There was a truncated fixture schedule this weekend as Storm Ciara took hold with just three SWPL Cup and four SWF Championships clashes braving the elements as the new Scottish Women’s football season got off to a somewhat chaotic start.
Here at Leading the Line, Chris Marshall is back to review
three two takeaways from this weekend’s action along with some additional thoughts on the news that former Hibernian Head Coach Grant Scott has joined champions Glasgow City as assistant to old foe Scott Booth.
An early fixture headache
The events of Storm Ciara should be put down as a freak event. A case can be made for a shorter summer break to allow the start of the season to be pushed a little closer to spring but anybody who has lived in Scotland for any length of time will know that seasons don’t apply and snow, rain and howling gales are known to appear at almost any time.
Whilst the SWF Championships fixtures should be easy enough to slide in over the course of the season the five abandoned clashes in the SWPL Cup are a more gnarly ball of string to untangle. With the remaining SWPL Cup matches and the opening weekend of the SWPL season scheduled for the forthcoming three weeks, the next available date is March 8th when sides are scheduled to break for the international window. Whilst representation in Shelley Kerr’s senior squad will be minimal from the sides currently competing in the competition the U19 squad is primarily made up of domestically sourced players, a number of whom are regular first team players. A re-launched competition without it’s biggest talents almost instantly makes a step towards diminishing its significance.
In Group’s B & C the rearranging of cancelled fixtures should have a straightforward solution, although the distances involved in some of those fixtures, in particular Stirling University v Aberdeen and Hamilton Academical v Dundee United, will make midweek games unlikely it is in Group D where real intrigue lies. As Forfar Farmington were defeating Kilmarnock 2-0 in Angus the fixture between Motherwell and Partick Thistle was called off 90 minutes before kick off and will have to be made up before the final round of group fixtures to ensure that the final match day goes off as fairly as planned.
Clubs will also have the headache of re-arranging pitch, coach and player availability and the SWF as competition organisers should be on hand to help facilitate the re-scheduling.
A Glasgow Derby of Differing Fortunes
Whilst the weather hampered Groups B-D, in Group A both Spartans v St. Johnstone and Celtic v Glasgow Women went ahead. In the early kick off a late Becky Galbraith strike sealed a victory for Debbie McCulloch’s side in blustery conditions over SWPL2 Saints whilst in East Kilbride there was a shock result as Celtic were held to a goalless draw by a young but well organised Glasgow Women side.
Craig Joyce’s SWPL2 outfit were full value for the point earned as opposing number Fran Alonso was unable to find the formula to break down their east end opposition as despite their domination in possession the home side seemed to lack tempo and imagination in and around the Women penalty area. New signing from Durham, Lisa Robertson was busy in looking for possession and fellow winter acquisition it Summer Green who added some much needed movement to the home side attack after coming on at half time but even then the visitors were rarely troubled.
Alonso spoke of the need to juggle his hybrid squad of pro and semi-pro players and that balancing those elements was still a work in progress. The Spaniard was without some first team regulars and also suggested post-match that new faces were on the way but with group leaders Spartans and an SWPL opener against Glasgow City on the horizon the former Lewes coach will have to move quickly in managing his new surroundings starting next week away to St. Johnstone.
The Mega Powers Unite
I like the wrasslin’. I make no apologies for that, and as I headed back to Glasgow’s south side from Edinburgh, grateful that I was in the passengers seat and not the drivers one, the iconography associated with late 80’s tandem The Mega Powers came rushing into my head as news that former Hibernian Head Coach Grant Scott had agreed to sign on as number two to former foe Scott Booth at Glasgow City reached my fingertips.
At time of writing I hold the defending champions as favourites to make it a remarkable 14-in-a-row but that statement would come with greater emphasis should a couple of reinforcements be added to a squad that is high in quality but tight on numbers. The addition of Scott though is a variable that could equally reassure.
The duo have been the dominant coaching forces in Scotland since the latter took the Hibernian helm in 2018 with both holding titles aloft above the others heads at various points over the last two and a half years. Scott led the Edinburgh side to multiple cup triumphs whilst Booth has continued City’s Bruno Sammartino-like stranglehold on the title whilst also claiming a first Scottish Cup trophy since 2015 in a classic encounter at Tynecastle towards the end of 2019.
Both have also led their sides in the UEFA Women’s Champions League knockout stages and, with City set to face German giants Wolfsburg in the quarter finals next month, Scott’s recent European exploits will provide a useful sounding board ahead of an Andre the Giant sized challenge.
Anyone who has spent time in the pairs company will know their rivalry was never as bitter as the one between Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage once was and for fans of the Glasgow side it’s a pairing that will generate renewed hope as they look to fight off an Old Firm tag team with bankroll that the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase would be proud of.
Those same fans will also hope that a break down similar to that which saw Savage eventually turn on Hogan doesn’t come to the surface, although at this point I think I need to tap out as I’ve clearly taken this wrestling schtick too far.
You can listen to the latest Leading the Line podcast with Chris (@MFPTasty) and Campbell Finlayson (@Campbell6_2) reviewing the weekend’s action right here.
Remember you can follow Leading the Line on Twitter, @LeadingtheLine. Here there will be live insight from the games, comments on the breaking stories from the world of women’s football news as well as early sight of what will be coming via the podcast (available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud and all good podcast outlets) and on the website. It’s right good!