To put into perspective just how big a game this is Wood Manager Luke Garrard has declared; “ This is bigger, much bigger than gaining promotion to the National League. Survival is by far a greater achievement than getting to this League by a mile. We are in with a big shout to pull it off and it will hopefully grab the attention of the town. We are in good shape going into this game and all those fans who made the effort to cheer us on in the play off Final last season need to be here. I cannot stress how massive Saturday afternoon is for the club.”
With Kidderminster Harriers and Welling United having their fate decided last weekend, the race for survival is now between four clubs fighting for two places. The visitors have a clear mandate with a two point advantage over Wood. They require three points from their last two game to survive.
Wood have a rather murkier yet achievable target. A win in this crucial relegation clash will leave Altrincham unable to catch Wood, courtesy of their superior goal difference, making it a three horse race. However Halifax Town, sitting a point below Wood with a game in hand could make matters worse for the other three sides if they were to win Tuesday nights home tie with Eastleigh.
Indeed were Wood to lose the Guiseley game and Halifax took maximum points again from Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, it would spell the end of Luke Garrard’s sides tenure in the top tier of Non League football at the final whistle.
Of course it may all go to the final day, or if results go in Wood’s favour, a win against Guiseley, coupled with Halifax Town taking just one point from their next two games, will mean mass celebrations at the end of the game on Saturday!
Guiseley, like Wood gained promotion at the end of last season. They achieved that at the fifth time of asking with a memorable 3-2 win over Chorley, a game that they trailed 2-0 at half time. The previous year it was Altrincham who broke the Lion’s hearts, winning that play off Final, Guiseley’s fourth consecutive year they had earned a play off spot. Ironically it may well be that Guiseley earn enough points this season to send Alty back down again.
The visitors have picked up just one win in their last eight matches, compared to Wood’s two. However that win was a colossal three points gained in an eye catching 3-1 win at home to Wrexham.
Like Wood Guiseley have a young Manager at the helm in the shape of 36 year old Mark Bower, who played most of his career at Bradford City as a central defender. In his twelve year stay with the Bantams he notched up 231 appearances, before finishing his playing days at the club he now manages. The leading scorer at the Yorkshire club is Adam Boyes with nine, but there are goals throughout the side with a clutch of players on six and five goals apiece.
The first time the two sides ever met was a game of two halves up at Nethermoor. Wood were second best in the opening half, with Guiseley playing a pressing game to good effect. Clovis Kamdjo earned Wood the lead on the hour, before Jamie Lucas missed two good chances to wrap up the tie, before Nicky Boshell earned a point for his side in the very last minute from the penalty spot.
The end to the season could not be any closer and with the National League title already won, it leaves the battle for survival as the most intriguing in English League football, with the focus on this game. Meadow Park really is the place to be this coming Saturday as Wood continue to plot the Great Escape!
Vanarama National League.
Boreham Wood v Guiseley.
Saturday April 23rd, kick off 3pm.