Mark 'Skip' Boyd eyes another upset for Shildon AFC in the FA Cup at Guiseley

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As non-league clubs throughout the UK look to reach the first round of the competition this weekend, a Shildon side stacked with Cumbrian links will be among those looking to produce a bit of FA Cup magic.

Shildon AFC, managed by former Celtic Nation man Daniel Moore, who is assisted by Cumbrian Mark "Skip" Boyd and Hartlepool legend Micky Barron, will visit National League Guiseley on Saturday.

Understandably, Boyd says everyone at the Northern League, Division One club is relishing the chance to cause an upset at Nethermoor Park.

“Yeah, we’re all looking forward to it. We have done well to get to the fourth qualifying round,” Carlisle-born Boyd says.

“It would be amazing to get to the first round proper because it would generate a lot of money for the club. But we’re massive underdogs on Saturday.

“I know Guiseley are third-bottom of the National League, but they are a lot of leagues above us. That’s a good league. I have commentated on it for the last couple of seasons and there is a lot of quality in it.

“But our manager [Moore] has been to watch them. He knows what they are about and I know what Paul Cox’s teams are all about, so we will just have to prepare as best as we can.

“We are going to train tonight. We just want the lads to enjoy it. Hopefully, there is a decent crowd there, we will take a number of fans and we will give it a go.

“They are third-bottom of the National League, so they have not won many games this season. It won’t be easy for them because we’re a decent team. We will see how we get on.”

There will be a familiar face for former Carlisle United and Workington Reds man in the opposition dug-out as Boyd, who covered Barrow for BBC Radio Cumbria as recently ago as last season, comes up against Paul Cox.

Cox led the Holker Street outfit to a seventh-placed finish in the National League last term, before leaving the Bluebirds in August, taking over at Guiseley soon after.

Boyd believes it’s “no coincidence” Barrow, who sit just outside the relegation zone, have struggled to replicate last season’s form after Cox’s departure.

He admits: “I was disappointed to see him leave because Barrow were on the up under Paul Cox. He gets success and knows how to build a team.

“The team he built at Barrow last season was good because they were on the verge of the play-offs. They did really well in the FA Cup, making the third round, and a lot of lads got good moves this summer. That’s all credit to him.

“But it’s no coincidence that fortunes have changed at Barrow and they are at the wrong end of the table. Paul’s a proven manager but, most of all, he’s a really nice guy.

“It will be good to go down and see him, and catch-up. He made a lot of time for me when I did the commentary. It will be strange being in the opposite dug-out but, when I saw the draw, the first thing I thought was ‘Paul Cox is there’.

“I know what his teams are like – they are very big, very direct in the way they play, but they are very effective. So, we have got to stand up, be counted and compete as well as we can. Hopefully, we will get a little bit of luck.”

It would be a big giant-killing if the Railwaymen were to knock out Cox’s men.

But, on their way to the fourth qualifying round, Shildon have already beaten Southern League Premier Division outfit Banbury United (3-2) and National League North outfit Altrincham (1-0), as well as Bottesford Town (1-0), Guisborough Town (5-1) and Morpeth Town (2-0).

Shildon, though, will come into the game on the back of their first defeat this term, losing to Marske United at the weekend.

“We lost our first game of the season on Saturday, losing 2-1 against Marske," Boyd explains.

“It was two sort of freak goals. They scored direct from a corner and then scored a free-kick from 50 yards with the last kick of the game which caught our keeper off his line.

“Fair play to their lads. But to lose your first game in October is not bad.”

As well as Boyd and player-manager Moore – known to team-mates as “Bobby” – former Carlisle United man Matty Robson, ex-Workington Reds defender Kyle May, former Celtic Nation and Gretna attacker David Renyard and Penrith’s record-breaking scorer Martyn Coleman are also on the books at Dean Street.

“The changing room is just full of great lads. It’s a good changing room and a good atmosphere. I have taken Kyle May and David Renyard over with me,” Boyd, who played for Newcastle as a youngster, adds.

“They have settled in really well. It’s good. We really enjoy it. The lads do really well. I work alongside Daniel Moore, who is the player-manager, and Micky Barron and myself are his assistants. We all work well together.

“We all get on really well and that goes a long way because the changing room is full of characters. We haven’t played well every game this season, but we have a really good team spirit which sometimes gets us over the line. We will need all of that on Saturday and more.

“We know we’re massive underdogs, but we have been massive underdogs in the last two rounds.

“We’re confident we can give them a game. We won’t go there and roll over.

“People might not be expecting us to, but I’m sure we will give them a really good game. We would have preferred a home tie because we would have fancied our chances.

“But we’re going away to Guiseley. We’re excited by it and it’s not something we think is impossible to do. We will have a full squad and a good bench.

“I know for a fact that all the lads will give it everything they have got.”

Guiseley scathed off the threat of relegation last term as they remained in the top-tier of non-league football in England and Boyd, whose preferred opposition would have been Barrow, says: “We have still got a National League side.

“With the resources Guiseley have got, it has been a massive achievement for them to stay in their league. They stayed up last season which is fair play to them because, in that league, it’s hard for clubs like Guiseley.

“They are a club without a huge amount of money, so I’m sure Paul Cox will pull in a few favours from clubs he’s known over the years. I’m sure he will get them out of trouble.

“I wanted Barrow but I know, Micky Barron who is our other assistant manager, he wanted Hartlepool because he is a Pools legend and was with them for years and years.

“Everybody has their eyes on different teams. But we have ended up with a National League side, they got a decent point on Saturday [at Maidstone]. Paul Cox has steadied the ship. He will have them playing in a certain way.

“He will have them more than ready for us on Saturday.”

On Shildon’s own squad, Boyd adds: “We have got good strength in depth, to be honest. We have 18 or 19 really top quality players.

“On Saturday, Kyle May has been out with pneumonia and Martyn Coleman has just signed. But, if you turn around to the bench and you have those two sat there, you know you’re doing something right.

“They will play a lot of games. Martyn Coleman will score a lot of goals and Kyle has been around for years.

“He’s one of the best centre-halves that Cumbria has produced. It’s good that they have come over with me. Of the lads who were already there, Matty Robson played for Carlisle. There are plenty of lads with a lot of experience in higher leagues.”

Boyd, and Shildon, might just need to call upon all of that higher-level experience if they are to book their place in the FA Cup first round.

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