With Glasgow City on course to capture a 13th consecutive SWPL1 title focus this weekend turned to SWPL2 and the top of the table clash between Hamilton Academical and Heart of Midlothian. There was also a ton of derbies, including a five goal thriller on Tayside, whilst off the field Rangers used Sunday morning to announce some serious moves to bolster their squad for the remainder of the season.
These are three takeaway’s from this weekend’s SWPL action.
The SWPL2 title is going to the wire
Before departing for the Fountain of Youth Stadium on Sunday afternoon I had watched the FA Women’s Super League clash between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge. It was a fairly entertaining game with an early Beth England howitzer being enough to separate the sides come full time in Lanarkshire though there was no doubt in my mind where the women’s game of the weekend had been as the top of the table clash between Hamilton Accies and Hearts lived up to the hype.
Both sides changed their approach from previous weeks but it would be home side that would dominate the first half with their high energy and pressing as they deservedly went in at the interval 1-0 up after a high quality MT Gardiner strike.
In the second half though the visitors came to the party. Hearts coach Andy Enwood tweaked his side’s set up at the interval, making them more direct with the adjusted set-up certainly looked more concise in thought from the terraces. This new found directness saw Danni McGinley equalise within a minute of the restart before Nichola Sturrock’s free kick was then cancelled out by an excellent long range effort from Madeline Brill-Edwards. Hearts had new loan-signing from Glasgow City Murron Cunningham in their side, who should add even more quality to a strong SWPL2 squad, but it was another case of a slow start nearly costing the Edinburgh side.
At Stamford Bridge a crowd of over 24,000 was in attendance and whilst we are a long way from crowds of that size in the SWPL, a crowd of 200+ is a turnout that should be praised and just goes to show that the appeal of properly competitive football with high stakes is enduring, irrespective of the level.
A five goal thriller in Tayside
Whilst Hibernian defeated Spartans 4-0 in the Edinburgh Derby and Glasgow Girls were denting Partick Thistle’s SWPL2 title hopes by defeating the Jags 2-0 at Petershill Park the derby of the day was happening further north in a Tayside encounter, that on the face of things, had very little on line with both Dundee United and St. Johnstone safe in SWPL2 for another season.
Tammy Lee-Harkin, who would go on to have a huge influence on the game, opened the scoring with a sensational free kick after just three minutes before she saw a 42nd minute penalty hit both posts add bounce to safety. Laurie Ross then doubled the lead before Saints mounted a late comeback to bring it back to 2-2 thanks to a Rachel Todd double including a penalty of their own. It would be Harkin though who would have the final say as she rounded off a ten pass move to put the ball past Rebecca Cameron to give the home side victory. It’s been a handy debut season in SWPL2 for the Tangerines who have handed more than 60 starts to players aged 16 or less so far this campaign. With safety assured it will be interesting to see how players such as former SWPL Player or the Month, Neve Guthrie continue to progress.
Rangers Making Moves
It seems like a week doesn’t go by at the moment without the professionalism of Scottish women’s football cropping up as a point of discussion. This Sunday was no different as Rangers announced the signings of Lisa Martinez, Daina Bourma and Emma Brownlie.
Naturally eyebrows raised at the capture of Martinez and Bourma. Left back Martinez was a starting member of the French U19 side that won the European Championships this summer in Scotland whilst fellow Frenchwoman Bourma can name Europe’s current dominating force, Olympique Lyonnais, as one of her former sides, however it is the capture of Brownlie that really stands out.
The former Hibs and Celtic defender arrives on a free transfer having most recently played for Everton and a record of five appearances during an eight month spell suggest that Rangers are getting a player in need of a fresh start. Brownlie brings quality to a Rangers squad that is still some way short of what is needed to challenge the dominance of a Glasgow City side that they lost 4-0 to this weekend but in her interview with Rangers TV she has clearly been impressed by her surroundings and has been convinced of the long term vision.
The nature of the Brownlie deal hasn’t currently been revealed but, with Celtic still dragging their heels despite announcing professionalism before the start of this current season, Gregory Vignal’s side could be the first of Glasgow’s big two footballing institutions to pull the trigger in the offering of professional contracts at a time when clubs north of the border are trying to stem the flow south.
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