Tomorrow sees Guiseley Vixens with a huge chance to grab a very pleasing piece of silverware as they prepare to do battle in the West Riding County Cup final.
But in order to do so Glen Preston’s side must become the first side in five years to stop league rivals Bradford City taking home the cup, as his side also have revenge firmly on their minds after a 3-0 defeat in last season’s semi-final.
However, it seems as if times have very much changed since the sides took each other on last season, with Preston feeling his side can be even more competitive this time around.
“We haven’t forgotten last year,” says Preston, “which in truth was a great learning experience for us. Whilst we didn’t get the result we wanted we took heart from that game because it signalled a turning point for us as a club.
“Previous to that the Guiseley v Bradford fixture hadn’t really been a competitive match up, the combined score in the 15/16 season was 10-2, so this was the first time we have seen a Bradford team having to defend for their lives to win a game of football and that gives us great belief that we can beat them on our best day.
“Bradford have had a tougher route to get to the final this year and at times they’ve had to show great resilience to grind out 1-2 win’s, so maybe we can be encouraged in the sense that it shows that they are not invincible, but we respect our opposition enough to know that on their day they can run over any team. So, whilst on paper it may seem they have stumbled there way into the final we know better than to underestimate our opponents and we won’t be taking them lightly.”
Preston also feels that the competition this year has been much more open than previous season’s, with defending champions Bradford having faced a more difficult route to the final than in previous seasons.
Therefore, the desire for Guiseley to turn the recent tide of the competition is stronger than ever, with a possible new name, along with a number of other fresh contenders giving It the potential to be a “far more exciting” competition.
“I think in recent years the County Cup probably hasn’t been the most overly competitive if we’re honest.” says Preston “But this year it’s been great to see the emergence of several clubs which has made the competition far more exciting.
“We’ve seen the rise of Brighouse who were unlucky to lose on penalties, Farsley Celtic who have closed the gap on the bigger sides, Harrogate who gave us a cracking game in the quarter final and the return of Leeds United which now means there are several top sides in West Yorkshire which adds to the value of the competition in my opinion.
“But we have to try and fly the flag for the region on Wednesday night and put a new name on the cup otherwise we may as well just change the name to the ‘Bradford Cup’.”
However, the motivation for Preston to win the trophy also lies even deeper than this, with the county cup being a trophy that he has coveted for many recent years.
Therefore, Wednesday’s match will be a huge game for the Vixens manager on a number of different levels.
“Over the last 4 years the County Cup has kinda been the one that got away,” says Preston “I’ve been fortunate enough to win a few league titles and make three cup finals but I’ve never been able to get my hands on the County Cup.
“So on the one hand, I’d definitely love to put that right on Wednesday night but on the other hand I really want this for everyone involved at this club especially my players and staff because I know what it means to them.
“We have an amazing group here who go above and beyond, and although we don’t have many fans the ones we do have are truly loyal so the chance to put smiles back faces after what’s been a tough season is the greatest motivator for me, I just hope we can do it for them.”
The final kicks off at 7.30pm at Fleet Lane on Wednesday evening. With entry at £4.00 for adults and £2.00 for concessions.
Words: Connor Craig-Jackson
Photo: Simon Faulkner