After a rest week to allow for the Scotland v Wales friendly international, which saw Tartan Spartans Kerry Montgomery earn a place on the bench and Rachel Harrison once again called up to the squad camp, it’s back to league action as the second half of the SWPL campaign continues to gather pace.
It’s one-all in terms of victories already this season and Spartans Manager Debbi McCulloch is looking forward to taking one of the strongest squads she’s been able to choose from this year back up the A90 to secure three valuable league points.
Sunday’s early start to the 250-mile round-trip North may feel arduous for some, but for Claire Crosbie and Kirsty McLaughlin it’s another journey on the road to recovery for the influential duo.
The pair have been out of action since September 2013 following significant ACL injuries however they are ready once again to play an integral part of Manager McCulloch’s plans for the remainder of the Top 6 fixture card.
Crosbie, who will be looking to add to her 121 appearances for the Club said, “Sunday could be the first opportunity for both Kirsty and I to get back on the pitch and we are both excited by the prospect. The 11 month recovery programme has been a long and at times frustrating process however we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Club and the support of the girls. “
McLaughlin, who has netted 24 times in her 48 outings, commented, “The girls played fantastically well during the first half of the season and it’s a credit to them, especially when you take into account the number of injuries they’ve had to contend with. They’ve pulled together as a team and I’m just thankful to be part of it and look forward to be involved in the next stage.
“For me, I think the team have progressed significantly over the last 6 months and have gelled very well as a unit, taking what is being learned at training into game time on the pitch and hopefully we’ll be able to build on this momentum throughout the second half of the season.”
Meanwhile, Manager Debbi McCulloch is looking forward to another tough challenge. “We were extremely disappointed to lose the league cup game against Aberdeen at the start of the season however we won what was another tight game a few weeks later in the league so we know what kind of game to expect on Sunday.
“Even since that performance, we’ve improved a lot and I feel that if we play in the same manner as we did a fortnight ago against Glasgow City, then we will cause problems.”
Having a near empty treatment table is a good problem for McCulloch as she looks to gain ground on second-placed Rangers, a side yet to beat Spartans this season.
“With the exception of long-term injured pair Lana Clelland and Natasha McMahon, it’s the first time this season we’ll be as close to full strength as possible which is a tremendous boost for us and makes team selection a headache, further compounded by the fact everyone is training so well too.
“That’s what the second half of the season is about though. The chance to utilise your squad and with Kirsty and Claire back in contention, we now have exceptional strength and depth not only in the starting line-up, but on the bench too.”
Kick-off at Sunnyside Juniors is at the earlier time of 12.00.
The other SWPL Round 13 games are:
Glasgow City v Rangers
Hamilton Accies v Hutchison Vale
Buchan v Inverness
Queens Park v Forfar
Hibernian v Celtic