Photo by Tommy Hughes.
Glasgow City are just one point away from their 14th consecutive Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 title after a comfortable 6-2 victory over Spartans at Ainslie Park.
The reigning champions, who have now clinched qualification for next season’s Champions League, need only a draw on the final day at home to Rangers after they made it 13 games unbeaten.
They will enter with a marginal goal difference of three ahead of lone challengers Celtic, who thrashed Forfar Farmington 10-0. They can pip City to the title with a win away to Motherwell coupled with a City defeat and overcoming the goal difference.
City were up by four against Spartans at the break through goals from Ode Fulutudilu, Hayley Lauder, Niamh Farrelly and a Priscila Chinchilla penalty.
Spartans scored twice in the second half through Becky Galbraith and substitute Katie Reilly, but City immediately responded each time with substitutes Aoife Colvill and Sharon Wojcik finding the net.
Spartans remain in fourth ahead of Hibernian, who cut the gap to just two points following their 2-0 Edinburgh derby win over Hearts.
Following Celtic’s win, City needed plenty of goals and wasted no time in pursuing them. Spartans’ defence had to clear Fulutudilu’s tap-in off the line in the opening minute and Farrelly’s header a minute later. It was third-time lucky as Fulutudilu tapped home Chinchilla’s header from a cross by Joanne Love after four minutes.
Julia Molin’s chance from the edge of the box was turned over by Spartans goalkeeper Alicia Yates, who later kept out two Jenna Clark headers from successive corners, whilst Janine van Wyk’s long-range effort failed to test the busy shot-stopper.
City doubled the lead when a mistake by Rebecca Galbraith fell to Chinchilla, who passed to Love, who squared up Lauder to curl the ball past Yates for the 3000th goal in City’s history.
Farrelly made up for her earlier effort by heading home captain Leanne Ross’ well-delivered corner.
Fulutudilu couldn’t get onto the end of two crosses, the latter having to be turned away by Yates and Lauder was unlucky not to double her tally, but her effort bounced off the crossbar.
Spartans then had a break, but Caley Gibb’s effort was well wide. On the stroke of halftime, Sarah Clelland was judged to have pushed Chinchilla in the box, who converted from the ensuing spot-kick.
On the hour mark, Lauder’s header from a Ross corner went just wide. Ross then suffered a knee knock in a collision with Simone McMahon, leading to a lengthy stoppage. City fans will be encouraged that she was able to walk off under her own power.
The stoppage clearly affected City as Spartans substitute Reilly scored with her first touch, heading in from captain Alana Marshall’s free-kick. But City soon restored their four-goal lead as Chinchilla won the ball and picked out substitute Nicole Robertson. Her initial shot was blocked and fellow substitute Colvill scored the rebound.
Galbraith then had the onrushing City goalkeeper Lee Alexander beat, but her shot clipped the post. Galbraith wouldn’t be denied the second time though, managing to get the ball around Alexander and into the net. But once again, City responded within a minute. Chinchilla’s ball into the box found Ross’ replacement Wojcik, who fired low past Yates.
City were denied what appeared to be a penalty late on when Robertson seemed to have won the ball and was taken out by Yates. The referee’s decision left head coach Scott Booth fuming, with it being his team’s best chance to add another crucial goal.
Spartans: Yates, Clelland, S McMahon (Reilly 69′), Beveridge, McAlonie, Douglas (Mason 38′), Marshall, Reynolds, Gibb (Frew 83′), McCafferty (D McMahon 69′), Galbraith; Denholm, Hamilton, Graham.
Glasgow City: Alexander, Lauder (Wojcik 67′), Van Wyk, Love, Fulutudilu (Colvill 58′), Clark, Davidson (Robertson 67′), Ross (Foley 67′), Farrelly (Fulton 82′), Molin, Chinchilla; Clachers, Crichton.