Glasgow City head for Lucky No. 13
It has been thirty-eight months since Glasgow City last lost an SWPL game. Spartans were their conquerors that June day as they handed the current champions a 3-0 defeat. City have only dropped points on four other occasion since then, with two of those instances happening last season during draws with Sunday’s opponents Hibernian. Last season the Leith side came closer than any side previously had to ending the dominance of the Glasgow side but they now find themselves eight points behind the leaders having played a game more.
Both sides had strengthened before the season return but the quality that Scotland internationals Rachel McLauchlan and Eilish McSorley bring to Scott Booth’s squad continue to demonstrate the drawing power dominance possesses. On Sunday it would be a double from league top goal scorer Kirsty Howat that would see the home side seal a 2-1 victory as they continued their astonishing record, all but sealing a 13th consecutive title in the process. For Hibernian attention now turns to Slovenia with the aim of joining City in the UEFA Women’s Champions League knockout stages before they begin, what they hope will be yet another successful Scottish Cup tilt.
The Green Brigade Bring the Noise
For regular fans of the SWPL the viewing experience is somewhat more serene than for those that follow the men’s game. Attendances were one of the off-pitch focuses as the league returned and whilst there was indeed a bumper crowd at Petershill Park it would be dwarfed by the numbers at K Park where Celtic defeated Rangers 3-1 to move clear into second. It was an impressive display from Eddie Wolecki Black’s side, particularly in the first half with goals from Kathleen McGovern, Sarah Ewens and Kelly Clark ensuring a victory that the Celtic coach thought could have been bigger.
The main terrace chatter though was around the addition of The Green Brigade to those watching in East Kilbride. It was revealed after the game that none of the players knew that they would be cheered on by the most boisterous element of the Celtic support and it was clear that they fed off of it as much as they were in awe of this unexpected spectacle.
That said their appearance wasn’t met with universal approval with some fans, for whom the women’s game is viewed as a safer and more family friendly environment than its male counterpart, concerned about the language and tone of the support provided. For what it’s worth, and from what I observed from afar, there appeared to be an understanding that the content of the chorus needed to be amended for the surrounding audience as the game progressed and there is no doubting that their presence added something that many a women’s game still lacks, atmosphere. Whether or not the tone that atmosphere took is acceptable is very much a conversation to be had. As the game grows it will be interesting to see how those in power handle this new type of follower to the game and how they can embrace it without alienating all those who have kept it going all this time.
Stalemate at Station Park
It’s the result that nobody wants in a relegation battle, but when sides are not in the winning habit it is an outcome that becomes all the more likely as both Forfar Farmington and Stirling University remained in the relegation mix after a 0-0 draw at Station Park. A result which kept the Angus side three points ahead of the Green Machine.
New Farmington coach Nathan Flight has been handed a kind draw in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup this weekend with the chance for a moral boosting win against SWFL2 SE/Central Stenhousemuir whilst Uni have a free week as third round opponents Hibernian go on their European sojourn before a league and cup double header against the Edinburgh side. It is around this time of the season that Craig Beveridge’s squad is boosted by the return of some familiar faces as the new academic year begins and so for both the race to avoid the drop is still very much on.
Hamilton move top of SWPL2
It’s taken just one week since season return for the leadership of the SWPL2 table to change hands with Hamilton Academical moving top on goal difference following a 2-0 win away to Dundee United as goals from substitutes Teigan McCann and Chloe Muir sealed victory. Whilst the impact off the bench was key for head coach Gary Doctor you can’t talk about this game without referencing the outrageous nutmeg by another substitute, Hamilton’s Ellie Kane, which of course you can view here.
Hamilton’s ascension to the top was facilitated by Hearts 1-1 draw at home to FC Kilmarnock. The Ayrshire side took the lead early on through a Colette Fleming strike after the Hearts defence repeatedly failed to clear their lines with the Jambos earning a point through a Lauren Hall header.
Patrick Thistle defeated St. Johnstone 1-0 at Petershill Park in a stereotypically tight SWPL2 encounter to move within two points of the leaders whilst Hutchison Vale’s woes continued as they lost 12-0 at home to Glasgow Girls.
FC Kilmarnock go global
Prior to earning a point from their trip to Edinburgh on Sunday, FC Kilmarnock announced the arrival of Hong Kong international midfielder Ching-Hang Chun Ching from Swansea City Ladies. She came on as a substitute to make her debut at Oriam and adds an international flavour to a league that is primarily filled with home-grown talent.
Chun who became the first female Hong Kong player to take the field professionally in Europe when she signed for the Welsh side has clearly taken to life at Rugby Park as revealed by her comments via the club’s Twitter feed where she referenced her love for “the competitiveness and the laughs.”
It certainly gained interest in the press area at Petershill Park on Sunday when the Twitter timelines updated but can be looked as yet another sign of the growing game in Scotland with international talent now willing to come and give Scotland a try.
Remember you can follow the latest flights of fancy from Leading the Line on Twitter @MFPTasty.