Guiseley Vixens kick off the 2017/18 season this Sunday in their first game back in the WPL Northern Division, against Nottingham Forest.
The two sides met last season in the Women’s FA Cup where Forest narrowly left Nethermoor the victors with a 1-0 win.
We sat down with manager Glen Preston to gain his thoughts about the opening day of the season and what he expects from the game.
So, Glen, this is the first game of the season and the first competitive game with the new squad you’ve assembled. How are you feeling about it as a collective?
“I think in terms of quality and strength in-depth we’ve improved from last season. We’ve brought in top-class players who have substantial Premier League, Super League and in one or two player’s cases International experience. I’d go as far to say that on paper this is the strongest Guiseley squad I’ve ever seen and that’s been reflected in our pre-season at times.
“When we’ve had a full team out or something close to it, we have rubbed shoulders with Super League clubs and more than held our own, even looking stronger in some cases.
“We feel we have bridged the gap between us and that level although we recognise we still have a few steps to go. For us now it’s about getting a settled team out on the pitch because with injuries and absentees it’s been a little disjointed of late.
“As a collective though, I think we are confident we can have our successful season and be operating at the right end of the table.”
Speaking of injuries there, just how big of an impact will the missing players be a part in the outcome of the game?
“You know it’s never ideal is it to have so many absentees and injuries for the opening few games of the season but that’s the situation we find ourselves in.
“We’ve been very unlucky that three or four have picked up impact injuries in games, a couple more are carrying niggly injuries that will probably rule them out for one to two weeks and then we have a further three absent.
“Saying that this is why you have a squad and for us, it will be about mental strength to take the battle to our opponents in order to get results in the first few games. It’s an opportunity for a couple of other players to step up and make a name for themselves and we have great momentum and a winning mentality from last season so we won’t be pushovers, despite having a depleted squad.”
You’ve faced Forest once last season in the FA Cup where they narrowly beat you 1-0. They’re also recruited a lot of players over the pre-season. How much do you know about them?
“It’s the opening day of the season so that means anything can happen and tactics can go out of the window inside five mins.
“The game last season was close. From our point of view, we felt we were a tad unlucky and shaded the game without being at our best but overall last year’s game won’t mean a great deal or have too much baring on this match as both sides will have a different look and feel about them.
“I’ve come up against Graham (Abercrombie) a few times when at Huddersfield and so we have an idea of how he likes his teams to play. He’s a good guy and good manager with a winner’s title to his name so we know we will be up against it.
“We know many of their players like new signing Sammy Con who is a player I’ve worked with and a great signing which makes them even stronger but we also have players with Super League and international experience. The brand of football we play is strong and it’s not easy to get the ball off us when we are at our best so we hope to make Forest have their work cut out for them come Sunday.”
The game is set for a 3PM kick-off at Basford United’s ground (NG6 0LD). Match build up and updates will be posted on Twitter.
Words: Oliver Coultas, Photo: Alex Daniel