Glasgow City moved five points clear of Hibernian Ladies at the top of the SWPL following an 8-1 win over Hutchison Vale, under the shadow of Hampden Park, at Toryglen this morning.
Sarah Crilly was the star of the show as she bagged four goals, while in-form midfielder Sue Lappin was not to be left in the shade either by getting in on the act with her own hattrick. Lisa Robertson got on the scoresheet for City also, while a first half penalty for Hutchison Vale from Laura Gavin was scant consolation to Hutchie Vale.
The win sets up City for the defence of their League Cup crown on Wednesday against Spartans, in a repeat of last year’s League Cup Final.
Two minutes into the match and it was Hutchison Vale who threatened first through Jennifer Rogers, who drove down the right flank past City’s Danica Dalziel before cutting inside along the byline, however her ball across the face of goal was gathered by keeper Lee Alexander.
It wasn’t until the ten minute mark that the deadlock was broken as City found the back of the net. Lisa Robertson wrestled possession away from a Hutchison Vale defender on the left and drove down the flank before sending an early cross over to Sarah Crilly in the Vale box, who slipped the ball past an onrushing Dani Downs in the Vale goal to score her first of the game.
Just six minutes later and it was 2-0 to City as Sue Lappin in trademark style glanced a header in off the base of the bar after a pinpoint cross from Nic Docherty.
Much of the play from City was coming down the left flank, with the marauding Nic Docherty proving to be a constant threat to Vale. That was in stark contrast to play down the right, which was non-existent or when it did materialise it was broken up easily by the Vale defence.
On 19 minutes, a ball was played into Lappin who hit first time shot inside a crowded box, but Downs saved well.
Just a minute later and City conceded a needless penalty after some slack play at the back. Vale’s Jennifer Rogers put Cheryl Gallagher under pressure in the City half, before robbing her of possession, as the Vale striker careered towards the City goal Gallagher clumsily brought Rogers down and referee Morag Pirie had no hesitation in awarding the penalty – but the cards were kept in her pocket when it could have been a straight red for denying a goal scoring opportunity. From the resulting penalty, Laura Gavin tucked her shot into the bottom left corner of the goal past Alexander.
Just after the half hour mark, more slack play at the back for City gifted Rogers another opportunity to race towards goal as she was one-on-one with Alexander but her touch escaped her and the onrushing Alexander beat the Vale keeper to the ball and cleared the danger.
City started to get a foot hold in the game again as they pressed Hutchison Vale back. Sue Lappin on 34 minutes played a neat ball to Crilly, her shot beat Downs in the Vale goal but the post denied the diminutive striker.
A minute later and City were denied again as a shot from Suzanne Malone was saved by Downs, before gathering the ball at the second attempt.
It was all one way traffic at this point and City should really have extended her lead, when a Nic Docherty cross from the left was earmarked for Crilly at the back post, but the former Accies striker could not get her head onto the ball and the chance went begging.
The last chance of the first half came some seven minutes before the interval, when a long ball from Eilish McSorley picked out Sue Lappin, who headed the ball down into the path of Malone, but under pressure from Downs, the City striker saw her shot go wide.
The first half was certainly not up to the standard that City head coach Eddie Wolecki Black demands from his charges and with that in mind, he made two changes during the break. Skipper Leanne Ross came on for Cheryl Gallagher and Ruesha Littlejohn came on for Julie Melrose who was posted missing for much of the first half.
Just three minutes into the second half and substitute Ruesha Littlejohn tried her luck from distance, but her shot went wide of the Vale goal.
A minute later and City extended their lead. A cross from Lisa Robertson found Malone at the back post, her shot took a fortuitous deflection into the path of Lappin who buried the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
On 57 minutes the hard-working and knackered looking Jennifer Rogers was replaced by Anna Donald, as Vale looked to shore up their defence. But on the hour mark, Crilly once again popped up once again as she latched onto a Lisa Robertson cross from the left to score past Downs in the Vale goal.
A minute later and Downs denied City another certain goal as she first denied Malone and then managed to get her fingertips to the ball as Lappin set to head home from close range.
But City were not to be denied their fifth goal of the game and it was Crilly once again who pounced on 65 minutes, bagging herself a hat trick as she fired home from close range.
On 69 minutes, the slack play that was self-evident in the first half resurfaced in the City back line as Danica Dalziel let in Vale striker Laura Gavin, but while her shot beat Alexander in the City goal the woodwork came to City’s rescue.
Two minutes later and Dalziel looked to make amends for her earlier lapse of concentration as she was denied twice at the other end. Her first shot was saved superbly by Downs from point-blank range and her second bite at the cherry was cleared off the line by substitute Anna Donald.
On 74 minutes, Crilly (or Carluke’s answer to Lionel Messi as she will now be affectionately known on Scotzine) picked up the loose ball in the middle of the park before going on a solo run towards the Vale goal, spotting Downs off her line she lobbed the keeper from 20 yards out to score her fourth of the game and City’s sixth.
Seven minutes from time, as she was looking to secure her own hat trick, Sue Lappin rose above the Vale defence to get her head onto the ball but the post – which was her friend in the first half – denied her in the second.
But City were not to be denied their seventh of the game as Lisa Robertson fired through a crowded box past Downs.
Lappin finally secured a well deserved hat trick on 86 minutes. Ruesha Littlejohn was denied three times in quick succession by the outstanding Downs in the Vale goal, but Lappin fired home her third of the game and City’s eight after picking up the rebound.
A moment of sheer hilarity took over on the sidelines as the fans watched madcap Irish international Ruesha Littlejohn drop to the ground in frustration at being denied by Downs on three occasions and then headbutting the ball several times just to give it a piece of her mind.
That was the final chance of the game as City comfortably ended the game, securing all three points and a morale boosting win ahead of Wednesday night’s League Cup Final.
Commenting on his side’s win, Wolecki Black said: “I was very disappointed with the first half performance, but credit to Hutchie, who were very well organised and disciplined. In the second half, I have to say that the changes we made altered the whole dynamics of the game and we were a vastly improved side.
“Particularly pleasing was the contribution of Sarah Crilly who seems to be growing in confidence with every passing game, which was obviously reflected in her goal tally. The front two today created so many opportunities for the rest of the team and they really do drag defences apart.
“As always, with this club, the next big match is only a few days away and now we focus on the final against Spartans on Wednesday.”
Hutchison Vale’s Tracy Donachie, speaking exclusively to Scotzine after the match, said: “We always go out there to look to win or to be a little bit closer [in terms of the result]. First half I thought we played very well and kept it nice and tight. In the second half, they [City] obviously made some changes and we didn’t adjust to it.
With Vales’ Dani Downs denying City on numerous occasions throughout the 90 minutes, Donachie was full of praise for the keeper, she added: “Our keeper did very well to make those saves, especially in the first half and kept us in the game, keeping it at 2-1. She did very well and it’s just a shame that we weren’t there in defence to clear up the last one [goal]. She was very brave and strong in the goals I thought today.”
Despite the result, there were positives that could be taken from the game, Donachie continued: “I think the half time score, I think we had a desire to win. We went out there, not going out as a defensive unit, to play our own game. I just think that it fell apart in the second half, but I think we should take our first half performance into our next game and build on those positives that we did have.”
Glasgow City’s next match is against Spartans as the two sides contest the first piece silverware of the season in the SWPL League Cup Final at Recreation Park, Alloa. Kick off is 7.30pm.