PREVIEW: Matlock prepare for Guiseley FA Cup test
Our Matlock Town correspondent Matthew Rhodes previews the FA Cup third qualifying round clash between the Gladiators and National League North side Guiseley.
Matlock Town square off against Guiseley on Tuesday evening in the FA Cup third qualifying round at Nethermoor Park as their quest to reach the FA Cup first round proper for the first time since 1989 continues.
In order to do that, the Gladiators will have to overcome a tough hurdle in the shape of the West Yorkshire outfit and will also have to do it in front of no spectators whatsoever as clubs within the top six tiers of English football are still banned from having any fans at their stadiums due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Gladiators will also be looking to make it six games unbeaten in all competitions.
Guiseley play in the National League North which is one tier above Matlock Town. Due to the delayed start of the season for National League clubs, Guiseley have only played one league game so far in the 2020/21 campaign and are currently eighth in the division after they beat Blyth Spartans 4-0 at home on the opening day of the season. The club reached this stage of the FA Cup after knocking out Atherton Collieries at home in a 4-0 win in the second qualifying round.
Guiseley are known as the Lions and were formed back in 1909. They play their home games at Nethermoor Park in Guiseley which is a suburb of Leeds. The stadium’s capacity is 4,000 under normal circumstances.
Last season, the Lions finished in ninth place in the National League North table after it was decided that the division would end on a points-per-game basis when the league had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Guiseley’s joint managers are Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill. Bignot was a right-back during his playing career and played for the likes of Crewe Alexandra, Bristol Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Millwall. The 46-year-old became Guiseley’s joint manager alongside O’Neill in May 2018. Before taking over the helm at Guiseley, Bignot has managed the likes of Birmingham City Ladies, Solihull Moors and Grimsby Town. In 2016, Bignot won the National League North title and the Birmingham Senior Cup with Solihull Moors.
O’Neill is a former Alfreton Town manager and was at the Derbyshire club when they reached the top tier of non-league football.
The Lions won the FA Vase in 1991 and clinched the NPL Premier Division title in 2010. The last trophy they won was back in 2012 when they lifted the West Riding County Cup.
Guiseley’s best ever FA Cup runs have come very recently. In the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns, the Lions reached the Second Round Proper of the FA Cup.
One to Watch:
Jonathan Wafula will be a key player to look out for on Tuesday evening. The 26 year-old Kenyan striker has played for the likes of Chesterfield, Worksop Town, Gainsborough Trinity and Boston United. Wafula signed for Guiseley from Boston United on August 10 this year.
Wafula moved to England from Kenya at the age of ten and his family initially settled in Matlock. The striker made one appearance for the Gladiators and scored one goal during an extremely brief loan spell.
Wafula scored the only goal of the game when Guiseley beat Chesterfield 1-0 at the Proact Stadium in the Lions’s last pre-season friendly before the official start of the 2020/21 campaign.
Jon Stewart, Callum Chippendale and Nathan Whitehead are still expected to be absent due to injuries. Nathan Valentine mutually agreed to leave the Gladiators shortly before Matlock Town played Ashton United in the league last weekend.
Strikers Chib Chilaka and Ben Edgson are still expected to be involved with their dual-registered clubs.
For the last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture, we have to travel back in time to ten-and-a-half years ago. On April 13, 2010, the Gladiators beat Guiseley 2-1 at home in the NPL Premier Division in front of a crowd of 304. Ross Hannah scored both goals to give the Gladiators all three points at Causeway Lane.