SWPL1 – Rangers v Hibernian

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For an audio version of this report click here.

A clinical first half performance from Hibernian ensured they would go into the mid-season break at the head of the chasing pack after a 6-0 victory against Rangers at New Tinto Park in Sunday afternoon’s Scottish Building Society SWPL1 encounter.

The home side had come into the game on the back of victories over Stirling University and Forfar Farmington which ensured they would be 4th in the table going into the summer but had yet to take points of off the three sides above them in the table whilst the visitors who had scored seven in midweek against Motherwell at Peffermill knew that a victory would be key when it came to keeping in touch with league leaders Glasgow City.

Hibernian started quickly and their first opportunity came with just two minutes on the clock as a Jamie Lee Napier cross found Cailin Michie in the box who saw her close range effort crash off the bar but they didn’t have long to wait for the opener as on the fourth minute the deadlock was broken. Midfielder Kirsty Morrison managed to keep the ball in near the touchline before before cutting inside and putting her shot past 17-year-old Chloe Nicolson in the Rangers goal. The Edinburgh side’s pressure would continue, however the opportunity to double their lead didn’t arrive until the 28th minute. After a fine save from Nicolson the ball bounced back out to Kirsten Reilly who’s effort fizzed towards Rangers midfielder Jade Gallon with Gallon adjudged to have handled the ball from close range. As the debate continued around the award it was left to Siobhan Hunter to step up and put Hibernian 2-0 to the good, her penalty just out of reach of the diving Nicolson. With Rangers trying to regroup the Ainslie Park side took their chance to extend the lead to three before the interval, after Napier’s close range effort cracked off the near post it was Michie who was quickest to react to the rebound and virtually guarantee the three points for her side. For Rangers it was a half of few chances, with an Amy Muir effort the only real attempt at troubling World Cup bound Jenna Fife in the Hibs goal.

Amy McDonald’s side did come out after the break with purpose though and would enjoy the majority of the possession and territory for the opening 25 minutes of the half although chances were at a premium with Holly Napier’s 15 yard strike the best they could muster. It looked as if Hibernian were happy to sit on the lead as both sides made changes as the half progressed but three goals in the last nine minutes added an emphatic note to the scoreline, a note that was perhaps a touch harsh given the Light Blues re-emergence into the game after the interval. On the 81st minute substitute Shannon Leishman saw her initial effort stopped by Nicolson but it would again be a Hibs attacker reacting quicker than the Rangers’ defence as she tucked home the fourth. An 88th minute header from substitute Amy Gallacher and an injury time strike from Jamie Lee Napier rounded out the scoring as Hibernian ended a productive week that started with an SWPL Cup triumph and ended with 13 goals and six points from two league matches. As for Rangers, it was a familiar story with moments of control and quality juxtaposed with mental lapses and lack of composure in front of goal.

Hibernian Head Coach, Grant Scott: “It’s been a smashing week, I wasn’t expecting that goal bounce today but we got in early and that helps to open up the opposition. Anything less than the three points today we would have been devastated going into the break and the fact we’ve won the cup and these two games after that blip, and I genuinely think it was a blip (against Celtic), is great.

“We’ll make a couple of plans to freshen up the squad, we’ll train a bit and give the players a bit of break before getting them back for end of June ahead of the Champions League qualifying section.”

Rangers Head Coach, Amy McDonald: “We were disappointed to go in 3-0 at half time and I thought the penalty was really soft and I think the standards of the officials need to improve. I thought we did well to rattle Hibs after half time but to lose those three goals at the end of the game was pretty sore to take. I think we’re too nice at times and we need to go and challenge them, we had chances which we didn’t take. It’s such small margins for us now, it’s an area we need to improve, but it’s the hardest bit too improve.

(On the first half of the season) Really disappointed. We’ve shown that we can play good football and complete against good players but then there’s lapses in concentration which makes it really frustrating.”

FT: Rangers 0-6 Hibernian

Goals Hibernian: Morrison (4′), Hunter (p,28′), Michie (34′), Leishman (81′), Gallacher (89′), Napier (90+3′)

Rangers: Nicolson, Dalgliesh, Coakley, Watson, Muir, Gemmell, J. Gallon, Robertson, Brown, Napier, Boyce. Subs: Honeyman, Inglis, McQuillan, Donnelly, McCartney, Hay, Ramsay.

Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Hunter, Michie, McGregor, Cavanagh, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Morrison, Reilly. Subs: Tweedie, Davidson, Currie, Leishman, Gallacher, Gibb.

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SWPL1 – Rangers v Stirling University

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Rangers bounced back from last week’s humbling at the hands of league leaders Glasgow City to see off bottom of the table Stirling University and move up to fourth in the Scottish Building Society SWPL1 standings as goals from Carla Boyce, Chantelle Brown, Jade Gallon and youngster Siobhan Honeyman saw the home side mirror the 4-1 scoreline that had saw them claim three points against the same opposition earlier this season.

It looked like Amy McDonald’s side were set fair for a straightforward afternoon when they took the lead with barely a minute on the clock. A long ball from centre back Chelsie Watson made its way through to Carla Boyce who took a couple of touches before finishing clinically past Rebecca Sjogerud. Despite dominating the ball Rangers though couldn’t build on their advantage and on the 13 minute mark Uni found themselves level. After good work on the right hand side from Gemma Mason her ball into the area found Scotland u19 international Naomi Welch, who superbly chested the ball down before striking a sumptuous half volley past a diving Jade Baillie. Despite the equaliser Rangers dominance of the ball and territory continued but Welch was continuing to provide some much needed menace to the Stirling attack, as was evidenced just a couple of minutes after the equaliser. A slip from Rangers defender Lauren Gallon allowed the youngster through but this time she was only able to push her effort just wide. Rangers, despite their dominance, continued to struggle to create chances with Sarah Robertson fashioning their best before the half was over, cutting in from the right only to see her near post effort well saved by Sjogerud.

Keen to push home her side’s advantage McDonald introduced Chantelle Brown for Robertson whilst youngster Chloe Nicolson replaced Baillie in goal and both would play a key role as Rangers went in search of a second. Efforts from Brown, Jade Gallon and the impressive Amy Muir all were repelled as the Light Blue attacks continued to come wave after wave but it would be Stirling University that would nearly take a shock lead.  Firstly Welch again found herself through on goal although this time her angled effort hit the far post before a ball through the middle played in Eva Rule who with just teenager Nicolson to beat was unable to get her shot past the youngster who stood up well to save. The Greens would rue those missed chances as just a minute later Rangers would finally have the lead their pressure merited. A deep cross from Muir on the Rangers left was scrambled out of the area only for it to fall to substitute Brown with her shot from just inside the box finding the corner.

Amy McDonald introduced two more youngsters into the fray with the Rangers pressure continuing and both Rosie McQuillan and Siobhan Honeyman would play parts in the third and fourth goals that would seal the three points for the side from Govan. In the 85th minute Jade Gallon won the ball in midfield and proceeded to drive towards the Stirling goal, with McQuillan in support she played the ball to the young forward who quickly then returned it to Gallon who lifted it over Sjogerud to seal the three points for the home side. An exquisite long range finish from Honeyman a minute later rounded off the scoring after neat lay off play from Gallon as the victory sees Rangers move up the table again after what had been a dominant, if sometimes frustrating performance, with the precautionary withdrawals of Lauren Gallon and Amy Muir the only point of concern. For the visitors their search for a first win of the season continues although head coach Craig Beveridge will be pleased with how well his team hung in under the seige like pressure from their hosts.

Rangers midfielder and goal scorer, Jade Gallon: “We made it difficult for ourselves, first half we had plenty of possession but felt like we weren’t clinical enough in the final third but I thought second half was much better, we controlled the game again and then took our chances, eventually.”

“I’m always looking for three points, happy to score and get an assist but for me it’s always about the three points.”

Rangers Head Coach Amy McDonald: “To go one nil up in the first half so early you think we can push and go and get another goal but obviously then they score from what I think was their only shot in the first half.”

“Real praise has to go to Chloe Nicolson, Siobhan Honeyman and Rosie McQuillan who have come in today from our youth squads, Chloe made an excellent save, Siobhan scored a goal and Rosie made a good contribution so we’ll take it.”

On the potential injuries to Amy Muir and Lauren Gallon: “Lauren felt something in her knee and we are always kind of cautious with knees. Amy is feeling a bit tight and we’re fortunate now we’re moving into a period with a break with an opportunity for the players to rest and recover. It’s an education piece for us as well as before the players might have played on and we would have lost them for even longer.”

Rangers: Baillie, Muir, L.Gallon, Watson, Dalgliesh, Gemmell, Napier, J, Gallon, Robertson, McCartney, Boyce

Subs: Coakley, Honeyman, McQuillan, Brown, Nicolson

Goals: Boyce (‘1), Brown (’71), J. Gallon (’87), Honeyman (’86)

Stirling University: Sjogerud, Simpson, Murphy, Falconer, Connor, Coppel, Kim, Fulton, Mason, Welch

Subs: Kerr, Lyons, Grey

Goal: Welch (’13)

 

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