AFTER a series of slips against lower league opposition in cup competitions, Mark Bower is keen for his Guiseley side to avoid a cup upset against Burscough tomorrow.
Bower has been with the Lions since 2011, first as a player and now as a manager, and in that time Guiseley have suffered upsets against both Northern League side Ashington in the FA Cup and Evo-Stik club Skelmersdale United in the FA Trophy.
The former Bradford City full-back has understandably been preparing his side to ensure they do not suffer a similar fate.
Burscough have been in exceptional recent form themselves, not losing in any competition since October 10, when they were beaten 3-0 by Harrogate Town. They have also won seven games in a row.
“We know it’s not going to be easy,” said Bower. “I’ve been at Guiseley for four or five years. In that time, we have lost to Ashington in the FA Cup, Skelmersdale in the FA Trophy, teams several leagues below us. Last year we struggled to get past Droylsden in the cup and were taken to a replay by Rushall Olympic in the trophy.
“Burscombe are on a terrific run in which they’ve lost only once in 17. They have also won 11 of the last 12 games. With a record like that, you must have some good players.
“Away from home always makes it more difficult, and they will be playing with no pressure on. The pressure is all on us, and it’s down to us to deal with that and make sure we aren’t the team that is beaten by a lower league side this weekend.”
Bower has a plan to get Guiseley into the second round. There was absolutely no suggestion that he would name a weakened side, and he wants his players to dominate from the off in order to grab the prize that is potentially on offer.
He said: “It’s important to start the game well, get on the front foot. If we can do that, it will certainly help us. We will treat it as seriously as any other game we play this season.
“There is a big prize on offer, getting to Wembley in this competition. We saw last year, North Ferriby United did it. There is no reason why a team of our standing can’t look to emulate something like that.
“To get there, you have to get over all of the hurdles, and this is the first one to get over if we want to get through.
“There won’t be too many changes. We will certainly be going in there to win the game, and we should have enough quality to do that.”
Guiseley will be without long-term injury lay-offs Rob Atkinson, Ollie Johnson and Ben Parker, a group that has been added to by James Hurst, who suffered a thigh pull last week. However, Bower will be able to call on Bury loanee Anthony Dudley, who is in a rich vein of goalscoring form. The manager praised Dudley, saying: “He’s done very well for us.
“Five goals in seven games in the National League is a very good return.
“He could have had a couple more as well. He’s a clever player, he gets himself in good positions to score goals.
“He has certainly been a big plus for us, and the goals that he has scored have made a difference in games.”
Elsewhere, Jim Harvey has warned his FC Halifax Town players that today’s FA Trophy tie against Tamworth could prove a difficult match.
Harvey is undefeated since being appointed caretaker manager, beating Gateshead and Dover before drawing against Guiseley last weekend.
He said: “On paper, I think it is a tough game. Tamworth have a lot of experienced players in there.”
Stocksbridge Park Steels, who knocked out holders North Ferriby United, travel to Gateshead. After a late victory against Buxton this week, Bradford Park Avenue are also in FA Trophy action, hosting Lincoln City.