A late Chelsie Watson penalty saw Rangers pick up a 2-1 win over Spartans after a pulsating tie at Ainslie Park.
It was the home side who had the better of the early exchanges with Zoe Johnstone shooting over in the opening minute and later, Michelle Russell firing into the side-netting. But as the game became older, Rangers started to grow in confidence and took the lead just before half-time through Carla Boyce, who spent the first part of last season on loan at Spartans.
The second half started in the same style, with Spartans hitting the woodwork twice in quick succession. And then, in the 72nd minute, Spartans finally found the equaliser through Russell.
But there would be a late twist when Brogan Hay was brought down in the box, and Watson converted to secure all three points.
Spartans Miss Early Chances
The home side nearly had the perfect start as they came close to open the scoring in the opening minute. From the right-wing, Kaela McDonald-Nguah whipped a cross into the box where making a late run to the far post, Zoe Johnstone shot over.
Rangers were coming into the game, but they were struggling to find the final pass with Spartans’ keeper Rachel Harrison dealing with all their crosses.
And despite the visitors having more of the ball, it was the home side who were having the chances and they came close once again to scoring. Alana Marshall’s through-ball split the Rangers’ centre-backs and sent Michelle Russell through on goal, but having been closed down by keeper Khym Ramsay, she could only fire the ball into the side-netting.
Rangers Causing Problems
In the 20th minute, Rangers created their first chance when a throw-in was worked to Carla Boyce on the edge of the box and the ex-Glasgow City forward saw her shot well held by Harrison. Soon after, Chelsie Watson had a long-range effort whizz past the post.
Spartans were racking up the corner count and they could have taken the lead with consecutive corners. The first was played short to Sarah Clelland whose effort drew a wonderful save by Ramsay, low down to her right. And then, the second corner saw the ball ricochet off two Spartan players’ heads and the Rangers keeper claimed the ball.
Boyce Scores Rangers’ Opener
The visitors were showing more of their attacking threat with Watson having a shot saved from close range, and then Boyce having an effort tipped onto the crossbar by Harrison’s finger-tips.
And with half-time approaching, Rangers took the lead. Clare Gemmell’s through-ball found Carla Boyce and she slid the ball under Harrison with a calm finish. Boyce probably should have scored a second minutes later after she found herself through on goal, but this time her shot went just wide of the far post.
With the last kick of the first half, Spartans should have equalised when Russell squared the ball to Louise Mason, but her shot was directed straight at Ramsay.
Walkingshaw and Marshall Hit Woodwork
After three minutes of the second half, the home side were left scratching their heads trying to work out how they had not scored. Firstly, Rachel Walkingshaw saw her thunderous shot hit the crossbar, then from the rebound, Marshall hit the bost and then Nicola Mawson saw her shot saved by Ramsay.
Within a minute though, Rangers could have doubled their advantage when a long ball sent Boyce through on goal, but she was denied by a great save by Harrison, using her legs.
The longer the game went on the more chances Rangers started to create with Brogan Hay having a shot deflected and Lauren Davidson finding the side netting.
Spartans Equalise Through Russell
And once again, Boyce came close having been played through on goal, but under strong pressure from Dion McMahon, she shot wide. The forward had to have treatment from this chance, having picked up a facial cut as she lost balance shooting.
Whilst Boyce was off the pitch, Spartans equalised after Marshall’s pass found Russell and she lobbed the keeper with a lovely finish.
Watson Scores Winning Penalty
Rangers looked to retake the lead and Gemmell saw her effort tipped onto the crossbar and then from the resulting corner had a goal ruled out for offside.
And then, the winner came when Sarah Clelland brought down Brogan Hay in the box and from the spot, Watson sent Harrison the wrong way.
Spartans: Harrison, Mawson, Clelland (Douglas 61), Dion McMahon (Murphy 72), Beveridge, Russell, Marshall, McDonald-Nguah (Simone McMahon 56), Mason, Walkingshaw, Johnstone (Santoyo-Brown HT)
Unused Subs: McAlonie, Cumings (GK)
Goal: Russell 72
Rangers: Ramsay, Lauren Gallon, Watson, Eddie (Donnelly 68), Muir, Coakley, Gemmell, Brogan Hay, Napier, Davidson Boyce (Sinclair 79).
Unused Subs: Donnelly, Baillie (GK), Sinclair
Goals: Boyce 42, Watson pen 83