FC Halifax v Guiseley: Bragging rights at stake on the big screen

YOU could say that FC Halifax Town and derby rivals Guiseley head into this lunchtime's televised National League game in a much better frame of mind than they could have been in.

Guiseley's Will Hatfield: Faces former club.

This time last week, both sides felt a pressing need to acquaint themselves with the wins column in the National League, having started the new campaign without a three-point haul.

That precious commodity arrived come 5pm, with the Shaymen triumphing 1-0 at Solihull Moors and the Lions securing a dramatic late 3-2 home success over Torquay United, with confidence levels of both likely to have been replenished in the process.

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For Guiseley, the victory will have been particularly prescient, given the fact that it took them 14 games to claim their first league victory of last term, with former manager Mark Bower among the casualties as the Nethermoor men had a desperate time of it until starting the ‘Great Escape’ with a 6-1 win over York City in early October.

Looking forward to today’s game, which will be screened live on BT Sport at 12.30pm, visiting midfielder and one-time Halifax player Will Hatfield said: “We needed that win last weekend and it was important that we got the first win, especially with last season when we went so long without winning. It was nice to get it out of the way.

“We didn’t play particularly well, but the feeling of scoring in the last minute will, hopefully, do everyone really good and the confidence will be high.

“We had a few disappointing results and performances early on, so to get over the line with that first win will enable us to kick on.

“We have that winning feeling again and need to build on it as performances have been a bit up and down.”

Both sides have endured mixed fortunes in front of the cameras in recent seasons, with Halifax’s last appearance coming in their famous FA Trophy final victory over Grimsby Town in May, 2016.

The tantalising prospect of securing not just some welcome derby bragging rights, but extra kudos through triumphing in front of a watching televised audience beckons for the two rivals this afternoon, although both camps are keen to retain a sense of focus.

On whether the derby occasion may provide an extra edge between two sides who were pitted in grim fight to avoid the drop at the end of 2015-16 – with Halifax being the ones to succumb to a final-day relegation, while Guiseley survived – Shaymen chief Billy Heath said: “It might do, and it might add something to it for the supporters, but we will go about our business in the same way.

“We have to be focused and not get carried away with the situation because it is an early kick-off and because it is on BT. We need to play the way we have been doing.

“You do not want to start doing things you do not normally do because you are on TV.

“We will stick to what we do. We do not want to be overdoing things. It is not a regular occurrence for these boys but we just want to play our normal game and not over-egg the pudding.”

Not getting caught up in any potential distractions is something that is also firmly in the mindset of Guiseley’s players and management, according to Hatfield.

He added: “It is good publicity for the lads and always nice when the cameras are there.

“But once the whistle goes, then it is just like any other game and you just focus on playing and forget everything else that is going on.

“It is nice when people are watching, but we are just there to get the three points and are focused on performing.

“I am sure that they will be a strong and well-organised unit. From what I have heard, they are a strong, solid team and they are a big club with a big stadium.

“But every game is this league is tough and we will not expect anything different this Saturday afternoon.”