A sun-blazed New Tinto Park in Glasgow was the setting for this top-of-the-table clash and the champions looked in the mood from the first whistle.
City were looking dangerous early doors and fired an early warning shot through a Jo Love header, which zipped wide of the target following a Fiona Brown cross.
Much of City’s play focused on attacking down the left wing with Brown and Nicola Docherty combining well with pace and precision. It was after Brown switched wings however, that the visitors began to forge some clear cut chances.
An interchange between Brown and Leanne Ross saw a cross land on the head of Julie Fleeting at the far post, but the striker couldn’t direct her header on target. Fleeting had another opportunity to score with a header shortly afterwards; again the cross came from the right but this time Fleeting’s header was saved under the crossbar by the Rangers keeper.
Fleeting was heavily involved when City eventually broke the deadlock. A set piece involving Ross on the left wing saw the ball firing across to the far post where Fleeting was arriving in the six-yard box. Fleeting was challenged by defender Rhonda Jones and the ex-City centre back looked to have kneed the ball past her own keeper and into the back of the net. It was a goal of fortune for City but credit must be given to Fleeting for being in the right place at the right time in the build-up to the goal and the referee recorded the goal as a strike from Fleeting.
Love nearly doubled City’s lead as the half came to a close. Ross played a short corner to Erin Cuthbert who picked Love out for a header, which went narrowly wide of the mark.
City emerged for the second half looking menacing. Within three minutes of the restart Cuthbert had a great chance to extend the champions’ lead. A stealthy attack down the left flank found Cuthbert arriving on the penalty spot, but the talented midfielder scuffed her left foot shot and it was easily saved. It was a signal of intent as waves and waves of City attacks piled on the pressure.
Fleeting headed over after yet another cross from the left wing before the killer second goal came through Cuthbert. Rangers attempted to build from the back and a defensive mistake allowed Cuthbert to control the ball on her chest, and fire a perfect left foot shot into the bottom right corner of the net. It was a great finish that left the Rangers keeper with no chance at all.
Scott Booth has a track record of giving opportunities to young players at Glasgow City. One of those talented youngsters, Sam Kerr, came on and immediately imposed herself on the game. The midfielder nearly scored when she let fly with a long range shot, prompting a top class save to touch the ball wide for a corner.
A third goal had been coming for a while before it was eventually scored by the ever-impressive Cuthbert. Inevitably, the build-up came from the left wing and a neat cut-back found Cuthbert arriving in the centre of the goal to knock a left foot shot into the net. 3-0. Cuthbert was at the heart of everything for City and was well deserving of her brace.
City should have had a fourth following a silky run into the box by Clare Shine. The Irish striker picked out Hayley Lauder who teed it up nicely for Brown who had a powerful shot saved by the keeper. Shine pounced on the rebound, which was saved again and the danger was cleared.
Another young player making an impact for the champions is Carla Boyce, who came on towards the end of the game. The hardworking Boyce was nearly rewarded with a goal after Ross zipped a wicked cross along the six yard line, but a Rangers toe managed to touch the ball away from the arriving Boyce with the goal gaping.
3-0 it finished and the champions looked dominant in the sun at New Tinto Park. An impressive performance, with a few good goals, gave a clear signal that City are once again hitting form when it matters most.
Reported by Paul Elliott
Pictures: Andy Buist