The Vixens make their long anticipated return home this Sunday when they welcome Stoke City Ladies to Nethermoor Park.
The season has not gone as planned for Guiseley so far but they hope familiar territory can see them get points on the board and back to winning ways.
As always, Oliver Coultas spoke to manager Glen Preston ahead of this weekend’s game.
Stoke won their very first game in impressive fashion with a 5-0 win over West Brom but they’ve struggled in the league since, losing to Leicester and Derby. How much do you read into this?
“Stoke have finished in the top five, three out of the last four seasons, they are consistently one of the best sides in the league. They have kept a settled team together and they are a strong physical side with players up front who know how to win a game so this will be another challenge for us.
“Leicester and Derby are also two very good sides and this league can be ruthless, like ourselves we played well enough to get something from the Forest and Fylde matches but when games are tight at this level, it’s the smallest margins that can settle a game. We know that if we play like we did last week then we can match any side in this league. We have plenty of quality ourselves but we know if we don’t turn up then Stoke can put the sword to us.”
You played very well against Fylde last week. Does that give you confidence going into this match?
“Fylde are a side full of super league quality. Every single player was technically superb but we matched them all the way, we took the fight to them and had good spells of dominance throughout the game. Possession was as close to 50/50 as you can get, both sides had as many efforts on goal as each other and we restricted them to only had one shot from inside the box which came from a set piece.
“Had we shown a little more in the final third we would have got something from the game there’s no question about that and so we must take confidence from that game an use it as our bench mark for the level of performance we want to see week in week out.”
We saw two returning players to the squad last week and with each passing week the team is getting back to full strength. Will we see any more returns this week?
Natalie Brace will come into the side after getting through thirty minutes with the development side last week. She’s a class player so it’s a big positive for us it will give everyone a lift. Charlie Blythe has also recovered from an ankle injury and she was excellent against Forest on the opening day of the season so we shall see two players come into the squad and bolster our options.”
You’re yet to score a league goal this campaign, what seems to be the missing link there?
“Simple really, injuries! We lost our top two goal scorers from last season and that’s always going to hit a team hard. We replaced them with Nikki Berko, Fiona Worts and Emma Rankin who unfortunately have only played a combined forty-five minutes between them this season for the club!
“Rankin got taken out at Sheffield United in a friendly and is out for the season, Berko has been picking up niggly injuries and so has only played twenty-five minutes and Worts has only just got back from New Zealand. Added to that, our forwards from last year have also been out for all of pre-season as well!
“Danica Roberts picked up an impact injury versus Barnsley in our second friendly and only returned last week, Natalie Brace hasn’t featured yet but as said is close to returning and then Debs Hastings who scored seven in five through pre-season has been playing with an injury due to how short of players we’ve had to select from.
“We’ve had no forwards to work with for the last ten weeks in training and so that’s impacted heavily in our performances but as we saw last week at Fylde, things are starting to pick up for us and we hope to have everyone back by next week.”
The last time the two sides met was in 2016 but you weren’t in charge. How far has the club since then?
“The last two fixtures between these two sides saw a combined score of 10-1 to Stoke but Guiseley are a completely different side to the team that was in this division two years ago.
“This side keeps the ball better than eighty percent of the teams in this league, we are a much stronger side technically and we have more Premier League and even Super League experience in the squad this time around so once we are back at full strength I honestly think we will see the team start to climb the table and I certainly won’t be expecting repeat score lines versus Stoke, touch wood!”
Kick-Off is at 2PM. Entry is £4, £1 concessions and Free to GAFC Season Ticket Holders.
Photo: Ian Stevens