Guiseley Vixens will lift the FAWPL Division One North trophy this Sunday when they play Liverpool Feds having confirmed their league title win last weekend.
Oliver Coultas spoke with manager Glen Preston to get his thoughts on what he expects from his team and other goings on in the league.
Now you’ve won the league, will we see any drastic changes to the squad?
“I don’t think we will see dramatic changes but we plan to use the last three games to experiment tactically and with personnel.
“It’s rare you can get three games outside of pre-season to just try different ideas with no consequence so we might use these games to plan for next season a wee bit although I doubt wholesale changes will be made.”
It was a difficult game last week but the squad showed the drive to overcome it. How do you feel about that?
“I think the players were nervous to be honest and it reflected in our play. We struggled to retain the ball to our normal standards, players seemed to be tense and unforced errors were rife throughout the team.
“We needed a little more strength of character and calmness to help us overcome and settle into the occasion but in the second-half we got that and that’s why I feel we overcame a tricky opponent to get a well-deserved three points and win the league.
“Hopefully this weekend we will play with complete freedom now the pressure is off and hit peak performance.”
Do you expect that determination from them to finish the season strongly?
“We have targets that we aspire to achieve to see out the season: We want to keep our 100 per cent record intact against all the title rivals if we can. We want to surpass Middlesbrough’s 55 points from last year, better our efficiency in several areas of our play and produce some entertaining performances.
“We will potentially have a big say in the relegation battle as well and so we owe it to ourselves and the rest of the league to produce our absolute best.
“If we could finish with nine more points reaching 61, it would be an incredible feat matched only by Leicester City last season.”
Last Sunday We saw Hannah Hale in a further forward position to usual, how did you think she did and do you think we will see her there in the future?
“It came out of necessity really as we lost Thacks (Liv Thackray), who has been our number ten all season, just before the Blackpool game to injury and so it was a last minute change.
“Saying that, Hannah’s a great player who can play anywhere in midfield she’s that clever and so I wouldn’t rule out us using her in that role again but in all honesty there isn’t a better number ten in the league than Liv Thackray so I wouldn’t expect to see Hannah playing at ten week in week out.”
There are a few players missing this week with three forwards out, will it change the style of play at all?
“Yes it’s not ideal but we can take heart from the fact we had most of our regular forward players missing against Chester le Street and Mossley Hill in recent weeks and still managed to produce two quality performances and pick up six points.
“The players who came in on those days really rose to the challenge and we have belief they will do again so I don’t think we will need to make major changes as the quality is still there.”
You won fairly comfortably last time round 3-1 but now Feds are in great form under new manager Fran Alonso. What can you expect from them this time round and how do you compare playing wise?
“Credit to Fran, he’s come in and put together a string of impressive results to carry on the good work put in by John Evans over the last couple of years.
“He’s ignited a buzz factor around the club which makes them a very dangerous opponent and when you add that to the fact they will want to prove a point against the champions then you have a real match up!
“I’d like to think we will pose a much stronger proposition for them this weekend than perhaps one or two of their recent encounters and even from when we played them earlier in the season where I feel we’ve improved as the season gone on.
“In comparing ourselves to Feds we’ve probably got almost identical playing styles and principles from what I’ve seen, we both like to dominate the ball, play out from the back, play with maximum width and achieve superiority in key zones on the pitch, so it’s got the makings of a great game.”
Finally, you will get to lift the trophy this weekend how proud will you be to see the players rewarded for such an amazing season?
“Myself and Kyle will be, and already are made up for the players and staff. We keep saying it but it’s been a long, tough season. Hull and Feds have pushed us all the way and on maybe on another year they would have been worthy winners outright themselves but we have been amazing all year and you can take it away from the players.
“We haven’t just won the league by the skin of our teeth, we’ve really taken our game to the opposition week in week out, playing with style and grace and we’ve been a joy to watch and contributed towards raising the standards at this level.”
He finished by saying: “For me, the players and staff really deserve this weekend as does our chairman John Shirt who has made this season possible.”
The Vixens play this Sunday at their final home game at Nethermoor Park for this season with their next two games being played at Bradford Academy.
Kick-Off is 2pm. Entry is £3, £1 concessions and free to Guiseley Season Ticket holders.
Follow The Vixens on Twitter: @GuiseleyVixens for match updates.
Words: Oliver Coultas | Photo: Alex Daniel