Guiseley manager Mark Bower is hoping his players can use the FA Trophy as a springboard to securing Vanarama National League safety.
The Lions secured safe passage through to the last sixteen of the competition with a keenly contested 2-1 win at Ryman League club Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday.
Their reward for that victory in London is a Third Round trip to league rivals Dover Athletic.
With his side in the lower reaches of the National League table, Bower hopes they can take full advantage of the “confidence and excitement” that the FA Trophy can bring.
He said “Wins breed confidence and when you are in the bottom half of the table, like we are, any sort of win breeds confidence.
It gives you the boost you need to get things moving forwards and we will be going to Dover looking to get through.
It is a great competition and we have a big enough squad to cope with the extra games.
The main thing is confidence and excitement it can give the players, and the club in general, so we will be looking to make the most of it”
And what of that tie at Dover?
Chris Kinner’s side currently sit in fourth place in the table and are, in Bower’s opinion, “one of the top sides in our league”.
The game also marks a third consecutive away draw in the competition for the Lions and their manager feels that the draw was not an ideal one for his side.
“It’s a tough one for us. Dover are one of the top sides in our league and are probably right up there with the sides who will take the FA Trophy very seriously.
It is a long way to travel and it is another away game for us, which we seem to have a lot of at the moment.
It’s not an ideal draw but that’s what you can get in cup competitions so we just have to deal with it and try to get through to the next round”
Before that tie takes place Bower and his players return to league action with an away games at the basement club Kidderminster Harriers.
That means a different kind of challenge for the Lions after facing trips to a number of the division’s promotion chasers in the last ten games.
That run has been “tough” according to Bower, but he hopes his side, now boosted by the return of some key players, can take full advantage and move themselves away from the drop zone.
“We got a kind run of games at the start of the season, where we picked up points and were hovering around mid-table.
But we have played a lot of top teams recently and I think we have played four of the top five away from home.
It has been tough but they are out of the way and we now have to keep picking up points to keep away from the relegation zone. We always expected it to be tough but we have players coming back from injury, we have new signings and we look stronger for it”
Bower isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding one more player to his squad too.
During the January transfer window loan deals for Wrexham winger Adam Smith and Torquay United full back James Hurst have been made permenant and the club added Bury striker Anthony Dudley(pictured above right) to their squad on loan until the end of the season.
And Bower admitted that he would like to bring one more player to the squad, although did concede the deal would have to be the right one.
“We will possibly add one more player if the right one comes available. We do have players coming back from injury and two new signings we have already made.
Players like Ben Parker(pictured below left) and Rob Atkinson are back so there has been strengthening of the squad and we have made two loan deals permenant as well.
However if that right player is there, wants to come and we can do a deal for him, then we will maybe bring one more in”
Bower offered an honest assessment of the external views of his side ahead of the season, feeling that many experts had already condemned his side to an immediate return to the National League North.
However he is pleased with the way his players have coped and now believes they are ready to put in a strong end to the season.
“I think most people had us down as relegation fodder before the league even started. We are in and around that bottom four at the moment but there is a little gap between us.
We have to keep picking up points and ideally we want to get back to playing home games. We haven’t played at home since late November because of postponements.
We were strong at home when we were able to play so hopefully we can carry that form on and pick up some points away from home because the lads have been great so far this season and have coped with a lot of injuries to key players.
We are in a position now to kick on and I think we will do that”
Interview: Mark Carruthers
Images: Guiseley AFC