Forza Sampdoria: From Scotland with Amore

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From the age of six I have had an irrational dislike for Ronald Koeman. I have never met him, I have rarely read any of his interviews and on the face of things he seems no better or worse than your average late 80’s/early 90’s football legend. In fact his place in history as a left sided set piece master should really mean that he is one of my all time favourite players. However it’s those skills at the set-piece that will mean that I will forever secretly hope he fails at whatever he does.

It’s the 20th of May 1992 I’m six years old and starting to become engulfed in the wonder that is professional football. I know by this time that I will have seen my local sides Queen’s Park and Pollok a couple of times as my old man slowly integrates his boy into the Saturday routine but my memories of these trips remain hazy at best. In a somewhat depressingly modern twist of fate my first clear football memory actually comes via the medium of television broadcast, sitting in my parent’s bedroom along with my dad as Ronald Koeman’s 112th minute rocket sent Barcelona on their way to their first ever European Cup.

I’ve watched that goal back a few times before sitting down to write this and whilst I don’t remember it in every detail there are bits that resonate nearly 27 years later. The colours of my memories were purely in black and white so it was strange to see that Barcelona played in orange and Sampdoria in white, although that instantly recognisable chest design was still as clear in my head as it is today. I remember the unmistakable head of Atillo Lombardo shaking in protest and I remembering thinking that the space behind the Wembley goals where the final was being played was massive. I remember the ferocity of Koeman’s strike but I don’t remember how close the Sampdoria players come to charging it down. I don’t remember the tears from nearly every player on the pitch both in joy and despair as the Dutchman ran around in celebration and I didn’t really understand how significant a result it was for that Barcelona side. What I do remember though is that having stayed up later than I ever knowingly had before I was gutted, and so with that an unexpected love affair with Sampdoria had begun.

The following season Football Italia made it’s debut on Channel 4 and whilst a fondness for James Richardson’s morning paper reviews wouldn’t come until I was much older the iconic Sunday lunchtime roar of Golaco is one that, when the males in the household could wrestle control of the only television in the house (remember this was the early 90’s), would fill my ears with joy. Whilst the likes of Gabriel Batistuta at Fiorentina, George Weah at AC Milan and much later Giuseppe Signori during his spell at Bologna would often pique my interest it was the sight of the blue of Sampdoria that would really focus my enthusiasm. Gianluca Vialli may have deserted I Bluccerchiati for The Old Lady of Turin after that final defeat but Roberto Mancini was still there and over those formative years the likes of Atillo Lombardo, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Valdimir Jugovic, Alberigo Evani and Vincenzo Montella earned my support as players came and went. Each one donning that beautiful blue, white, red and black kit.

Oh my, what a kit it is. Whilst I will always remember the letters ERG emblazoned across the player’s chests the top that takes pride of my place amongst my collection is sponsor free. The club crest featuring a sailor on the sleeve and the Genovese shield sitting pride of place in the centre of those red, white and black hoops. The blue body a perfect back drop to it all. My Subbuteo set (again, early nineties folks) had felt incomplete until the day I was bought squad number 398, that of Sampdoria and, rather annoyingly, Dundee who had understandably ripped off Samp’s shirt design for their own such was it’s majesty. I can say with some confidence that the Tayside version was nothing but a pale imitation.

Life and television deals meant that I stopped seeing as much of Sampdoria as I would want to. I still kept my eye in though and my betting account was often boosted in the late 2000’s by the exploits of Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini as they made it to the Champions League play off round in the 2008/09 season. They failed to make the group stages and a couple of seasons later in 2011 they were relegated. I started having fears that this great club would go the way of so many others in Italy have and continue to do but thankfully their stay in Serie B was short lived and the following season they were back regularly on my screen. Led by Mauro Icardi, the latest in a long line of Argentine mavericks including Ariel Ortega and Juan Sebastian Veron to wear the famous blue shirt, they survived relegation beating champions Juventus on the final day of the season along the way.

Since then sustainability has been the watch word aided by a revamped and very successful scouting system. In 2015 Samp qualified for the Europa League after city rivals Genoa couldn’t meet UEFA licensing criteria a sweet moment after their city rivals funeral procession mockery following the 2011 relegation. Mid table is currently the staple though for Marco Giampolo’s side but that doesn’t mean the romance is dead, far from it, and the goalscoring exploits of Italian football’s latest renaissance man 36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella are just one of a number of reasons that will ensure this side will always have a place in my heart.

I sign this ode off with an admission. I’ve never made it to the Stadio Luigi Ferrari. I know one day I will, quite frankly I have to and I hope that when that day comes it’s everything that the six year old boy sitting on his parent’s bed all those years ago in Glasgow hoped it would be.

Forza Sampdoria per sempre!

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SWPL1 – Rangers v Celtic

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An off colour Rangers were made to pay as Celtic produced a dominant display punctuated by three goals in six first half minutes as they cruised to an Old Firm Derby victory at New Tinto Park. Both sides were coming off the back of mixed results in the SWPL Cup last weekend and whilst the home side will be taking their place at Broadwood in a fortnight’s time it was the visitors who set their stall out early as they went on to dominate the majority of the game.

After an even start the game sparked into life on the ten minute mark. Good work from Sarah Ewens and Keeva Keenan on the Celtic left resulted in a ball being whipped into the area which the Rangers defence were able to hook clear. A minute later though the visitors were one up. From the resulting throw in Keenan launched the ball in to the box and with the home defence struggling to properly clear their lines the ball fell to Josi Giard who curled the ball into the corner from the edge of the area and four minutes later the lead was doubled. A left wing corner made its a way to a cluster of players positioned at the far post and from the melee Celtic captain Kelly Clark rose the highest to knock the ball in from a couple of yards out.

Rangers were unable to get a foothold in the game and found themselves 3-0 down with just 17 minutes on the clock. Rangers keeper Jade Baillie came rushing out of her area to deal with a ball but didn’t do enough to clear it leaving Natalie Ross with the opportunity to lob the ball into the empty net from 35 yards out. Rangers may have felt that there was a foul on Baillie in the build up but the Celtic midfielder should be credited with the composure she showed in putting away the long range effort. In attack Rangers were resorting to long range efforts whilst bouncing balls in their own area continued to cause problems.

Four minutes before half time they were handed a chance to get back in the game when a ball cut back in from the touch line was handled by the Celtic defence. Experienced midfielder Clare Gemmell stepped up to take the resulting penalty and whilst it was well struck and seemingly destined for the corner Megan Cunningham in the Celtic goal was able to get down to make the save. Rangers midfielder Chantelle Brown was then quickest to react to the rebound but could only watch as her close range effort crashed off the bottom of Cunningham’s left hand post.

As the game restarted Rangers came out quickly with the always game Brown denied again this time by Cunningham as the winger cut in from the left only for the keeper to push her shot wide and out for a corner. Those moments of Rangers attacking quality would however prove to be fleeting as Celtic were soon 4-0 up. On the 55th minute Kathleen McGovern became the latest Celtic player to benefit from the ball bouncing around the Rangers penalty area to stick a header home. Celtic continued to have chances with Baillie in the Rangers goal denying both Keenan and Ewens respectively but the fourth goal effectively killed the game. Rangers did get on the scoresheet through Brown who, having been unlucky to see her 35 yard effort strike the crossbar a few minutes previous, found herself in the box to nod home an injury time consolation for the home side.

Both teams now head into their next encounters against Glasgow City, in the SWPL Cup and the league respectively, with very different mindsets in what ultimately proved to be a fairly one sided encounter.

Celtic Captain and Goalscorer, Kelly Clark: “Delighted with the result, we were really disappointed with last week but we made sure we started fast and we scored a couple of early goals. Another massive moment was Megan’s penalty save, it wasn’t a bad penalty from Clare but she’s guessed the right way and got a strong wrist to it. I think if we had gone in at half time at 3-1 I would have been disappointed.”

“After a game like that you wish the next game is round the corner but we’ll train really hard and see what Eddie’s got planned for Glasgow City in the next game.”

Rangers Manager, Amy McDonald: “We weren’t good enough particularly in the first and we created our own problems but I have to say that the decision not to give a foul for their third goal has really hampered us. Why that wasn’t given as a free kick is beyond me.”

“It was another hard lesson for us as we need to learn that we have to perform for 90 minutes. We need to be improve and reflect ahead of the semi final against Glasgow City.”

For the full interviews with Kelly Clark and Amy McDonald visit the the Official Scottish Women’s Football Channel.

Rangers: Baillie, McCartney, Gallon, Coakley, Dalgleish, Gemmell, Muir, Napier, Brown, Pullar, Boyce. Subs: Ramsay, Inglis, Donnelly, Sinclair, Watson, O’Hara

Celtic: Cunningham, Keenan, Craig, O’Neill, Black, Clark, Giard, Ross, Hay, Ewens, McGovern. Subs: Farrell, Crosbie, Smart, Donaldson, Hodges.  

SWPL Cup Quarter Final – Rangers v Forfar Farmington

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Rangers booked their place in next month’s SWPL Cup semi-finals as they blew away Forfar Farmington at a gusty New Tinto Park.

After a closely fought encounter in the league just a couple of weeks ago which the home side edged 2-1 there were hopes that this would be an equally tight contest with the added incentive of cup progression at stake. It was Rangers who would come out quickest though and they would go on to dominate the play throughout the first half. Early efforts from Nicole Pullar and Amy Muir failed to trouble Fiona McNicoll in the Farmington goal but on the 17th minute the home sides pressure would pay off. After being played through striker Pullar was brought down in the box with the goal beckoning. The decision to award a penalty was an easy one for referee Gary Hanvidge to make and experienced midfielder Clare Gemmell stepped up to stroke the ball into the bottom left hand corner of McNicoll’s goal.

Rangers continued to press with two longe range efforts from Chantelle Brown as the visitors struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game and with two minutes to go before half time Rangers doubled their lead. A corner into the box from the left caused panic in the Farmington area and from the resulting six yard box scramble the ball fell to defender Hannah Coakley who passed the ball through the crowd and into the bottom of the net. Despite some occasionally scrappy moments from both sides it was a half time lead the hosts fully deserved.

Farmington manager Stevie Baxter would have wanted his side to come out quickly at the start of the second half but his plans were needing rethought not long after the re-start as Rangers made it 3-0 through Pullar. An excellent ball from Carla Boyce played winger Brown into the area who’s well placed cutback allowed the striker to calmly stroke the ball home and effectively end the contest with 48 minutes on the clock. The wind, which had been blowing on and off throughout the game, grew in strength as the game headed towards its end with even the lowest of balls being blown back from whence it came. With clearing the ball becoming more difficult for the Rangers rearguard the Angus side were given a glimmer of hope as striker Danni McGinley pulled one back, volleying in from the edge of the box with twenty minutes to go. This moment was however to prove fleeting and Rangers sealed their victory with a fourth on the 85th minute. Forfar keeper McNicoll was only able to parry substitute Hayley Sinclair’s shot back into the danger zone where striker Boyce was able to put the rebound in and finish the scoring at 4-1 to the Glasgow side.

Rangers were full value for their victory and could have had more if it wasn’t for Fiona McNicoll who made a number of saves throughout the game. For Forfar Farmington there will be disappointment their SWPL Cup campaign has ended in this manner and now focus will be renewed on league business as they travel to face bottom of the table Stirling University next time out.

Rangers defender and goalscorer, Hannah Coakley: “The main thing was to get through and I think the first half performance merited the victory. In the second half the wind pinned us in a bit but I think we did enough to deserve it.”

On next week’s Old Firm: It’s good to bounce back from last week (4-0 defeat to Hibs Ladies) and with the Old Firm next week you can’t beat it so we just need to make sure we are right up for it and take the game to them.”

Rangers Manager, Amy McDonald: “I thought we were fairly dominant throughout the full game and I was really pleased that the players came out in the second half and did what we asked them to do after going in two up. We wanted a reaction from last week and we got one.”

On next week’s Old Firm match: “It will be a really tight match next weekend and it’s good to have a bit of added spice with it being the Old Firm. We need to be organised and disciplined but Celtic will be thinking like that too.”

Forfar Farmington Manager, Stevie Baxter: “We’re really disappointed. We allowed Rangers to dominate every single aspect of the game today, we were not even second to the ball. It’s difficult because the girls are a good bunch and I wouldn’t swap them for anybody but we’re all disappointed and hurting today because we left here after the 2-1 defeat in the league thinking we deserved something but today that wasn’t the case.”

“The girls are good technical players but they didn’t show that today, the conditions were at times horrendous but that’s not an excuse and I’m sure we’ll start putting things right next week.”

FT: Rangers 4-1 Forfar Farmington

Rangers Goals: Gemmell (pen 17), Coakley (43), Pullar (48), Boyce (85)

Forfar Farmington Goal: McGinley (70)

Rangers: Ramsay, Dalgliesh, Coakley, L. Gallon, Muir, Gemmell, O’Hara, Napier, Brown, Pullar, Boyce.

Subs: Baillie, Inglis, J. Gallon, Sinclair, Watson

Forfar Farmington: McNicoll, Cattanach, Paterson, Stewart, Smith, Bruce, Kilcoyne, Cowper, McGinley, McPherson, Brough

Subs: White, Noble, Weber, Doubel, Davidson, Robb.

SWPL2 – Hearts Women v St Johnstone Women

An 87th minute header from substitute Fiona Mearns helped St. Johnstone earn a point as a frantic last fifteen minutes rounded off what had been up until that point a fairly tame SWPL2 encounter at Oriam in Edinburgh.

Both sides came into the game on the back of defeats in a division that is fast shaping up to be one where points can be taken off anyone and at any time. Hearts went into the weekend top of the table despite having suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Dundee United last time out whilst the Perth side were still searching for their first victory of the season following a 2-0 defeat at home to FC Kilmarnock.

It was St. Johnstone who had the first attempts on goal as two long range efforts from midifielder Jade McDonald failed to trouble Emily Mutch in the Hearts goal but gave an early indication that chances would be a at a premium throughout the early stages of this match. St. Johnstone continued to shoot form range without much effect as the half continued whilst Hearts’ main threat came from a series of through balls that lively striker Lauren Evans couldn’t quite get on the end of although a Hearts effort on the half hour did call Saints keeper Rebecca Cameron into action. The best passage of play in the first period came from the visitors. Some intricate play around the edge of the box between Hannah Clark, Ellie-May Cowie and Nicole Carter ended with Clark diverting a shot towards goal that Mutch did well to get down to her left and keep hold of. It was a much needed piece of action to help rouse a healthy crowd in attendance at Oriam but despite the home sides earlier possession advantage it was St. Johnstone who ended the half stronger and a neat corner kick routine saw Rachel Todd turn the ball just wide of Mutch’s near post.

Perhaps aware that the pace needed quickened both sides came out the blocks at the start of the second half. Hearts’ almost immediately took the advantage as a through ball from midfielder Jenny Smith was latched onto by Aisha Maughan however the attacker’s effort was well smothered by Cameron. Hearts continued to be in the ascendency and had their best chance of the game when Ashley Carse played in Evans who after rounding the keeper was denied by Rhiannon Tweedie’s block on the St. Johnstone line.

It looked as if the game was heading for a stalemate but Evans was not to be denied and on the 82nd minute she put the home side ahead. A lobbed ball through from midfielder Rachel Walkingshaw put the striker into the danger area but she still had plenty to do outmuscling and then skipping past both a Saints defender and the goalkeeper before tucking the ball in at the near post with the defence scrambling. It seemed a just reward for Hearts’ more adventurous second half display but just five minutes later Mearns rose highest to get on the end of a right wing corner to scramble home a equaliser and with time ticking down it looked like it might be the visitors who would sneak an unlikely victory. It wasn’t to be though and a point was enough to keep the Jambos top of the SWPL2 pile come the end of the day.

Hearts Goalkeeper Emily Mutch gave her thoughts on the game and her aims for the rest of the season: “I think in the first half we didn’t play well enough but in the second we dominated and we just needed to take our chances. I think we can build on it even though it’s disappointing to only come away with a draw but we can use that to motivate us in our next game.”

“For Hearts we want to finish top of the league and get promoted. Personally I’m working hard as I’d love to be involved with the squad for the upcoming Women’s U19 European Championships that are being held in Scotland.”

Hearts: Mutch, Delworth, Hunter, Walkingshaw, Kids, Carse, Smith, Pagliarulo, Kaney, Evans, Maughan

St Johnstone: Cameron, Milligan, Tweedie, Clark, McDonald, Carter, Shepherd, Todd, Foote, McGowan Cowie

SWPL1 Results

Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

Forfar Farmington 0-7 Glasgow City

Hibernian 4-0 Rangers

Stirling University 0-3 Spartans

SWPL2 Results

FC Kilmarnock 2-0 Glasgow Girls

Hamilton Academical 12-0 Hutchison Vale

Hearts 1-1 St. Johnstone

Partick Thistle 2-1 Dundee United

SWPL: Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

 

 

It was a case of Women of Steel by name, Women of Steel by nature as Celtic were unable to break down a well organised and resolute Motherwell at K Park. The home side went into the game looking to build on last week’s 5-1 victory away to Spartans whilst the visitors were hoping to break a two game losing streak after an impressive first half showing against Hibernian ultimately ended in a 4-0 defeat last week.

The opening exchanges saw Celtic have the majority of the possession but early efforts from Kathleen McGovern and Cheryl McCulloch were blocked by Motherwell’s centre back pairing of Kirsten Rolph and Georgie Rafferty, a feat that was to be repeated throughout the game as Motherwell bodies block shots from all angles throughout the game. Although at times the act of clearing the ball from the box seemed a little chaotic, especially from Keeva Keenan’s first half bouncing long throws, the visitors were still dangerous on the counter and if it wasn’t for a heavy touch when through on goal from Lori Gardner they might have snatched the lead on the 21st minute. It would be Celtic though who would continue to dominate the play and the first clear chance of the game fell to McCulloch on the 26th minute after McGovern knocked a cross from the right into her path, again though the striker was foiled by another diving Motherwell body, this time in the form of a well timed last ditch tackle. Soon after McGovern was again denied by a block from the visiting defence. With half time approaching McCulloch was put through for another opportunity but this time she was thwarted by an on rushing Morgan Hunter in the ‘Well goal who managed to make herself big enough to see the shot pushed by the post.

As the second half started it appeared that a stalemate was inevitable with little action of note until the introduction of Josephine Giard to Celtic’s left-hand side on the 67th minute. She was soon causing problems and six minutes later she won the ball in midfield and proceeded to push forward only for Rolph to again block the ball’s path towards goal. Celtic’s best chance of the game though came with eleven minutes to go, a long range effort from Rachel Donaldson was parried back out into the area by Hunter but as the ball fell to Natalie Ross she could only skew her effort wide. This latest missed opportunity seemed to spur the visitors on with the midfield trio of Rice, Montgomery and McEachran constantly offering options on the counter. On the 86th minute a smart set piece move saw a long range effort from Rafferty deflected over the bar but the home side still had one chance to spurn when substitute Kat Smart’s low cross was pushed wide by McGovern.

In the 90th minute Motherwell could have won it, a speculative looping shot from Gardner went over the head of Celtic keeper Megan Cunningham but it bounced just wide of the far post. Whilst Celtic will feel they created enough chances to win the game the resoluteness of their Lanarkshire visitors, epitomised by the hard work of centre backs Rolph and Rafferty, meant they were more than deserving of a point in this Friday evening encounter.

Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

Celtic: Cunningham, Keenan, Crosbie, McCulloch, Black, Craig, McGovern, Clark, McLaughlin, Ross, Donaldson Subs Used: Giard, Hay, Smart

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Rolph, Rafferty, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner McEachran, Russell, Adams Subs Used: Fyfe

Remaining Fixtures This Weekend

SWPL 1

Stirling University v Spartans KO|12:00 Ochilview Park

Forfar Farmington v Glasgow City KO|13:00 Station Park

Hibernian v Rangers KO|13:00 Ainslie Park

SWPL 2

Partick Thistle v Dundee United KO|12:00 Petershill Park

Hearts v St Johnstone KO|15:30 Oriam National Performance Centre

Hamilton Academical v Hutchison Vale KO|16:00 The Hope CBD Stadium

Kilmarnock v Glasgow Girls KO|16:30 Rugby Park

Assessing Scotland’s Potential New No. 1

With Allan McGregor calling time on his international career ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and with both Craig Gordon and David Marshall now being viewed as yesterday’s men the Scotland national team has entered into a period of uncertainty in relation to what is often viewed as one of our strongest positions. With the three aforementioned goalkeepers now no longer in contention a 123 cap void has been left in Alex McLeish’s latest squad for the qualifiers away to Kazakhstan and San Marino.

In their place, a trio of goalkeepers with only one cap each and an end of season tour of the Americas to their name in the shape of Scott Bain, Jon McLaughlin and Jordan Archer. The recently installed Celtic number one seems primed to have first go at being the national team’s in-goal custodian and so Leading the Line looked at his path to the national side and how he stacks up against the other goalkeepers who have made it into the squad.

Bain’s journey to the national side has not been without it’s peaks and troughs. A youth player at Aberdeen he started to gain attention during a three season spell with Alloa Athletic where he was a key part of a squad that achieved successive promotions with the Wasps as the Clackmannanshire side moved up from the Third Division to the Championship and then maintained their position under the guidance of Paul Hartley.

After Hartley moved to Dundee and just about led the Dark Blues to the Championship title one of his first signings in the following summer was to bring in the highly rated Bain. His 108 game spell at Dens Park started well with his form earning him a call up to the national side in June 2015 after Allan McGregor was ruled out through injury. Over time though his form started on a downward trajectory and soon he fell behind both Jack Hamilton and Elliott Parish in the Dundee pecking order and following a fall out with manager Neil McCann a loan move to Hibernian followed at the start of January 2018. That loan move though was cancelled on the last day of the transfer window with Bain instead moving to Celtic to act as understudy to both Craig Gordon and Dorius De Vries. He went on to make seven appearances in the league as the Parkhead side completed another domestic treble. He started the 2018/19 season as Celtic’s league back up and cup goalkeeper playing in every knockout tie including the final as Celtic won the Betfred Cup. His first league start of the campaign came in November away to Livingston with a home game against Dundee following a month later, in both games Bain kept clean sheets.

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His ascent to the role of Celtic’s number one didn’t take place until after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Rangers in the most recent Old Firm derby of the season  as he replaced Craig Gordon with the 54 time capped international having come under increasing scrutiny for some error strewn performances as well as his inability to fully embrace the style of play Brendan Rodgers was looking to implement. With Bain in goal Celtic went on an eleven game clean sheet run in all competitions and in the 20 games that he’s played this season he has only conceded six goals. Whilst this is impressive it has to be caveated that he has faced less shots on target per game since the turn of the year than his contemporaries in the squad at just 2.3 per game (McLaughlin has faced 4.2 and Archer 3.1). He has the most clean sheets and highest clean sheet percentages of the three goalkeepers to make the squad at 75% and only McLaughlin is slightly ahead of him in terms of save percentage since the turn of the year. The Sunderland keepers 82% just edging Bain’s 81% into first place with Archer’s rate of just 57% suggesting he will very firmly be third choice for the time being.

Whilst his recent rise seems swift when compared with his competitors for the number one jersey he has racked up over 270 appearances across his career and if it wasn’t for losing his way whilst at Dens Park there is a suggestion he would have been in the national side mix a lot sooner. There is also a popular theory that players in form and who are part of successful sides should be allowed to translate that success onto an international stage. Of the three Bain is currently operating at the highest level, at the biggest club and is the only one to have won a major trophy. Games against Kazakhstan and San Marino should allow him to ease his way into the role but for now the number one jersey still remains very much up for grabs.

For more Spanish, Scottish and women’s football commentary, opinions and stats follow @MFPTasty on Twitter and subscribe to Leading the Line.

SWPL: Motherwell 0-4 Hibernian

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A double from Scotland capped midfielder Rachel Small helped Hibernian maintain their place at the top of the SWPL1 after a hard fought win under the roof of the Ravenscraig Sports Centre as players and spectators alike were protected from the elements in this match day three encounter.

The last time these two sides met was in the 2018 Scottish Cup Final where the Women of Steel were overwhelmed 8-0 in one of the most one sided final’s in recent memory. It soon became apparent though that this game would not be as easy for the visitors. An early Jamie-Lee Napier effort aside, that was well stopped by Morgan Hunter, Hibernian struggled to break down a well organised and resolute Motherwell defence. However the pressure started to tell as the first half entered its final few minutes and although the Motherwell defence were able to get back on the line in time to stop Joelle Murray’s 39th minute header they weren’t able to see the half through. The impressive Napier again burst down the left and after putting a dangerous cross into the box the ball fell to the edge of the area where a shot cracked off the underside of the bar only for Small to nod the ball home from the resulting melee from closer range.

Motherwell though after absorbing much of the pressure in the first half started the second period brightly, however the final ball and poor decision making soon cost them. After Napier had another effort with this time the crossbar proving to be her nemesis, she was soon back in the action providing the final pass for Lauren Davidson to give the Hibees a 2-0 lead after 65 minutes again as a result of good work from Small. The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts and Small scored again goal direct from a corner six minutes later before a Kirsten Reilly free kick in the 81st minute rounded out the scoring with Hunter in the Motherwell goal no doubt feeling that she could have done better with both.

Whilst the 4-0 final scoreline may have been harsh on the home side it was also a just reward for the manner in which last year’s runners-up went about their business in maintaining their position at the top of the table. For Motherwell, there was signs of progress and they will no doubt look to bounce back in midweek against Celtic at K Park.

Motherwell 0-4 Hibernian (Small 44 & 71, Davisdon 65, Reilly 81)

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Welsh, Ralph, Rafferty, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner, McEachran, Adams Subs: Hutchison, Russell, Fyfe, McManus, Roberts

Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Hunter, Tweedie, Davidson, Leishman, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Small, Reilly Subs: Williamson, Michie, Cavanagh, Currie, Gallacher, Fish, Morrison

Today’s SWPL1 Results:

Spartans Women 1-5 Celtic Women

Rangers Women 2-1 Forfar Farmington

Glasgow City 5-1 Stirling University

Motherwell Women 0-4 Hibs’ Ladies