By Tim Oliver
The opening goal of the 2017 SWPL season took just five minutes, and then, there were eight exciting games that showed that we are in for an extraordinary eight months.
After the opening round, Glasgow City lead the SWPL 1 after beating Stirling University 7-0 whilst it is Forfar Farmington who are the early SWPL 2 leaders after defeating East Fife 4-1.
Glasgow City 7-0 Stirling University
The 2016 SWPL 1 champions Glasgow City started their defence with a mightily impressive 7-0 win over Stirling University.
Glasgow City had the honour of scoring the opening goal of the #SWPL17 season when Leanne Ross’ cross was headed in by forward Savannah Jordan.
Noelle Murray opened her Glasgow City account in the 31st minute when she reacted to Stirling’s keeper Logan who had parried her initial shot.
Four minutes into the second half, City’s captain Leanne Ross picked out the bottom corner with a fierce shot, before Jordan scored her second goal of the game in the 55th minute with a superb finish.
Stirling’s Beth McKay came close with a free-kick, but City’s keeper Lee Alexander reacted to make a superb save. But it was City who looked the likelier to score and they came close when Savannah McCarrthy’s header hit the crossbar.
Then in the 73rd minute, it was 5-0. Lovely interplay between Brogan Hay and Murray allowed Brogan Hay to cross the ball into the box, where Jordan fired home to secure her second hat-trick in her second game for Glasgow City.
Keeva Keenan’s half-volley made it 6-0 before Kodie Hay’s stunning strike completed the scoring.
League leaders Glasgow City travel to Celtic next Sunday, whilst bottom-placed Stirling host the team one place above them, Rangers.
Aberdeen 2-2 Spartans
We’ve squeezed in some highlights from Sunday’s SWPL opener v Aberdeen. A 2-2 draw that had lots of talking points. pic.twitter.com/yvGGJn0Kia
— Spartans FC Women (@spartansfcwomen) March 13, 2017
Aberdeen and Spartans played out an entertaining game at Aberdeen’s temporary home Milton Park.
Despite Aberdeen having a few good early chances with Spartans’ keeper Jo Viollaz saving Hannah Stewart’s and Donna Paterson’s efforts, plus Megan Reid’s shot hitting the crossbar, it was Spartans who took the lead. Carla Boyce’s shot was parried by Aberdeen’s keeper Emily Mutch, and Colette Cavanagh reacted to fire the ball into the net. The Edinburgh side doubled their lead when Louise Mason’s cross picked out Boyce, and her header beat Mutch and flew into the back of the net.
Aberdeen introduced Lauren Gordon as they looked to find a way back into the game, and they won a penalty when Stewart was tripped in the box. She got up and took the spot-kick, beating Viollaz by placing the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Later on, Aberdeen won another penalty when Jo Fraser was fouled, and once again Stewart stepped up. This time, she picked out the bottom-left corner to equalise.
The home side could have secured a winner but Samantha McDonald’s effort hit the woodwork.
Fourth-placed Aberdeen travel to Edinburgh on Sunday to play Hibernian, whilst fifth-placed Spartans travel to SWPL 2 champions Hamilton Academical.
Hamilton Academical 1-2 Celtic
Celtic began their SWPL 1 season with a win over Hamilton Academical, however, the result will give the SWPL 2 champions confidence they can avoid finishing bottom at the end of the season.
Both of Celtic’s goals were assisted by midfielder Heather Richards. Celtic took the lead in the 31st minute when Richards’ cross picked out Courtney Whyte whose header gave Hamilton’s debutante keeper Carys Hopkins no chance.
In the 63rd minute, Celtic doubled their lead when Richards’ cross was turned into the net by a Hamilton defender.
Hamilton pulled a goal back in the 75th minute when their 2016 top scorer Lori Gardner beat Celtic’s keeper Megan Cunnigham with a delightful chip. Celtic then needed Cunningham to make a great save to deny Laura Gallen from close range to secure all three points.
Both teams are at home next Sunday with sixth-placed Hamilton hosting Spartans whilst Celtic host the leaders Glasgow City.
Rangers 2-4 Hibernian
— Hibernian Ladies (@HibsLadies) March 13, 2017
Hibernian won their opening SWPL 1 match 4-2, but Rangers launched a comeback late in the second half.
Like in last season’s corresponding fixture, it was Abi Harrison who scored Hibs’ opener. A long ball from the back sent her through on goal and she beat the keeper. Three minutes later, Hibs had doubled their advantage through Lucy Graham’s header.
It could have been 3-0 soon after when Caroline Heron’s shot found the back of the net, but she was ruled offside.
In the 30th minute, it was eventually 3-0. Emma Brownlie’s free-kick found Siobhan Hunter at the far post and her header gave the Rangers’ keeper no chance.
Just before half-time, Lizzie Arnot’s effort found the back of the net but for the second time, the assistant’s flag came to Rangers’ rescue.
Hibs kept on looking for the fourth goal in the second half, and it took until the 71st minute for them to make it 4-0. Chelsea Cornet cut the ball back to Graham whose shot picked out the top corner.
But in the 79th minute, Rangers pulled a goal back through their captain Claire Gemmell’s stunning free-kick. Two minutes later, the home side pulled back another goal when Claire Adams’ through-ball sent Hannah Robertson towards goal, and she beat Hibs’ keeper Jenna Fife with a composed finish.
Second-placed Hibernian host Aberdeen at their new home Ainslie Park on Sunday whilst seventh-placed Rangers travel through to the bottom-placed side Stirling University.
Forfar Farmington 4-1 East Fife
Forfar Farmington defeated East Fife 4-1 in a game where both teams were making their debut in the SWPL 2. Forfar were relegated from the top flight whilst East Fife were promoted from the SWFL Division One North.
The home side took the lead in the fifth minute. Robyn Smith’s cross was flicked down by Julia Scott and Kirsty Deans was there to volley the ball into the net. It would take until the 50th minute for Forfar to double their lead with Scott once again providing the assist as her corner was cleverly finished by Laura Parsley.
East Fife pulled a goal back in the 65th minute through McAllister but there would be no comeback. Julia Scott made it a hat-trick of assists, with Smith converting her cross.
And then, in the 88th minute, Forfar got their fourth under a solo run was converted by Cheryl Kilcoyne.
Forfar top the table and travel to Jeanfield next Sunday whilst seventh-placed East Fife host Hearts.
Hearts 3-1 Buchan
Hearts began their 2017 SWPL 2 season with a 3-1 victory over Buchan, but for a long time, it looked like it the match would end in a draw, as it did in the respective game last season.
The Edinburgh side took the lead through Brogan Anderson, but Buchan equalised through Leanne Reid.
However, Hearts would secure all three points as Holly Aitchison and Ashley Carse scored late on to secure all three points.
Third-placed Hearts now travel to East Fife next Sunday whilst sixth-placed Buchan host Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale, a team that Buchan took seven points off last season.
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale 1-2 Glasgow Girls
— EUHV Womens Football (@EUHVFootball) March 14, 2017
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale’s debut competitive game at their new ground Peffermill Playing Fields as they were beaten by a clinical Glasgow Girls.
This was the opening game of the 2016 SWPL 2 season last season, and whilst there were no red cards this time (when Hutchie Vale won 3-1), it was still an enthralling encounter which showed that Glagsow Girls will be fighting for the title again this season.
Just before half-time, Glasgow Girls took the lead. A slick passing move allowed Kirsty McDonald to pass to Fury in the box, and she picked out the bottom-left corner with a smart finish.
Then Glasgow Girls doubled their lead when McDonald picked up the ball, ran into space and from 30-yards put, picked out the top corner with a sublime finish.
The home side had a lot of the ball in the closing stages, but they will be disappointed with how long it took to fully test Glasgow Girls’ young keeper. Deep into second half stoppage time, Karen Hanson’s speculative shot was fumbled behind for a corner by Rae, and from that, they pulled a goal back. The corner picked out Anna Hume and she was left unmarked to head the ball into the net.
However, as soon as Glasgow Girls restarted the game, the referee Liza MacKenzie blew for full-time.
On Sunday fifth-placed EUHV travel up to Buchan whilst fourth-placed Glasgow Girls host Motherwell.
Motherwell 0-3 Jeanfield Swifts
— Jeanfield Girls FC (@JeanfieldGirls) March 14, 2017
Motherwell’s debut in the SWPL 2 ended in a 3-0 defeat to Jeanfield Swifts.
The away side took the lead with the 2016 league’s top scorer Danni McGinley finding the back of the net in just the second minute with a composed finished.
Neither side would add to the scoring until early in the second half when once again McGinley found the back of the net from a shot inside the box. Three minutes later, Jeanfield made it 3-0 when Eilidh McIntyre cleverly lobbed the ball into the far corner, which her effort coming from the edge of the box.
Motherwell finished the day in eighth place, and play Glasgow Girls away next Sunday whilst Jeanfield Swifts host Forfar Farmington.