Spartans kick-off their SWPL 2015 campaign against Forfar Farmington this weekend and for Spartans Manager Debbi McCulloch, starting the season with a home win is vital in building foundations for a successful season ahead.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s season opener, McCulloch – last season’s SWPL Manager of the Year – is wary of the threat the Station Park side will pose and is confident her resolute defence will keep Damion Neish’s team at bay.
McCulloch said, “Both teams will be a wee bit uncertain as to how each other will line up and set out their stall. Forfar are going to be similar to ourselves in some ways, in that players have come and gone over the close season, but I think where we have been fortunate is that we’ve been able to add some real good quality to our team.
“We’re focussed and we’ve prepared well over the past week at training and the girls are feeling very positive on the back of a good performance during our League Cup win on the road against Rangers a fortnight ago.
“We know Sunday will be a difficult game. Add that to the fact we’ll be kicking-off the campaign in front of our home fans. The pressure will be on us to start the season with a win as we know our supporters will be expecting big things from us this season.
“Last year we played Forfar twice in what were very contrasting games in terms of scoreline and intensity. We know where their strengths and weaknesses lie and that’s up for us to exploit come 1pm on Sunday.”
After conceding 23 fewer goals in 2014 than they had done the previous year, McCulloch is looking forward to another season of steadfast defending from her Spartans back division.
“Sometimes you can look at how you aren’t winning games by the amount of goals scored, but you’ve got to pay particular attention to the defence too. I think against Rangers our back four were magnificent and when Rachel was called upon, she pulled off fantastic saves as well. I felt we dealt with a lot of threats that came our way comfortably and this bodes well for the season ahead.
“The players know what’s expected of them and have their own individual goals to work on over the season. It’s important that as a player you have a focus and that you have a challenge in order to better yourself.
“Our experience in the back division is really proving to be important with Suzy Shepherd continuing to deliver a fantastic work rate and I’ve felt that Bobbie Beveridge has been a breath of fresh air during pre-season, really performing well both in her defensive and attacking role as a full back.
“Together with Suzy and Bobbie, Nicola Mawson has already proven to be a fantastic signing and the young Canadian has great strength, pace and technical ability in the full back area.
“The last line of defence is vital too and in Rachel Harrison, we have a player who is commanding and demanding whilst most importantly, when you need her to pull off those vital stops, she’s there.”
The SWPL opener against Forfar Farmington kicks off at 1pm at Ainslie Park.