lot more and win more trophies as well as challenging for league titles.”
Karl Rose is expecting to have nearly a full squad available for Frickley, with the exception of the cup-tied pair of Brad Dockerty and James Kay.
The Blues’ route to the final has seen them eliminate AFC Emley, Stocksbridge Park Steels, Hemsworth MW and Handsworth Parramore.
Kick-off this evening is at 7.30pm.