GUISELEY manager Marcus Bignot says it is no surprise to see West Yorkshire rivals Bradford (Park Avenue) riding high in the Vanarama National League North, highlighting their experience as a key factor.

The two sides clash at Nethermoor today in a Boxing Day special and Bignot - whose side returned to winning ways at Nuneaton last Saturday - is well aware of what his side are up against.

He said: "They were up there last year and they have a lot of experience among the playing squad. There's players in that team who have won this league before and got up through or been in the play-offs.

"I've seen Bradford a few times this season actually, and they deserve to be where they are at the moment.

"It's a long season though, and obviously they want to be there at the end in April, not just now at Christmas."

The two rivals will face off today and on New Year's Day, with every team in the league facing the same set of reverse fixtures on those dates.

Asked whether he found the idea of facing the same opponent twice in a week a little strange, Bignot said: "That's just how it works in this league.

"It's great for the board and the supporters because it creates a lot of interest, rivalry and banter. Playing Bradford twice in quick succession means we can stamp our authority on the fixture.

"It could also set a marker down in terms of the direction we want to be heading in for the rest of the season."

While most people will be enjoying some time off between Christmas and New Year, footballers have no such luck, but Bignot said: "Boxing Day football is a tradition and it's a sacrifice we knowingly make as footballers.

"We rarely get to spend time with our families but that's just the way it is. We have to stay focused on the field because it's an important period for us."

Bignot is happy to have had the chance to use some fringe players in the West Riding County Cup, with squad rotation being potentially important over the busy festive period.

The Lions beat Harrogate Town 2-0 earlier in the month to advance into the quarter-finals and were able to use the likes of dual-registered Jack Dyche and teenager Nathan Newall in the side.

The Guiseley boss said: "It's good to give players minutes in the County Cup so they can be ready when called upon.

"It gives us food for thought in terms of selection but ultimately we still want to put out our strongest team every week.

"Footballers are physically used to this many games at this time of year, and we always want to pick a side that can win those matches."