Written by Mark Gordon
The Scottish Women’s Football League Division 2 North will come to its conclusion on Sunday 7th October in the most dramatic fashion. Stonehaven and Montrose go into the final match of the season against each other, as the top-two in the division. The side’s will kick-off Sunday’s decider not only level on points but also on goal difference, setting up a winner-takes-all final day encounter.
Stonehaven got the better of Montrose in the last meeting of the sides back in June with a narrow 2-1 victory. Despite that win and the fact that they have a better ‘goals scored’ record, Stonehaven manager Matt Smith feels that his side are still the underdogs.
“Montrose are bigger club and we are undoubtedly underdogs as far as winning the league is concerned, but I love that” he said. “We’re a relatively small club but we know exactly what we are and we revel in being the underdog”.
Smith won’t be changing anything in the build up to the game, despite what is at stake. “We’ll train as normal, the same routine, we train just as hard for every game no matter the opposition so there is no difference this week.”
Stonehaven have scored two more goals over the season than their opponents, giving them the slightest edge going into the decider. Smith isn’t looking to rely on that advantage which would, in the event of a draw, see Stonehaven become champions. “We’ll not be playing for a draw, we play to win every game and we’ll be going for the win on Sunday.”
Montrose will visit Minerwell Park on Sunday knowing that they must win to be crowned champions. The ‘Gable-Endies’ are no strangers to winning matches though, they are on an eight-game winning run since the defeat to Stonehaven in June.
Player-manager, Eilidh Reid, feels her side are ready for the big decider. “We dominated the last meeting and have worked hard to eradicate the mistakes we made, we are ready for the re-match and have a full squad available.”
This is only Montrose’s second full season having been formed in 2017 and after finishing 7th last season, Reid decided to make some changes to the back-room staff. “I made the decision to bring in Kenny Gammie as senior coach and Michael Smith as coach/physio on matchdays.”
Reid believes those additions to the coaching have staff not only allowed her more freedom to concentrate on playing but has also helped the team. “This has proven to be key to this year’s success with structured training sessions from Reid and Gammie ensuring excellent turnouts for training sessions.”
Both sides have been virtually flawless since returning from the summer break and the prospect of a final day decider has always been likely. It says a lot about the quality in attitude, as well as ability, in the top-two as they have managed to avoid any slip-ups as they maintained their collision course at the business-end of the campaign.
Reflecting on what has been a great season, irrespective of Sunday’s result, both managers are keen to recognise how well their sides have done. Montrose’s Reid says, “With this being Montrose Ladies FC’s second year as a club, this has been recognised by the Montrose FC Chairman and the Montrose Community Trust as a significant achievement.”
Reid advised that a win on Sunday would also cap a significant year for the Links Park club. “If the Ladies are successful on Sunday, Montrose FC will have a trio of winners with Montrose FC, Montrose Amateur FC, and Montrose Ladies FC all winning their leagues in 2018.”
The league isn’t won yet though but the Montrose players will go into the ready and they’ll take with them the words of Senior Coach Kenny Gammie, which the players have embraced throughout the campaign, “Winning is not everything, but the want to win is”.
Stonehaven boss Matt Smith will have his players in a similarly positive frame of mind and he was keen to acknowledge his squad’s efforts over the campaign. “The players deserve a real pat on the back for their efforts this season. They have been fantastic and they have really banded together as a team unit and created a really good atmosphere amongst the squad. The league position is a testament to them and their efforts and they’re focussed to finish in style on Sunday.”
Smith set out at the start of the season to be at the top come October and he isn’t surprised by how well his team have done. “We nicked second on the last day last season and at that time we felt we could go one better this time around.”
The big match kicks-off at 2.15pm on Sunday 7th October at Minerwell Park as Stonehaven take on Montrose with the winner to be crowned champions of SWFL 2 North.