Gers Fightback Earns Worthy Draw
Report: Craig Carter
Sunday 15th September
Rangers became only the second team to take a point off Aberdeen in the U19 National Performance League, as second half strikes from Hannah Robinson and Hannah Jordan cancelled out an early Dons lead.
Aberdeen, as they have been so often this campaign, were quick off the blocks. Just two minutes gone when Leah Jones set up Bailey Collins for the opener. A mix up in the visitors’ defence, keeper Jasmine McPhie’s clearance ricocheting back off Collins and into the net.
Awoken into their stride by the goal, Rangers settled in the following minutes, grounding the ball and producing some fine passing football on the Kaimhill synthetics. Forward Reanna Bates was matched by Kirstin Pratt as the striker tried to round off their first attack. Meanwhile Collins and Nadia Sopel were denied by intelligent defending, Ellie Vernal in particular with an important shutout, using her strength well.
Despite no real early rhythm to the play, with the wind a constant harassment, Aberdeen would find themselves two in front before the quarter hour. They built a period of pressure, and Hannah Innes picked it up on the right side of the area, customarily excellent with her delivery, she may have mishit this one, sending the trajectory spiralling over McPhie. Erin Henderson was in first on the goal line to claim a tap in, with Collins also in the vicinity.
By no means had Rangers been poor, but they now had to dig in and find a route back. Eilidh Martin tested Pratt’s handling when her wide freekick almost dipped under the crossbar.
Pushing the fullbacks on was imperative, Rangers bringing their pressing game ten yards further up the pitch, and starting to pin Aberdeen back.
The danger in doing so is the possible susceptibility to a counter. Sopel was almost in off a short back pass, and Ellen Reid put a header wide from a corner.
Rangers’ next drive brought their first clear shot on target. Emma Watson with her right foot, after her own burrowing work outside the area, and Bates was close to snapping up any rebound. Not this time.
Watson herself was at the pinnacle of Rangers’ forays forward, several times making arching, daring runs behind and through the lines, even when she did not receive the ball. This demonstrated a dedicated willingness to stretch the opponent, test their thinking, and was a clear reason behind what makes her, and consequently teammates around her, standout with attacking intent.
Emma, who would be substituted shortly after half time, was also a top performer for the Ibrox side’s U15s when they visited the north on Cup duty back in May. Young stars are rising all the time. A couple of scrambles from corners ensued for both sides, but the final chance of note in thr half fell the way of Hannah Robinson, who did very well to control a bobbling ball with a smart half-volley which threatened the near post. More on her later.
Half Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 2-0 Rangers
Mairi Whittingham had a header diverted off the line early in the period, before Henderson put the follow up wide, in search of her second.
Hannah Innes sent Kayleigh Traynor through on goal as Aberdeen continued to set about their early work with purpose. Abbie McKay was picking up scraps for Rangers and was almost on the end of some moves. Just the final ball was missing.
Rangers were working the ball nicely through the centre of the park, as Jodi McLeary and Kirsty MacLean took up the mantle as ball carriers for the team on a few occasions, showing calm and composure. Their trio, in combination with Hannah Robinson, was notable from middle to front, as the visitors went up a gear.
They would have a reward on 58. This one constructed down the left, Eilidh Martin exchanging possession with Robinson. A neat one-two with McKay prised open some space, and Robinson curled the ball beyond the reach of Pratt. The type of strike where the player uses the defender’s body shape as a marker to guide the finish, it was inch perfect.
Now pushing all-in, McKay was next to flash a shot into the body of the goalkeeper, well held with Bates on the doorstep. Martin tried her luck from distance.
Emily Neish then replaced Innes, and the Reds found a response, gaining ground with the running of Bailey Collins and the work of their frontline. A third evaded them though.
Hannah Jordan came off the bench, and was soon into the action with the equaliser. If Robinson’s was largely individual talent, this was teamwork. Goal of the game, it started with Martin in her own left back area, eluding two challenges to bring in Hannah Robinson. then Dion Young. The final pass to Jordan was exquisitely lofted over Pratt for 2-2. 73 played.
In truth, both teams had opportunities to win it, the game switching end-to-end in a frantic finish. The Govan team undoubtedly with the best of the productive dominance towards the close, which could have garnered the three points.
That said, Aberdeen had two further sights of their own, a Collins freekick for handball looking potentially profitable. Nadia Sopel with her radar just off too.
So a share of the spoils here – merged with Celtic’s victory over Glasgow City – trims the young Dons gap at the top back to five points, with the Celts holding 2 games in hand by the latest standings. Other sides are in the conversation as well. Still all to play for in the division.
A great game, laced with quality at every turn, and we gladly make it through the report together, without so much as even the merest mention of “a game of two halves” Proud of that!
Full Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 2-2 Rangers
Aberdeen FC Ladies: Pratt, Collins, Proctor, Whittingham, Sopel, Reid, Rogers, Henderson, Innes, Cooper, Jones Substitutes: Traynor, Hannah, Neish, Shand, Dalgetty
Rangers: McPhie, Daly, Slater, Vernal, Martin, MacLean, Robinson, Watson, McKay, McLeary, Bates
Substitutes: McMullan, Jordan, Todd, Young, Evans