Braces from Eilidh McHattie and Nadia Sopel helped secure the points, as Aberdeen FC Ladies kept pace at the top of the U19s National Performance League with a 5-1 victory over Glasgow Girls.
Report: Craig Carter
The young Dons arrived to their fourth league fixture locked at the summit of the division with Glasgow City, following the recent draw between the two. By contrast, Kieron McAneny’s side were contesting only their second match, following a pair of early season postponements.
Easter weekend brought warm weather to the north east, and accompanying the heat, both teams would have to contend with deceptively windswept conditions. First to set sail was Aberdeen’s Connie Hannah. Bailey Collins did well to keep the long forward ball in the right channel, before turning it back to Hannah, whose drive from the edge box dipped just over the bar.
Moments later, Eilidh McHattie was put through on her approach from the right. As she stretched for the final touch, Glasgow’s Morgan Hay was there on recovery to divert the ball to safety.
At the other end, Glasgow Girls were also looking to probe openings. In their first meaningful foray, steady build up on the left involving Rachel Ryan created space for Nyla Murphy in the centre of the field. A clever through ball looked to have set up Taylor Fisher, but keeper Kirstin Pratt was off her line quickly to gather.
There was no real dominant pattern to the game at the point, with the sides going toe-to-toe in the battle, fully aware of the importance of the opener. Over the next quarter hour, Glasgow appeared to settle into their most concerted attacking rhythm of the period. Emma Lindsay went close, then Pratt had to be alert to turn away another threat from the boot of the lively Taylor Fisher. They were perhaps unlucky not to hit the front too, as Nyla Murphy saw her fine curling shot clip the crossbar.
The scoresheet remained blank, but despite defences standing strong, the ball was flowing with increased tempo, and the chances kept coming. For the Reds, opportunities fell for Emma Rogers and Bailey Collins, before the latter would eventually break the deadlock on 28 minutes.
Amber Carslaw clashed with Connie Hannah at the beginning of the move, which forced Hannah to leave the field. After the injury stoppage, Hannah Innes floated the resulting freekick into the grasp of Louise Donohoe. As the keeper restarted play, Aberdeen’s Leah Jones nipped in to steal possession on the left wing. Her high, swung cross was collected at the far post by Bailey Collins. Back to goal, a neat turn beat the challenge of Rachel Ryan, and she slammed the ball low for 1-0.
Buoyed by their advantage, Aberdeen then doubled their tally on 31 minutes. The captain, Eleanor Cooper was at the heart of this one. Striding forward from right back, she picked out a lovely pass to Eilidh McHattie on the edge of the area. With work still to do, McHattie’s control was pinpoint, and she lifted it, arching the ball into the net.
So a second was here, and the watching crowd would barely have time to draw breath before Glasgow picked themselves up off the canvas and notched a fervent response. Almost immediately from the restart, the ball was punched with precision through the midfield, and timed perfectly for the beautiful carving run of Taylor Fisher, who beat the offside trap, skipped beyond Pratt, and held her nerve to pull one back.
2-1 now, that was three goals inside five minutes, and are you keeping up? Game on.
As the half drew to a close, one final strike would come in from Emma Rogers, finding a half yard of the space in the box on her left foot. The formidable Donohoe would answer the call for Glasgow Girls though, seeing them through to the whistle with the match in the balance.
Half Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 2-1 Glasgow Girls FC
Beyond the break, the script was as action packed as before, with both sides keen to write the next line of the encounter. Aberdeen set about their task with purpose, substitute Nadia Sopel rattling the bar in an early salvo.
Then from a short corner, Bailey Collins presented Emma Rogers with an angle to cross, which was mopped up by the Glasgow defence. As the initial danger looked to have been quashed, and with the visitors pushing out, Mairi Whittingham stood firm. Her square pass found Leah Jones, who pierced it in for Eilidh McHattie to finish. Endeavour and execution. The striker’s second with 52 minutes on the clock.
Now chasing the game, Glasgow Girls were faultless in their persistent energy, continuing to display courage and enterprise in their work. They orchestrated two chances from wide freekicks. First, terrific footwork from Amy Healy brought the set piece for Nyla Murphy. Her delivery was crisp, but could only be nodded down for the safe hands of Pratt. Minutes later, a mirror image from the left, as Rachel Ryan’s ball drifted through wickedly, but beyond the onrushing cluster.
Aberdeen would stretch their advantage beyond the hour mark, as they served up some style with Nadia Sopel on 66. Her first of the game was a measured effort as she slotted home with composure from close range.
Not to be outshone in the sun by McHattie, the tricky midfielder added her second soon after. Again, bright approach play by the Reds put her through one-on-one with Donohoe, and her shot found the target.
Succinct. Successful. Sopel. 5-1.
With the match nearing its conclusion, the industry of Glasgow Girls fashioned a pair of late openings for the visitor’s frontline. Ellen Reid’s snapshot whistled wide for the Dons, who sought another, but the afternoon’s scoring was done.
A spirited display from the Glasgow side, one where they should yield positivity and pride from a performance which exuded no lack of commitment. Another young, talented squad to watch as the season rolls on.
It was Aberdeen’s day though, who produce a glut of goals for the second straight home game, and lead the way in the league so far.
Full Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 5-1 Glasgow Girls FC
Aberdeen FC Ladies: Pratt, Rogers, Collins, Proctor, Whittingham, Hannah, McHattie, Innes, Cooper, Shand, Jones
Substitutes: Sopel, Reid, Henderson, Hewitt, Park, Dalgetty
Glasgow Girls FC: Donohoe, Meharry, Ryan, Cox, Lindsay, Hay, Carslaw, Healy, Murphy, Jolly, Fisher