THE Non-League footballing ladder has suffered the most during the past 18 months as Covid-19 took a hold of the ‘beautiful game’.

Football at this level has been impacted significantly by the pandemic- resulting in a couple of turbulent seasons taking place with fixtures postponed and divisions curtailed.

Not only on the sporting side of things but most non-League level clubs have also suffered severely in relation to finance with the absence of crowds.

With no money coming through the gates, some clubs have benefitted through government loans, however all in all it has been a strange time in the footballing world.

However, after the government lifted restrictions on all sport, July 19, it has given many non-League clubs renewed hope and excitement heading into the new campaign.

Guiseley, who play their football in the Vanarama National League North prepare for their return to competitive action today as they host Flyde (3:00 pm) in the first game of the season.

It will be a tough test for Marcus Bignot’s men as they come up against a side who were in second place when the season was curtailed.

Fans will be in attendance, whilst there will be no cap on capacity- giving the Lion’s faithful a chance to cast their eye over Bignot’s newly formed squad.

Guiseley only completed only 15 of their matches in the previous season before the season was curtailed, however they found themselves 20th out of a possible 22 teams when it was brought to a premature close.

Their position in the table may have appeared quite unfair to a lot of Guiseley fans and football neutrals- with Guiseley playing an attractive brand of football but lacking that killer instinct.

The arrival of players such as Jake Day (forward) and Regan Hutchinson (defender) could prove to be a welcome boost heading into the new campaign for the Lions.

Speaking to the T&A recently, joint manager Russ O’Neill expressed his happiness with his club’s recent incomings, in particularly with the additions in forward areas.

He said: “I think looking back at recruitment, it was always a case of we need more goals throughout the team.

“The performances were good in spells last season but we just didn’t get the goals that we felt the performances deserved.

“In key moments in games you need somebody who is going to put the ball in the back of the net- not always when you’re on top, but at times where the game is going against you, then that always helps.

“If you have someone who can get you a goal out of nothing then you can get that extra point or three points in a game where you might not deserve it.

“So, we thought it was massively important that we identified brining goals into the team.

“We’ve got a tight budget; however, we feel as though we’ve got great value for money. We’ve now got a potential for goals all the way through the team.”

It will be interesting to see whether Day can add that ruthless edge to a Guiseley side which missed a striker capable of scoring at crucial times.

The striker joined after departing from Alfreton Town- which will see Day make the step up from Step 5 to Step 2.

The Lions only managed 17 goals in 15 games, however they also conceded a total of 22 goals- leaving their goal difference standing at -5 by the time the season had concluded.

Guiseley fans will be also hoping their side can tighten up their backline and they will be pleased to know trialist centre-back Andrew Hollins has joined the club for the 2021-22 campaign.

Left-back Brad Nicholson has also stayed on with the club after spending the previous two seasons at Nethermoor.

And goalkeeper, Luke Jackson, has joined on a month’s loan from Sheffield Wednesday.