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Spartans Rue Missed Chances

Match Report by Edmund Brown



In the last game before the mid-season break in the Scottish Women’s Premier League, Spartans drew 2-2 with Rangers to secure top six football for the second half of the season.

Spartans dominated the game from start to finish and after taking a 2-0 lead into half time through strikes by Claire Crosbie and Sarah Ewens the homeside continued to press the Rangers defence for more and more goals. However, as the North Edinburgh side were pressing for more goals, Rangers broke clear and scored two goals in two minutes with Suzanne MacTaggart grabbing a brace and stealing a point from Ainslie Park.

Within two minutes of kick-off Spartans created their first opportunity in the game with Trish McLaughlin racing clear of the defence only to see her chip go wide of the mark. Danni Pagliarulo picked the ball up midway through the Rangers half and played a delightful ball over the top for the pacey McLaughlin to latch onto only to see her chip over the advancing keeper go wide of the mark.

Spartans continued in this frame and moments later the home side took the lead with stand-in Captain Claire Crosbie floating her shot high into the net from just outside the box. Pagliarulo put in a fierce tackle and the ball broke to new signing Alana Marshall who was playing against her former team. The winger proceeded to dance her way past three challenges before laying the ball to Crosbie on the edge of the area. The Spartans midfielder steadied herself before firing a chipped shot into the roof of the net.

The pressure on the Rangers goal was increasing as time went by and within five minutes Sarah Ewens got her first sight of goal as she bustled her way through two challenges before firing a shot wide of the mark. Bobbie Beveridge collected the ball down the right wing and played the ball infield to Lana Clelland who flicked the ball over one defender before playing in Ewens. Using her strength the Spartans forward escaped the grasps of the defence before firing a right foot drive wide of the post.

Spartans again came close to increasing their lead a minute later with McLaughlin again out-pacing the defence only to see her shot fly past the right hand post. Pagliarulo, who was running the midfield with Crosbie, floated a ball over the top of the Rangers central defence for the speedy McLaughlin who shot a fierce drive wide of the post.

Just after the half hour mark goalscorer Crosbie tried her luck again and tried to lob the keeper from just inside the Rangers half however the keeper managed to scramble back and collect on the line. The ball broke to the midfielder and, after seeing the keeper off her line, tried an audacious lob from around the half-way line however Kelsey Brown managed to peddle back and collect the ball.

Spartans were piling the pressure onto the Rangers goal and again were unlucky not to increase their advantage as Ewens crashed the ball over the bar from eight yards out. Pagliarulo played the ball out wide to Marshall who, after beating the fullback, sent over a diagonal ball to the far post for Ewens, who at full stretch, to volley the ball over the bar.

Within five minutes however Spartans finally doubled their lead with Ewens chipping the ball home from just inside the box. Victoria Farquhar brought the ball out of defence and sent a long ball over the top of the defence into the path of Ewens who, with the defender charging down on her, chipped the ball into the corner of the net past the on-rushing keeper.

The second half continued in the same frame as the first period with Spartans continuing to press for more goals. However five minutes after the break Rangers broke clear and reduced the deficit with a Suzanne MacTaggart strike from the left hand side of the box. Megan Faley stole the ball from the feet of McLaughlin and drove at the Spartans defence before playing the ball to MacTaggart who buried a low left foot drive into the corner of the net.

Within two minutes and the game was all square as MacTaggart headed the ball from eight yards out. Faley collected the ball inside the Spartans half and after skipping past the midfield was apparently fouled by Moultray. Lesley Condie floated in the free kick to the unmarked MacTaggart who sent a bulleted header into the corner of the net.

On the hour mark Spartans were appealing to the referee that the ball had crossed the line as Crosbie connected with a Marshall corner and head towards goal. Ewens cross from the right was deflected wide for a corner by Amie McGill. Marshall swung an in-swinging cross to the far post for Crosbie to leap above everyone and head towards the corner of the net. However Brown got her body in the way to block on the line and with the Spartans claiming the ball had crept in, the referee waved play on.

The Rangers Keeper Brown was again the saviour for her team as she pulled off a point-blank save from Farquhar after the ball had rebounded off the post. Marshall swung a corner in from the right again to the far post where Crosbie, similar to the last opportunity, connected to send a header crashing off the upright with the ball bouncing into the path of Farquhar who, from eight yards out, sent a thunderous shot towards goal only to see Brown pull off a wonder save to parry the ball away.

With 75 minutes gone Ewens was unlucky not to give her side the lead as she saw her shot cleared off the line by Rangers Captain Condie. Pagliarulo took a quick free-kick that caught out the Rangers defence and played the ball through to Ewens whose shot flew past Brown in the Rangers goal only to be cleared off the line by her Captain.

Minutes before the final whistle Ewens was again clear through on goal but Brown pulled off another fantastic save to deny the striker. Ewens latched onto a long ball through and as she skipped past the defence and with only the keeper to beat she fired a right foot shot towards the net only to see the diving Brown palm the ball away and seal the draw for her team.

Spartans Head Coach Debbi McCulloch felt her team played extremely well and were extremely unlucky not to have won the game. She said: "We created so many chances and it’s hard to know how we didn’t win. Their keeper pulled off some tremendous saves. But we are in the top six playing against the best teams in the league so it will be a challenge but one we are all looking forward to."  





Spartans: Rachel Harrison, Alana Marshall, Claire Crosbie, Louise Magilton, Lana Clelland, Bobbie Beveridge, Trisha McLaughlin, Danni Pagliarulo, Louise Moultray, Sarah Ewens, Victoria Farquhar

Substitutes: Diana Barry, Ashley Nicholson, Sarah Archibald, Katie Reilly, Becky Galbraith, Jo Hutcheson, Molly McKean

Rangers: Kelsey Brown, Steph Knox, Amie McGill, Lesley Condie, Jill Paterson, Leanne Hughes, Megan Faley, Kathy Hill, Jennifer Condie, Lisa Swanson, Suzanne MacTaggart.

Substitutes: Rebecca Blair, Rachel Halliday, Megan Karagousis, Amy Lindsey, Jade Williamson


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