Scottish Women’s Cup First Round Catch Up

An audio version of this post can be found by clicking here.

This weekend saw eighteen teams begin their journey to the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final later in the year. Whilst holders Hibernian will be hoping to retain the trophy for a fourth consecutive season, Glasgow City, who like their Edinburgh rivals are eight time winners of the trophy, will be hoping for a first victory since 2015. Could we see the dominance broken with Celtic, Spartans and Motherwell all having taken points against the big two this season whilst Rangers will continue to bring an air of unpredictability to proceedings. If either of these clubs, or perhaps a name that hasn’t even be mentioned yet go all the way it will be the first time since 2002 where a side not named Hibernian or Glasgow City will have claimed the trophy when FC Kilmarnock defeated Glasgow City 5-0 in the final.

These clubs along with their SWPL counterparts will enter the competition at the third round stage with the exception of Dundee United who have been excluded having failed to comply with the 2018 competition rules.

As for this weekend’s first round ties Dunfermline Athletic were the biggest winners as they put thirteen past Stewarton United as the SWFL1 side eased past their SWFL2 rivals at The Fleet Grounds. There was also a big win for Bishopton as they defeated Granite City 9-2 with Jenny McMahon helping herself to four goals. Borders Ladies came out 5-0 winners in their South of Scotland derby against Mid Annandale Ladies at Volunteer Park in Hawick whilst the other side from the region Annan Athletic were forced to concede their first round tie away to Stonehaven.

SWFL 1 North leaders Aberdeen were comfortable 4-0 victors away to SWFL2 Morton thanks to goals from Ogilivie, Hutchison, Forrest and Shore and they will be joined in round two by divisional rivals Raith Rovers and Montrose. The Kirkcaldy side currently bottom of the SWFL 1 North table were 3-2 winners at home to Rutherglen whilst Montrose edged a nine goal thriller in beating SWFL1 Cup finalists Renfrew 5-4 at Links Park and BSC Glasgow shocked hosts Ayr United 2-1.

Meanwhile at Airdrie Leisure Centre it was the hosts who got the better of Livingston based visitors, Murieston United. In an open first half the sides shared four goals in the opening twenty minutes but after the break the home side started to pull away with a hat trick performance from striker Megan Murray being key to the North Lanarkshire side running out 5-2 victors after what had started out an even encounter.

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Airdrie Ladies Head Coach Jim Morton: “First half we were a wee bit off the pace but the two teams made it a cracking first half. Second half we came out did what we are good at, ball on the floor in what was a cracking game of football.”

On expectations for the rest of the campaign: “I think tis a transitional period for Airdrie and they’ve just missed on promotion two years in the row and I think if we can progress another one round or two rounds it will be good.”

Hat trick hero, Airdrie Striker, Megan Murray: “We played well and were good off the ball and working as a team, two sloppy goals and but we built from it. As long as we play football the way we want to play football, on the deck and pass it about we’ll be happy. That’s me top of the table for goalscoring so chuffed with that.”

SSE Scottish Women’s Cup First Round Results

Airdrie 5-2 Murieston United

Dunfermline Athletic 13-0 Stewarton United

Morton 0-4 Aberdeen FC Women

Bishopton 9-2 Granite City Ladies

Borders Ladies 5-0 Mid Annandale Ladies

Ayr United 1-2 BSC Glasgow

Montrose 5-4 Renfrew

Raith Rovers Women 3-2 Rutherglen

Stonehaven 3-0 Annan Athletic Ladies (walkover)

East Kilbride Thistle Ladies C-C Edinburgh Caledonia FC

The winning sides from round one will be joined in round two by the remaining SWFL cubs who had received a bye in the first round.

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SWPL2 – FC Kilmarnock v Hamilton Academical

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A 75th minute goal from substitute Dionne Brown was enough to send Hamilton Academical to the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL2 table after a closely fought Easter Sunday encounter at a baking Rugby Park. The conditions were such that the referee called for water breaks in each half and it would be these conditions coupled with a Killie schedule that saw them playing three games in a week that would prove to be key as the match went on.

The first half was not one for the purists and whilst it was competitive neither side could quite seize the initiative and chances were at a premium. An early long-range free kick  from Accies midfielder Chloe Muir which did enough to sting the palms of Lauren McGregor in the Kilmarnock goal was the only action of note in the opening half hour. As the half progressed home side winger Kirsty Munro was starting to have some joy. First her ball across the six yard box on the 37th minute was primed for a forward’s foot to get on to but unfortunately for the home side none were forthcoming. Munro continued to probe though and some nice interplay with captain Lisa Swanson presented Monica Harty with a chance but that was unable to convert. Hamilton had chances of their own though. A powerful run and drive from Jade Lindsay after she dispossessed Swanson in midfield produced a smart save from Lauren McGregor whilst on the stroke of half time neat work again from Lindsay saw a Kirstie McIntosh effort stopped once more by the keeper.

The second half continued to prove that this game was to maintain its status as an even contest and it would be Kilmarnock that would have the first chance of the half after good work from Swanson put team-mate Clare Docherty through but Hamilton keeper Lauren Grant was there to snuff out the danger. As the half wore on though the visitors, with their ability to freshen things up, started to take more control of the game. After a McIntosh effort slid just by the Kilmarnock post having been played through by substitute Amy Bulloch their pressure paid off a few minutes later. Good work from McIntosh on the Hamilton right saw her cross make its way to the back post and, after missing everyone in the area, it fell to MT Gardiner on the opposite side who jinked past one defender before putting the ball across to Dionne Brown who slid home what would turn out to be the winner.

Knowing that victory could send them to the top of the table the visitors pressed for a second but were unable to capitalise on their advantage and it was the home side who nearly snatched a point in injury time with Amy Burrows free kick from the edge of the area just going wide.

Whilst the Lanarkshire side took home the three points this was another encounter that went to show that anything is possible in the tightly contested SWPL2 this season.

Hamilton Manager Gary Doctor: “We should have managed it better towards the last few minutes of the game but it’s all about wins now. Literally every game has an impact and it was massive just to win. We’re now in a position where it’s in our own hands now.”

Goalscorer Dionne Brown: “I’m just happy to get the three points the girls and coaches put a lot of effort into training so delighted with the result. We’re in this league to win it so coming into this and taking away the three points is a massive thing for us.”

FC Kilmarnock Manager Stewart Hall: “Absolutely gutted, we played very well in the first half but in the second half we started to tire which can happen when you play three games in a week. Some of the girls have played all three 90 minutes (against St. Johnstone and Partick Thistle too) adn we’ve also had jig about our formation.

We’re not playing badly in these games and we’re not going to ask the girls to do anything different other than putting the ball in the back of the net.”

FC Kilmarnock: McGregor, Neil, Murphy, Docherty, Burrows, Robinson, Munro, Docherty, Fleming, Harty, Swanson,

Subs: Little, McCulloch, Otto

Hamilton Academical: Grant, McWhirter, Fraser, Mcintosh, Anderson, Sturrock, Fitzsimmons, Muir, Quigley, Gardner, Lindsay

Subs: Quinn, McCann, Brown, Kane, Bulloch, Ross

Goal: Brown (’75)

An audio version of this report including all interviews can be found here.

SWPL1 – Motherwell v Rangers

Two goals deep into second half injury time saw Rangers rescue a point in dramatic fashion as a depleted Motherwell side were unable to hold out for victory with seven minutes remaining of this SWPL1 clash at Ravenscraig.

Both teams had come into this encounter on the back of a poor recent run of results and the home side were hampered before a ball was kicked as they were only able to list one fully fit substitute. Visiting head coach Amy McDonald made seven changes to the side that was defeated 5-1 by Glasgow City in the SWPL Cup Semi Final last time out with a number of experienced faces coming into the starting line up. It was the Women of Steel that started the quickest though and, after a long range effort from Chelsea McEachran was juggled to safety by Rangers goalkeeper Jade Baillie, they took the lead with 15 minutes on the clock. Good work down the left by Lori Gardner, who was dangerous throughout the first half, saw her cut inside and hit a shot that was deflected on route to the goal. In the resulting race for the ball it was Mhairi Fyfe who managed to gain control to poke the ball past Baillie.

Two minutes later Motherwell found themselves two nil up. Gardner was again at the centre of things as she picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and, with no pressure forthcoming from the Rangers defence, hit a dipping long range effort that made its way into the top right hand corner of the net. It was a high quality strike from a player who was continuing to cause problems with her willing running and trickery despite not being 100% fit herself.

Rangers eventually awoke from their early slumber and started putting pressure on the Motherwell goal but were resorted to long range efforts up until the stroke of half time where an error from goalkeeper Morgan Hunter should have given the visitors a way back in. Her fumble fell to the feet of striker Carla Boyce but she dwelled on the ball for too long with her eventual shot being blocked thanks to a diving Kirsten Rolph in the ‘Well defence.

Rangers made two changes at half time in attempt to find the breakthrough but it was Donald Jennow’s side who would extend their lead on the hour mark. Right midfielder Sarah Crilly found herself in yards of space on the edge of the Rangers area and maintained her composure to steer the ball into the top left hand corver. That seemed to be game over but with twenty minutes to go Rangers ability to freshen things up started to tell as fatigue set in for the hosts. With pressure building McDonald rolled the dice one final time bringing on Holly Napier and newly crowned Rangers Women’s Player of the Year Amy Muir and both players would play a part as Rangers completed a remarkable comeback. Firstly on the 83rd minute Muir was the recipient of a long cross field pass on the corner of the Motherwell area and, after taking the ball down she took a couple of strides before rifling an angled drive past Hunter. It would have been easy for the visitors to accept that as nothing but a consolation but with the home players looking increasingly weary the momentum had shifted in the Light Blues favour.

The likelihood of a comeback was increased further when Motherwell keeper Hunter was unable to get enough of a hand to Jade Gallon’s low long range drive with the midfielders 92nd minute strike reducing Rangers deficit to one with time still on the clock. The fresh legs of Muir had the home defence reeling and it would be her near post corner in the 94th minute that would fall to fellow substitute Napier who was able to get free and snatch what had seemed a highly unlikely point for the Glasgow side.

Motherwell will be left to rue a lack of player availability through injury and suspension especially after being 3-0 up with half an hour left to play but conversely Rangers Head Coach McDonald will have been pleased to see her side eventually take advantage of their hosts tiredness during what has been a challenging few weeks for her side.

Full Time: Motherwell 3-3 Rangers

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Rolph, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner, McEachran, Roberts, Fyfe, Adams

Subs: McManus, MacLeod, Liddell.

Goals: Fyfe (’15), Gardner (’17), Crilly (’60)

Rangers: Baillie, Inglis, Donnelly, Watson, Brown, Gemmell, Robertson, Sinclair, J. Gallon, McCartney, Boyce.

Subs: Ramsay, Coakley, Dalgliesh, Pullar, Napier, Muir, L. Gallon

Goals: Muir (’83), J. Gallon (’90+2), Napier (’90+4)

Robert Prytz: From Malmo to Maybole

Scottish junior football has always existed in a footballing micro-climate all of its own and for those that know it there is an affection felt that is perhaps far greater than in any other grade in football. It’s a common, but understandable misconception, that this is a level reserved solely for the youths. Whilst the path from the juniors to future football fortunes is considerably harder than it once was the likes of Brig O’Lea, Showpark and Dunterlie are just a few of the places that have acted as starting points for a professional football career. Of course, you may still be lucky enough to see a future star of tomorrow but part of the joy of football at this level is the melting pot of talents that grace pitches up and down the country every weekend. From your stereotypical shouty hard man defender who can only kick in one direction to the midfield maestro who’s all touch and no fitness, to the winger who can run fast but can’t cross a ball or to the prospect who’s been spat out from the senior set up having not quite made the grade. Perhaps though, above all of these, it is the re-emergence of faces from Scottish football’s past and the quest to be the first one to uncover their identity that are some of the most favoured characters in the junior game.

One of these knowledge quests was required at the turn of the millennium with the arrival of Robert Prytz to the junior scene. The 1986 Swedish Footballer of the Year and a European Cup runner up with Malmo was familiar with the nuances of Scottish football after a two and half year spell in the early 80’s with Glasgow giants Rangers. As well as having spells in his homeland with IFK Gothenburg and the aforementioned Malmo he also spent time playing in Germany, Italy and Switzerland before returning to Scotland to seemingly wind down his career. He made no more than fleeting appearances for Kilmarnock, Dumbarton, Cowdenbeath and East Fife before he turned up in Glasgow’s south side at Newlandsfield Park home to junior heavyweights Pollok in late 1998. He was 38 by this point and at 13 I was developing a burgeoning curiosity about all things relating to football. The news that a former Rangers player and Sweden international had signed for my local non-league side had certainly got my intention and I was excited to see exactly what wonders and trickery he would bring. My excitement soon turned to slight befuddlement as on Saturday 3rd October 1998 I watched a small, podgy man with a curly mullet enter the field of play at Benburb’s now demolished Tinto Park, situated just a few hundred metres from Ibrox where he had made his debut for Rangers sixteen years earlier.

My befuddlement was not shared with the elders around me as they pointed out with no little enthusiasm, “That’s him, that’s Robert Prytz.” Now strength and conditioning in the late nineties was lightyears away from what it has come to be today but this little red faced man currently walking his away across the pitch surely couldn’t be the same player that people had spent the days leading up to the game feeling all nostalgic about, could he? The game, a 0-0 draw went by with little incident and the Swede would make his home debut in a first round Scottish Junior Cup tie against local rivals Arthurlie in front of a crowd of 2,173 the following week but, as the 98/99 season continued, it seemed likely that Pollok would be just another brief stop on his farewell tour. His season ended having made a respectable 22 appearances, starting 17 times and coming off the bench on a further five occasions scoring only once at home to Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in a December league encounter.

When researching this piece I reached out to the messageboards, always an interesting insight to fan opinion of a player or specific era at a club, and the feeling was one of surprise when Prytz signed on again for the following campaign. It would turn out to be a shrewd decision to re-sign the now 39 year old as with a full pre-season under his belt the Swede would become a key player as Pollok claimed double cup success under the guidance of goalkeeper turned manager Ronnie Lowrie.

In the Sectional League Cup Final that season Prytz played as he and his teammates went on to defeat Shotts Bon Accord 4-1 in the final at Firhill. He didn’t get on the scoresheet that night but his touch and vision appeared to be sharper than it had ever been in a Pollok jersey and he would go on to play 38 times that season scoring 16 goals, 8 of which came from the penalty spot with fans joking that he would always send the goalkeeper the wrong way. Another notable performance came against Renfrew in the league where a free kick double sent the ‘Lok on their way to a victory as they finished 2nd in the table, jus missing out on the title to Glasgow rivals Benburb. One of his final appearances in a Pollok shirt came in the West of Scotland Cup Final, one of junior football’s showpiece occasions, where he was part of a side who came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1. His deep corner finding the head of Alex Eadie allowing the tall striker to knock home the winner. His goals and creativity had helped bring renewed success to one of junior football’s leading lights and at the age of 40 his former Rangers teammate Ally Dawson signed him for Hamilton Academical where he played nine time and scored twice as The Accies went on to win the Scottish Third Division title.

Hamilton would prove to be his last stop before he ultimately reached the decision to retire having participated in everything from European Cup finals at the Olympiastadion in Berlin to suffering Scottish Cup upsets at The Ladywell Stadium in Maybole. He continues to be a familiar face in his native Sweden having been a contestant on the Swedish version of sports-themed gameshow Superstars and has often been quoted as still having a fondness for Scotland and even in his retirement he would continue to play football in the Glasgow area.

Ask any Pollok fan about Robert Prytz, and in particular about his performances during that double cup winning 99/00 season and they will tell tales of a player who never had to leave the centre circle to dictate the play and of unerring accuracy from set pieces the likes of which had never been seen at the club before or since. A man viewed as a consummate professional on the pitch and a nice one off of it. By the end of that 99/00 season even I, a teenager at the height of his cynicism could appreciate how blessed we all were to see this curly haired Swedish man don the black and white stripes and stroll his way across the pitches of Scottish junior football.

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!

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.