Today, Scottish Building Society SWPL1’s first round ends with what is arguably the best game of the season. In the BBC Alba televised game at Broadwood, Glasgow City host Rangers.
City are in their normal place with all eight clubs having played six games. They have 18 points, three more than their opponents today, while Celtic, who only beat Rangers, has 13 points.
Moreover, since the start of the late season in October, City had already played three Champions League games. Although the other teams are not back in action until after the Jan. 17 winter break, City is playing the second leg of their last-32 tie against Sparta Prague, which they lost 2-1 on Wednesday in the Czech Republic.
There are a variety of options, but it’s already a game that Rangers can’t afford to lose. If they lose, not only would they be six points behind City, but if they win at Motherwell, they would also be one point behind Celtic.
That is the Rangers’ flip side of the coin. The big upside is that if they find a way to win with three goals or more, they can top the table. Any smaller victory will drop them to second place.
With a 9-0 victory over Motherwell, Scotland’s most expensively assembled team finally got on the winning track last Sunday. This nearly doubled their previous ten goals tally in five games.
What might have made the difference is not hard to guess. On pre-contract deals from City, Rachel McLauchlan, Sam Kerr and Kirsty Howat arrived and were called straight into the side against Motherwell.
Howat made an instant impact after previously scoring four goals for City, scoring a hat-trick. She is the second highest scorer in the league, one goal behind Donna Paterson of Forfar Farmington and three goals ahead of team-mate Lizzie Arnot and Natalie Ross of Celtic.
City could face five players in Nicola Docherty and Carly Girasoli who played a major role in the double in the 2019 league and Scottish Cup. Teenager Girasoli has every chance of being in the starting eleven, as she was last Sunday, with Demi Vance out with a broken cruciate ligament.
Malky Thomson and Scott Booth, head coaches, are downplaying the concern that such a big shift in staff could bring more spice to an already hard-fought game.
Thomson emphasized, “We’re going to focus on what we want to do,” “I don’t think it’s going to be an old-school game in terms of fighting. I hope not.”
“The players who have left us are still friends with the ones we have at City. They’ve made the decision to play for another club – and in the past we’ve signed players from Rangers.”The players who left us are still friends with those we have at City. They have made the option to play for another club, and we have signed Rangers players in the past.
Vance was injured late last month in Northern Ireland’s game against Belarus and won’t play again this season, but compatriot Megan Bell returned and scored against Motherwell.
“Demi’s operation is not as bad as we first thought, but she has been given a six to nine month period,” reported Thomson. “She has a desire to come back stronger and has got it in her head that it will be more like six than nine.”
While Rangers are free to use their newcomers, the rules do not allow City outside back Cailin Michie to field former Hibernian. That’s because Pitea came from the Swedish side, which means she’s going to have to wait for the international window that opens on January 1st.
Michie won’t be the only face that’s new. While City has neither confirmed nor denied it, Glasgow will be joined by Costa Rican striker Priscilla Chinchilla.
Not only does Chinchilla, who is only 19, give a wonderfully rhyming name to the league, but she is also a proven international player. Details are difficult to substantiate, but she has played 16 games for Costa Rica, scoring nine goals, according to one edition.
The only assurance is that last September, one of them came in a 3-1 victory over Argentina. She has played against the U.S. twice as well and is described as an exciting, attack-minded young player who can be used in all forward positions.
Her arrival will add even more spice to the title race and it is unlikely that she will be City’s last new signing in January.
Finally, best wishes to Jen Beattie, who spoke movingly and bravely about having breast cancer in Football Focus yesterday. The Arsenal and Scotland defender has received the sympathy and support de