Match report by Mark Gordon. Photo via @DundeeUnitedWFC on Twitter.
Dundee United Women were crowned champions of Scottish Women’s Football League 1 North as they beat Cove Rangers Ladies 7-2, in front of 423 spectators at Tannadice on Sunday. The home-side new going into the game that a point would be enough to win the league but they left nothing to chance with a resounding victory.
Neve Guthrie got the scoring underway after just 11 minutes. Guthrie played the ball out to Jade McLaren on the right, McLaren then returned the favour by squaring across the edge of the 18-yard box and it was coolly finished to give United the lead.
United controlled the early stages with Chloe Robertson and Stacey McFadyen in wide areas joining Guthrie and Laurie Denney through the middle as an attacking front-four. Despite the Tangerines’ dominance it was the south-Aberdeen side that grabbed the second goal of the game.
A great run by Francesca Ogilvie on the Cove left forced a corner from the United defence. The United rear-guard coped with the first corner but only at the concession of another. The second Cove corner caused the home defence more problems as Samantha McDonald headed home an equaliser.
Cove’s parity lasted only two minutes as the title-chasing home side went in front again. Robertson on the right-side played in Denney who slotted the ball under Kayley Middleton in the Cove goal for an instant response.
United continued to control the game and they got rewarded for their dominance with a third goal on 37 minutes. An in-swinging corner by Philippa McCall on the right-hand side was met at the near post by Denney who stooped bravely to head home her second of the match.
The visitors looked rattled and the home-side were effectively out of sight as they added a fourth in the 40th minute. The goal came from a corner again, this delivered deep to the back post by Jade McLaren. Megan Burns was the most alert in the area as she forced the ball over the line to give her side a 4-1 half-time lead.
Cove looked to have come out fighting in the second half as Chelsey Lownie and Naomi Lind combined to set up McDonald. The striker failed to grab her second of the match though as her shot went over the bar, just minutes later United killed off any chance of a comeback.
McLaren fired in a 25-yard rocket to give her the goal which her personal performance deserved. It was a powerful finish from the midfielder ending any hopes that the visitors may have had of getting back into the game.
Cove did get themselves the consolation goal that their second half improvement deserved after 73-minutes. Hannah Clews pulling a goal back with a neat finish in a congested penalty area.
It was only a brief reprieve for the visitors though as United put their foot on the accelerator in the closing stages. Substitute Natalie Cromar sent a header just over the crossbar with 13-minutes remaining as United looked to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Cromar again threatened, after good link-up play with fellow substitute Ashton Brackin, the United striker’s effort drew a good save from Middleton in the Cove goal. Cromar wasn’t to be denied though and her efforts were rewarded with just five minutes remaining.
It was another substitute, Catriona Caine, who delivered a ball into the box after some good work on the right. The cross found Cromar who finally got herself on the scoresheet with the home-sides sixth of the match.
There was still time for one more goal as the game entered stoppage-time and United got closer to lifting the league trophy. Laurie Denney was played in over the top of the Cove defence and Middleton raced off her line block Denney as she looked for a hat-trick.
The ball rebounded off Middleton but, unfortunately for her, it fell to Brackin who had composure to curl the ball in to the unattended Cove net from 20-yards. It was a great finish by Brackin and it was a fitting way to end what had been a dominant performance by United.
Celebrations greeted the referee’s full-time whistle as the United players and staff raced onto the field to celebrate their league victory. To their credit, the Cove Rangers players and staff stayed out on the field to applaud their opponents as they collected their medals and lifted the SWFL 1 North trophy.
Mark Gordon spoke to Dundee United WFC Midfielder, Jade McLaren: