It’s been a long time coming for Guiseley Vixens, but a first home game since November now sees them entering their match with Derby County full of confidence, in a season that manager Glen Preston calls “the most stop-start season (he’s) ever experienced.”
A 4-0 defeat of Leeds United Reserves in the County Cup, along with the small matter of signing former Huddersfield Town goal machine Emily Heckler, adds yet more fuel to an already hugely brimming fire ahead of Derby County’s visit to Nethermoor Park.
A “soul destroying” equaliser in the final ten seconds saw Guiseley miss out on a first league win of the season last time the sides met, however the home advantage, as well as a strengthened squad, has re-ignited Preston’s quest for three precious points.
“This is probably going to be one of the strongest sides we have put out this season,” says Preston, “its been no secret we’ve had to deal with major injuries right from the start of the campaign, so much so we have at no point yet put out what we consider to be our best XI, but we are edging closer and closer now.
“I think (Heckler) gives everyone tremendous belief she’s possibly the signing of the season! I worked with her for 2-3 years at Huddersfield where I think she scored approximately 80-90 goals in around 60-70 games for me and in my last season at Town she scored 44 goals in 29 games so we know exactly what she can do!
“She already played one game for us already against Super League opposition and wowed everyone with 3 unreal goals. So she could have a massive impact on all of us but equally I think she will make defenders not feel so confident about playing Guiseley right know as well as make mangers re-consider how many players they want to push forward because if Heckler is left vs just 2 CBs I back her every time.
“This week we will also be welcoming back Natalie Brace, Nikki Berko and now Heckler into the side but at the same time we do have a couple of players carrying knocks and 1-2 general absentee’s so we are not at full strength, but we have a stronger side than what we have fielded for most of the season.
“We also have genuine firepower in other areas now which will strike fear into any side with the likes of Berko who also scored a brilliant hat-trick mid-week for us and Fiona Worts who has scored 9 goals in her last 4 games, including bagging against Derby last time around. So we have some tough decisions to make but it is going to take a brave manager to leave out a player who has scored more than a goal a game at this level, but we will have to see.”
Kick-off is 2PM at Nethermoor Park on Sunday 25th March.
Photo: Alex Daniel
Words: Connor Craig-Jackson