With eight goals, a glut of stramashes and the woodwork taking a battering, the latest womens’ derby at Glasgow proved anything but predictable, for both spectators and coaching staff alike.
The early action gave some indication of the extraordinary events that were to unfold in the all-Glasgow derby; the deadlock was broken with only six minutes on the clock, as Katy Emslie stretched to meet Mhairi Robertson’s cross, before a ricochet off visiting goalkeeper Megan Holden fell kindly for the Glasgow striker to tap in from close range.
Having established an early lead, the hosts sought to put the game to bed. Emma Smith’s weak back header put her defensive colleagues under pressure, but Holden ran out to clear just before Claire Henderson could latch onto the ball. Katy Hawkins came close with a looping effort from 25 yards as Glasgow looked to assert their dominance on proceedings.
Disappointingly, the home side’s early advantage was wiped out by lax defending after 15 minutes. Strathclyde’s Charlene McCreath swung in a corner from the right, and Smith was afforded the freedom of the penalty box to send a simple volley past Siobhan Clennel from just six yards.
The whirlwind pace of events continued with two goals inside the next eight minutes. Dana Wilson restored Glasgow’s advantage with a shrewd 20-yard volley, only for Strathclyde to draw level again, as Ciara Barnes latched onto Michelle Keating’s through ball to sidestep Clennel and fire home.
The second half kicked off in the same vein as the dramatic opening period. Just thirty seconds had elapsed when Phoebe Broomfield flicked a corner onto the underside of the crossbar; the ball bounced down onto or around the goal line but the referee waved play on despite the vociferous protestations of the home players. Shortly afterwards, Henderson turned Julie Farquhar on the edge of the box and crashed a shot off the near post.
However, It wasn’t long before Glasgow restored their lead once again. This time Paula Salmi was the provider, sending in a cross from the right, and Emslie stretched to turn the ball in. The hosts appeared home and dry 10 minutes later when Stacy Hughes blocked another effort from Emslie and Henderson pounced to score the rebound.
However, the visitors were not to be beaten. The performance of Barnes, who was excellent throughout, arguably merited a second goal; however, the manner in which it arrived took everyone by surprise.
Her inswinging corner from the left was missed by attackers and defenders alike and the ball simply dropped into the far corner of the net. Buoyed by the lifeline, Strathclyde came at their hosts. Keating surged past two Glasgow defenders before seeing her 15-yard drive turned behind for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Smith charged in and cannoned a thundering shot off the post.
In the end, Strathclyde managed to complete a remarkable comeback. With just four minutes remaining, Clennel was unable to hold onto Mhairi Quinan’s dangerous cross, and Emma Richardson was on hand to bundle home a dramatic leveller.
Afterwards, Glasgow coach Niall Marshall reflected on a disappointing finale to an enthralling contest: “Strathclyde played well, but I felt we deserved to win. Their third goal was simply a freak goal and gave them the impetus and confidence to go forward in search of an equaliser. I think that, overall, we had the bulk of the play and the better chances.
“However, we still have important games still to play. It’s disappointing not to win today, but it’s another point towards winning the league, and we’re still in a very strong position to do that.”
Glasgow will continue their title challange on the 18th of February, when they face St Andrews at home.