Glasgow University Women’s Football Club began the new season with a hard-earned victory against local rivals Strathclyde University at the Garscube, fighting both spirited opponents and awful conditions on the way to a solid start to the campaign. Strathclyde took an early lead before Glasgow responded with a brace from Mariel Kaney, leaving a wonder-strike from Vivieka Moricz to settle the tie late in the second half.
The fixture was the first of the season for both teams but any rustiness was not evident as the sides got stuck into each other from the off. Glasgow had the first opportunity, with smart work on the wing by Moricz resulting in a chance for striker Jane O’Toole, who shot straight at Strathclyde’s keeper but should have done better with the whole goal at her mercy.
Meanwhile, both teams started to by-pass the midfield in an attempt to utilise the erratic weather. Countering quickly, they were thwarted by a mixture of solid defending and poor decision-making.Whenever the ball did find its way into the central battleground, the strength and calmness of the skilful Kaney was a steady influence, ably aided by the industriousness of Katherine Jaycock, who did well to deny Strathclyde’s lively no.10 a clear shooting opportunity.
It was this same striker, a fine, athletic presence, who finally broke the deadlock, breaking between the Glasgow defence and calmly firing past the on-rushing Saara Mastinmaki into the far corner.
Shell-shocked, Glasgow launched into action, almost equalising immediately as Rachel Holt’s prod past the keeper was desperately scrambled clear off the line. The home side didn’t have long to wait however, as a fortunate ricochet left the ball at the feet of the impressive Karney, who guided the ball into the top-corner from 20 yards.
Once again at stalemate, the game slowly devolved into a battle of attrition between the two combatants; their endeavour was not helped by the weather taking a turn for the worse, leaving the playing surface wet and slippery. As the holding of possession became a mixture of error and chance, Glasgow’s full-backs Paula Salmi and Sarah Sine started to impress for the home side with some forceful tackles, whilst Strathclyde’s gobby centre-midfielder energetically patrolled the midfield, putting herself about to great effect, utilising a repertoire of tugs and pulls to stop the flow of attacks.
Clear cut chances were at a premium; a free-kick flashing narrowly over from Strathclyde was the closest anyone came as the half drew to a close before a moment of controversy stirred the teams into animosity. The troublesome Strathclyde 10 got herself behind the Glasgow defence and rounded keeper Mastinmaki, who seemed to touch her before the nimble striker eventually stumbled and fell over theatrically. No penalty was the referee’s decision, despite Strathclyde’s vocal protestations.
Glasgow started the second half the stronger and quickly got the breakthrough they deserved. Moving to the byline, revitalised winger Moricz found Karney, whose weak shot inexplicably slipped underneath the keeper’s body and apologetically into the net, much to the delight of Glasgow’s supporters on the touch line.
This seemed to spark both teams into life, resulting in a flurry of good chances for both sides which with greater composure should have been finished off. The game became more stretched as both teams sought to resolve the fixture, and as the defences tired they dropped back, leaving more room for the driving runs of the wingers to exploit.
These gaps would soon prove pivotal to the outcome of the contest. Moricz, a thorn in the side to Strathclyde all afternoon, was given far too much space, and, latching onto a bouncing ball with the instep of her foot, she guided a wonderful lob into the top-corner of the net from 25 yards, leaving the Strathclyde keeper spitting in frustration. With this final blow, Strathclyde seemed to lose hope, and Glasgow comfortably saw out the last 15 minutes of the game out, confirming their first victory of the campaign.
The team now travel to Stirling where they are certain to face a far sterner test. The university hosts Scotland’s Academy of Footballing Excellence, and with 7 of their squad also playing for Champions League newcomers Glasgow City, Glasgow Uni will be looking to upset the odds.