Guiseley suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat at one of the National League’s promotion favourites, Tranmere Rovers, on Saturday.
After putting up a strong show for the first hour at Prenton Park, they fell away in the final third of the game, conceding four goals without reply.
Guiseley boss Paul Cox reflected on the loss, saying: “The first-half was a performance I was pleased with but the game changed on 60 minutes.
“The goals we conceded were a bit sloppy, but having two games in three days meant changes were made to ensure we could look at the bigger picture for the game on Monday [against Chester].”
The Lions confirmed the signing of Jake Sheppard just before kick-off with the Reading loanee starting at right-back.
The hosts thought they had made an early breakthrough, with Andy Cook converting a tap-in – but it was correctly ruled out for offside, before Adam Buxton saw his cross deflected onto Guiseley’s crossbar, then cleared by the visitors.
Guiseley had chances of their own with Rowan Liburd having a header well-saved by Rovers keeper Scott Davies, then a ball over the top found James Roberts but Davies was just able to nick it past him and then clear before Liburd could convert the clearance.
A fantastic cross just before half-time by James Norwood fizzed past several Rovers attackers and went out of play.
Rovers striker Norwood would get an even better chance when he went through one-on-one with Jonny Maxted, his effort beat the keeper but went just wide.
But the frontman would not be denied again and fired an effort in from just outside the area to give Tranmere the lead.
Moments later it was 2-0 with Connor Jennings being fed through, staying onside showing a good first touch and firing an effort into the bottom left-hand corner of Maxted’s net.
They would make it three with Jennings getting in front of his man to grab his second, with the hosts now dominating.
The fourth was scored by Cook who was found in the area and fired home.
Guiseley now turn their attention to a crucial home game against Chester on New Year’s Day.
The third-bottom Lions are level on points with the visitors, but both sides are eight adrift of Barrow, with Chester having a slightly better goal difference than their rivals.
FC Halifax Town ended 2017 with a creditable 0-0 draw at high-flying Dover.
Danny Clarke was sent-off late on for Halifax, who faced their second arduous away trip in five days after playing league leaders Macclesfield on Boxing Day, and produced another disciplined, resolute display.
Both sides were quickly mired in lofting high balls forward that were too easily dealt with by the opposing defence in a dire first-half.
It took until 10 minutes before the interval for the first bit of goalmouth action, when Sam Johnson produced a fine double save to deny Mitch Brundle from long range and then keep out Ryan Bird’s follow-up.
Halifax looked far more of a threat when they kept it on the ground, with Josh Macdonald dangerous down the right. The winger was denied a penalty just before half-time when he was challenged by Femi Ilesanmi, much to Billy Heath’s frustration.
Tom Denton’s header from Macdonald’s cross finally brought keeper Mitch Walker into action after an hour as the contest gradually started to open up.
Bird drilled a shot wide on the edge of the box midway through the second-half, but Town still stood firm, putting in the hard yards and remaining resilient.
Halifax tired towards the end, sitting deeper and deeper to protect the point – even more so when Clarke was dismissed for a second booking – but it never came under serious threat from an out-of-sorts Dover side.
The mid-table Shaymen host leaders Macclesfield Town whose 1-0 win over Sutton United on Saturday took them six points clear of the chasing pack.
There were no games in National North on Saturday, but North Ferriby United boss Chris Bolder takes his side to York City today knowing the Villagers need a miracle to avoid relegation. Ferriby go into 2018 rooted to the bottom of the table. They are 18 points from safety with 19 games left.
Their latest defeat came in a 4-1 loss to York on Boxing Day.
Bolder said: “The frailties we’ve shown in the few games I’ve been in charge with the goals we’re conceding are a recurring theme and it is something we need to put right and put right quickly.”
Elsewhere, second-placed Harrogate Town host Darlington, while Bradford Park Avenue, in sixth travel to mid-table Curzon Ashton.
Farsley made it three games unbeaten with a hard-fought 1-1 draw away to Rushall Olympic.
Daniel Waldren scored early on to give Rushall the lead, before a late error by the Pics’ goalkeeper Jahquil Hill allowed Danny Ellis to score the crucial equaliser.
Farsley came close twice early on, with Isaac Baldwin finding Dan Cockerline who had his shot fumbled behind for a corner by Hill. From the resulting corner Ellis had a shot deflected and Hill produced a stunning finger-tip save to deny the Farsley captain.
However, it was Rushall Olympic who found the breakthrough, with Daniel Waldren latching on to a loose ball and curling just inside the upright from 30-yards out.
The visitors came racing out of the blocks after the restart, with Ellis heading Paul Walker’s cross just over, and Isaac Baldwin had a shot saved superbly by Hill.
With just minutes remaining Farsley came agonisingly close once more as Ryan Watson flicked the ball on to Ellis who let fly with a screaming volley from the edge of the box, and Hill somehow made a wonderful save.
And it just did not look like being Farsley’s day.
But, in the final minute of normal time, unfortunate keeper Hill undid his good work as he failed to hold onto a long, hopeful ball from Kurt Harris, the ball falling kindly to Ellis who tapped home to finally get the better of the Rushall shot-stopper, with both sides forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere, Ossett Albion are now four games unbeaten as they defeated fellow strugglers Atherton Collieries 3-1.
Tommy Wood had given Albion the first-half lead before Gareth Peet equalised for Atherton with 20 minutes remaining.
However, Scott Metcalfe and Tommy Wood added further goals to secure the three points.
Ossett Town slipped to a 2-1 defeat away to promotion chasing Droylsden. Liam Caddick gave Droylsden the lead before Jason Yates levelled before the break.
Yates then received a second yellow card after the break, and with five minutes remaining the Bloods’ Daniel Ventre converted a penalty to seal the win.