GUISELEY'S joint manager Russ O'Neill admitted his side were hurting badly after the humiliating 5-1 home defeat to West Yorkshire rivals Bradford (Park Avenue) on Boxing Day in the Vanarama National League North.

He believed the painfully fresh memories of that result inspired the Lions to a stunning New Year's Day turnaround, as they emerged with a 2-1 win from the reverse fixture.

O'Neill said: "The result on Boxing Day was a massive disappointment and it really damaged us. We had a point to prove and in the end, we came away with three."

Avenue manager Mark Bower was unimpressed with some of the decisions that went against his side, with substitute Jamie Spencer controversially dismissed following a scuffle with Guiseley defender Niall Heaton.

That was not the only flashpoint to occur during the match but O'Neill had few complaints with the derby day drama that unfolded.

Instead, he said: "You expect that kind of thing in derbies. It was a competitive match that both sides wanted to win. I don't think it was even that fiery in all honesty."

Kayode Odejayi and Rowan Liburd were the Guiseley goalscorers at Horsfall and O'Neill was full of praise for the deadly duo up front.

He enthused: "The pair of them are imposing lads with a real physical presence. They both scored and kept the back four occupied throughout.

"Bradford played a lot of good football out from the back at Nethermoor and we stopped them doing that this time around.

"The manner of getting beat on Boxing Day meant we looked like we might have fallen into a slump.

"So looking back over our four Christmas games, we're relatively happy with two wins (against Nuneaton and Bradford), one draw (at home to Altrincham) and a defeat."

Guiseley's second game of 2019 sees them host Leamington at Nethermoor on Saturday. Their visitors narrowly avoided relegation last season but are sitting comfortably in mid-table this time around.

O'Neill feels this showcases the competitive and even nature of the division, and he said: "There's no easy game in this league and the Leamington match will be no different.

"Top to bottom, I don't think there's one outstanding team. Nuneaton are bottom and we did beat them (3-1) the other week, but it was still an even game that could have gone either way."

Guiseley were relegated last season and sit 16th at the halfway point of this campaign but O'Neill insists that the Lions are happy with their current progress.

He said: "We can't get away from the fact that we've had to do a lot of number crunching this year.

"We've also had a good run in the FA Cup and although we've had ups and downs in the league, we still have games in hand over all of the other teams.

"We're actually further ahead of where we thought we'd be as a club at this stage and we're relatively happy, on the pitch and financially."

Finally, Guiseley confirmed yesterday that Alex-Ray Harvey had left the club after just over a year at Nethermoor.

The central midfielder made 37 appearances for the Lions in total.