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)

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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

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