SILSDEN AFC Ladies’ manager Liam Marsh is thrilled with the commitment and enthusiasm at the club, which will only increase after they reached the West Riding County Women’s Football League Shield final.

They beat Farsley Celtic Juniors Reserves 1-0 on Sunday in the semis, thanks to a late winner from popular captain Sophie Fagan-Gaines.

That means they will face either Middleton Athletic or Ossett United Reserves in the final, which is due to be held at the West Riding FA’s headquarters in Woodlesford, south east Leeds, on Bank Holiday Friday (May 8) at 11am.

The team celebrated wildly after beating Farsley, with Marsh believing that was fully earned.

He said: “It’s been a difficult time over the last six months, because we’ve lost a few of our best players and the results in the league haven’t been good (Silsden are bottom of the WRCWFL Premier Division).

“We have six Under-18s, who all played on Sunday. They’re young and lacking fear, but they’ve not had it easy stepping up to the challenge.

“We have six or seven games left to survive relegation and this cup final will just give them a spring in their step as it’s something to look forward to.

“We have 20 to 22 that come down to training each week and they’re playing for places now on a Sunday. If they play well, they could get in for that final.

“It is exciting, because County Cup trophies are the biggest things to win at this level.

“It’s a big deal, playing on the big, county pitch with stands. It’s a good day and we’re looking forward to it.”

The growing numbers at Silsden Ladies that Marsh mentioned are a great source of pleasure to him, and he compared the situation favourably to the men’s game.

He said: “I’ve come from being involved in the men’s game at this level for around 10 or 15 years and had some success there.

“But I stepped down at the start of this season as there was a lack of commitment. My previous club had two teams but we were struggling to get even 15 down to train.

“But the Women’s Super League has given the sport more notoriety (for girls) and we have 22 that come down to train at Silsden, along with two that are not old enough to play yet.

“We have a good little team and we've got a junior side coming through as well. There's growing interest and we want to have as many players as we can at the club.”

Marsh has only been at the club for a couple of months, and paid tribute to the previous managerial duo, Gareth Wilson and Laura Fagan-Gaines, saying they had “worked their socks off” to get the team to where it is today and that the final appearance is “certainly not all down to me”.

Another person who has been at the club a fair bit longer than Marsh is the aforementioned Sophie Fagan-Gaines.

Happy to pay tribute to his skipper, Marsh said: “Sophie is a major influence, as his her sister (and teammate) Bethany, who prefers to be known as ‘Bob’.

“They’re not old, but they are experienced, and Sophie, as captain, just drives us on. It was typical that she was the one that popped up with the winner on Sunday.”