City's title defence gets off to a winning start

Glasgow City began their SWPL title defence with a hard-fought 3-1 win over newly-promoted side, Queens Park, at Petershill Park this afternoon.

An early goal by Caitlin O’Hara got the visitors off to the perfect start, but a Jo Love strike, an Eilish McSorley header and a sublime piece of individual skill by substitute, Suzanne Lappin, secured the three points for the Scottish Champions.

In a bright opening to the match, Queens Park were first to create an opportunity. A superb set-piece delivery from Rebecca Bisland was headed just wide by Mhari Lyle. Glasgow City then took control. Leanne Ross shot wide and Jo Love had an effort from just inside the box well saved by Lauren Grant in the Queens Park goal.  Abbi Grant was next to try her luck from distance, but her well-struck shot was brilliantly tipped round the post by the Queens keeper as the home side began to turn the screw.

Against the run of play, the away side took a shock lead after 18 minutes. Lee Alexander did brilliantly to thwart Queens, but the ball broke to former Glasgow City youth, Caitlin O’Hara, who showed great composure as she fired the ball into the unguarded net from the edge of the box. 

For the remainder of the first half, City dominated proceedings as they pushed for the elusive equaliser. They had a succession of corners and enjoyed most of the territorial advantage, but were unable to create a clear chance until injury time when Alyshia Walker’s rasping effort crashed against the crossbar and away to safety.

In search of the equaliser, City began the second half on the front foot.  McCulloch sent an effort just over the bar before a scramble in the box saw the keeper make saves from Love, Ross and Walker before Denise O’Sullivan put the ball wide. The pressure was unrelenting, and it seemed to be only a matter of time before City made their dominance pay, but Queens had other ideas.

Valentina Mazzoni evaded the City offside trap and was clean through on goal, but she was superbly denied by goalkeeper, Alexander. Moments later the same player was through on goal again, but her effort drifted just wide of the keeper’s left-hand post. Queens Park would pay dearly for these missed opportunities.

City were finally rewarded for their hard work after 57 minutes when a Leanne Ross corner was cleared to Jo Love and her well-struck shot from 25 yards found the net. The relief around Petershill Park was palpable, and City never looked back. O’Sullivan was denied by inspired keeper Grant before McSorley headed home a near-post corner to give the home side the advantage.

The Scottish Champions continued to pepper the Queens goal with long distance efforts and crosses, but it was not until the 82nd minute that the points were finally secured – and what a goal it was. Lappin brilliantly brought the ball under control before unleashing an unstoppable volley that gave the keeper no chance. It was a goal fit to grace any game.

The remaining few minutes past without significant incident as City got their league campaign off to the perfect start. The home side, though still not at full strength, survived a few heart-stopping moments against a plucky and determined Queens Park side, but the three points, in the end, were well deserved.

Commenting on the win, City Assistant First Team Coach Donald Jennow said, “First game of the season and thankfully the first three points on the board.

“Our preparation was not ideal for a first competitive outing of the season and I think we looked tired as a result. Queens Park set up well against us and had chances to extend their 1-0 advantage. The second half we changed things about a bit and looked much more of a threat. That coupled with an increase in the speed of our play allowed us to score the goals we needed. From now we have a more settled routine and hopefully that shows on the pitch.”

Glasgow City
: Alexander, McSorley, Love, O’Sullivan, Walker, Docherty, McCulloch, Black, Ross (c), Grant and Whyte.
Subs: Hamilton (GK), Dalziel, Lappin and Nelson

Queens Park: Grant, Hamilton, Jaycock, Lyle, Mallon, McCluskey, Montoya, Palmer, Mazzoni, O’Hara and Bisland.
Subs: Lindsay, Pender, Patterson and Williamson.

Referee: M. Denne.

Player of the Match: Jo Love

Match report by Graham Semple.

Pictures by Andy Buist.