IT has been a tough old start to the 2020-21 season for Vanarama National League North side Guiseley.

Russ O'Neill and Marcus Bignot's men initially began quite steadily, capturing four points in their opening three games.

However, it soon took a turn for the worse when the whole squad was plunged into a period of isolation.

The 19-day enforced break from all football activity occurred after one of their players tested positive for Covid-19.

Three defeats in four games followed upon their return leaving the Lions briefly in the bottom two.

O'Neill feels the time off did his newly assembled team no favours.

"The three week break we had really derailed us," he said.

"We finished last season and wanted to keep as many of the youngsters together that we could.

"Unfortunately, when players have good seasons clubs with more resources come take what they want and leave you with what’s left.

"We had to rebuild. We have been finding our feet and reinventing ourselves tactically again with a group of new players.

"We are not in a position to sign last year’s best players in the league so we have to get a lot of players from the league below.

"The likes of Lebrun Mbeka, John Lufudu, Prince Ekpolo, and the academy lads Nathan Newall and Adam Haw have been brought in.

"It has been a difficult start but hopefully we are getting somewhere now."

O'Neill is talking about his side's most recent result, a 2-0 win at Spennymoor Town on Tuesday which lifted them out of the drop zone.

Andy Kellett and Gabriel Johnson's goals meant Guiseley could put Saturday's defeat by the same scoreline at AFC Telford United, which ended their 11-match away unbeaten streak, behind them.

He added: "If you were a betting man you would have put your money on Spennymoor. They are expected to be in the playoffs and we were on a bad run.

"We were confident though. We knew our performances were improving and really fancied our chances.

"Getting the first goal gives you a huge lift. If you don’t get it, you are still battling.

"It was a great goal and we were well deserved winners in the end.

"Testament to the lads! They have had three long away trips (to Kettering Town, AFC Telford United and Spennymoor) all in the space of eight days."

A return to Nethermoor is the next item on the agenda for Guiseley.

Their opponents Brackley Town sit in a similar position, one place below them in 20th.

Nevertheless, the joint-boss is expecting the Saints, who recently got knocked out of the FA Cup second round by League Two side Tranmere Rovers, to travel up to Leeds with their A game.

"The games don’t come any easier. Brackley are a massive test for us.

"We will regroup and see if we can reach the heights of the win over Spennymoor.

"Tuesday night we got to a place we want to be but Saturday we will be trying to improve on that and get another three points."