Aberdeen FC Ladies maintained their perfect start to the National Performance League season, with a commanding 6-0 victory at home to Jeanfield Swifts.
Report: Craig Carter
The young Reds came into this one off the back of victory on the road at Hibernian last week, whilst the visitors were contesting their opening match of the new campaign.
Kaimhill was the venue, the match switched in light of the weekend’s inclement conditions.
It was the Perth side who posed the first notable threat. Excellent footwork down the left by Jeanfield’s Leah Flora Sidey opened up an angle for her to strike from the edge of the box, stinging the gloves of keeper Kirsten Pratt who parried smartly.
The afternoon’s harsh wind was a constant factor on the movement of the ball. In the early going, both sides were working hard to get it down and settle into their passing rhythm.
By the quarter hour, Aberdeen had fashioned a flurry of their own chances, as they sought the initiative.
Nadia Sopel and Hannah Innes both tested Claire Nellies in the Swifts net with shots, the latter driven just over following neat interchange between Bailey Collins and Ellie Shand in the set up. A measure of control was beginning to be asserted.
On 23, the breakthrough arrived. The hosts had been in on goal moments earlier, as Nellies pushed another Sopel effort wide. However, from the resulting corner, Hannah Innes’ whipped delivery was not dealt with by Jeanfield, evading the defence to fall kindly for an unmarked Sopel, who notched for 1-0.
Four minutes later, Bailey Collin’s saw her right footed effort dip just over the bar as she was picked out from the right by Eleanor Cooper. Eleanor was tireless in her running from fullback throughout, contributing to many attacks.
At the other end, Jeanfield continued to probe, awaiting their chance to break on the counter. With thirty played, Rachel Wolecki was close to slipping in Eilidh Davies, before Kaitlyn Doig produced Swifts best moment of the period. With Aberdeen failing to complete the clearance, Doig picked up the ball from around 30 yards, and wrapped it audaciously against the post.
The rattle of woodwork seemed to send good vibrations through the Dons performance, as minutes later, a stylish reply doubled their lead. Bailey Collins orchestrating the space from just outside the box, in what was almost a repeat of her earlier work. This time though, the shot was unleashed with complete conviction, crashing into the back of the net.
Aberdeen at this point were pulsating. Innes, Sopel and a Cooper header from a corner could have landed a third goal, before it did indeed eventually arrive.
Again, a Hannah Innes corner was fizzed in with interest. No touch was required here, simply an injection of venom on the ball, and it was three at the interval.
HT: Aberdeen FC Ladies 3-0 Jeanfield Swifts
Swifts, to their credit, began the second half with purpose. They won an early corner, developed through their industry down the left, which yielded little, but was a laudable sign of their intent to continue to contribute going forward.
Aberdeen though, were singing in the rain, and appeared in no mood for a contest. On 47, a fine forward pass put Bailey Collins in a race with the onrushing Claire Nellies. Rounding the keeper, Collins held her nerve to roll in number four, and the Reds were pulling away.
As we approached the hour, Jeanfield tried to build a route back. Rachel Wolecki, Demi McHarg and Alexandra Robson were all terrific for spells in the midfield, battling with full effort in the density of bodies. On a few occasions, only the final pass was eluding them, as they foraged for a foothold.
Aberdeen had further chances through Collins, in connection with substitute Leah Jones, well marshalled by Swifts’ Abi Buchanan; whilst the visitors called Kirsten Pratt into action with efforts from Sidey and their replacement Emma Shipley.
It was certainly Jeanfield’s most frequent period of pressure to this point, Eilidh Davies and Rachel Wolecki watching two long-range strikes come within inches of the target. Aberdeen responded with more changes, introducing Rachael Hewitt and Georgia Park in place of Connie Hannah and Sopel. Eilidh McHattie also entered the fray.
Then it was five on 77. Gradually built down their left, Emma Rogers controlled neatly, before prodding the ball under Nellies from close range. A handful of goals for Aberdeen now, and a big hand from the watching crowd.
Still piling on the pressure, Cooper drilled one low and hard, well matched by Nellies. McHattie or Hewitt may have also added their names to the score sheet, had a corner routine worked as planned, but both kept finding Nellies in inspired form. A committed display from the talented stopper to keep the result down.
We would, nevertheless, see another goal to round off a powerful performance from the Dons. Bailey Collins at the heart of things again, winning the ball back, chasing down the cause from a Swifts throw. She then fed the pass through for Leah Jones to score the sixth.
Lots of positives for Aberdeen then. A big win in the end which sees them have the early advantage over Hearts at the summit of the National Performance League.
Despite today’s outcome, Jeanfield can take encouragement from a match where they never gave up until the last, and they’ll compete again another day.
FT: Aberdeen FC Ladies 6-0 Jeanfield Swifts
Aberdeen FC Ladies: Pratt, Rogers, Collins, Proctor, Broadrick, Whittingham, Sopel, Hannah, Innes, Cooper, Shand
Substitutes: Reid, McHattie, Henderson, Hewitt, Duncan, Park, Jones
Jeanfield Swifts: Nellies, Laing, Young, Dakers, Coffield, Davies, Robson, Wolecki, Sidey, McHarg, Doig
Substitutes: Buchanan, Shipley, Allen