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Play-off heartbreak again for Bower's rampant Lions
10:44am Saturday 14th June 2014 in Sport
Conference North 5th P W D L F A GD Pts
42 23 9 10 78 56 22 78
Guiseley roared towards the play-off final, only to have the chance of promotion snatched cruelly away at the end of yet another promising campaign.
It was a remarkable feat for the Nethermoor outfit, considering that their season didn’t really get going until the end of October. Steve Kittrick was at the helm when the season kicked off and he was hoping to finally earn promotion to the Conference Premier.
However, Kitty and his men got off to a bad start as they lost 3-0 to Solihull Moors on the opening day but they did win at Gainsborough Trinity three days later.
But in the first six games, the Lions’ only other victory came at home to whipping boys Workington.
A haul of just eight points from the first 18 available prompted the board of directors to relieve Kittrick of his duties. Senior player-coach Mark Bower was placed in temporary charge but he too got off to a poor start.
A run of five defeats followed before a home draw against Histon saw the former Bantams skipper get his first point as a manager. The club’s hierarchy had seen enough in that time to make Bower’s appointment permanent.
They felt he was freshening up the squad and stamping his mark on the club. It was a decision that paid dividends.
The team went on a 14-match unbeaten run, and just two of those games were drawn, with a dozen victories transforming Guiseley’s prospects.
The wettest winter in living memory brought its frustrations, with Nethermoor being waterlogged on no less than seven occasions. The Lions also faced four postponements away from home in all competitions in that spell, so momentum was interrupted.
From the away win at Harrogate Town on Boxing Day, the Lions tasted victory only once as they only played six games in two months. The other five all ended in defeat.
However, following a 2-1 win at title-chasing Brackley Town in late February ,Bower’s Lions went unbeaten for a further dozen games. The 13 proved to be unlucky as Guiseley lost 3-2 at Hednesford Town.
There were just four games of the regular season left at that point but Bower got the response he wanted following that defeat and three wins and a draw saw them claim fifth place.
They faced home and away legs against runners-up North Ferriby United, and the Lions maintained their 100 per cent record over them. They won both games, having beaten Ferriby in both league fixtures.
That meant they were up against former manager Lee Sinnott’s Altrincham, and away from home in a winner-takes-all one-off clash because Alty had finished higher in the table.
Just as the game was heading to a penalty shoot-out finish, Alty nicked a winner in the dying seconds of extra time.
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