Pre-season: AFC Guiseley (h) Match Preview

by Peter Scherer

National League North side Guiseley are based near Leeds and have played three friendly matches so far, all away from home.

They started with a 1-0 win at Thackley, before a 0-0 draw at Worksop Town. Last Saturday they visited Nuneaton Borough, going down 2-0.

Joint manager’s Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill are both vastly experienced. Bignot played for QPR and Crewe Alexandra and O’Neill was well known locally for his part in Alfreton Town’s success a few years ago.

Like last week’s visit from Alfreton, Guiseley have mixed their permanent players with a number of trialists.

Both goalkeeper’s Hagie Danba and Declan Lambton have been through the Bradford City Youth scheme.

There is plenty of experience from centre back and club captain Hamza Bencherif. Paris born, he started his football career with Guingamp in France, before joining Nottingham Forest’s Academy.

He later moved on to Halifax Town and Wrexham, before winning the FA Trophy with York City. He’s an Algerian under 20 International too.

Fellow defender Dan Cowan came to the club in July from Stockport County, but has played for Buxton, New Mills and Macclesfield, as well as loan spells at Ashton and Chorley.

Will Thornton made his first team in 2017 and is a product of Guiseley’s own junior programme, he also had a loan spell at Gainsborough last year.

2017 was the year Nathan Newell was signed too and last year he had a dual registration with Frickley Athletic. He also went on loan to Ossett Albion.

Prince Ekpolo came to the club in January from Glossop North End, he is also an ex Burscough player.

Winger Kaine Felix has spent two years at Guiseley and scored 10 goals last season. His career path came from Peterborough Utd Academy, via St Neots, Boston Utd, York City, Stockport County, Deeping Rangers, Leamington and Brackley.

Mark Howarth is a new signing, only arriving last month. The midfielder spent 10 years in the Burnley Academy, before going to Salford City and loans at Marine, Buxton and Droylsden.

It was an initial loan that became permanent for George Cantrill, another midfielder who came through Sheffield Utd’s academy.

Gabriel Johnson is yet another Sheffield Utd product. The 6ft striker was signed in June last year, having spent time with Manchester Utd Under 14’s, Leeds Utd’s Under 17’s and more recently Doncaster Rovers and Hallam.

Another new addition is Matty Gillam, coming in from Rochdale last month. He came through Port Vale’s Academy and had a loan spell at Stalybridge Celtic.

Adam Haw is another homemade product from the Guiseley Academy. He has also been out on loan at Emley.

One of the more senior members of the team is Paul Clayton who originally came as assistant manager in 2018. He still plays and his striking prowess has previously graced Atherton and Harrogate Town.

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