Rangers 5-0 Spartans: Malky Thomson praises 'good find' Brianna Westrup

Rangers head coach delighted with American defender as they stay top of SWPL 1.

American centre back Brianna Westrup has been “a really good find” believes Rangers head coach Malky Thomson after she starred in the 5-0 win over Spartans at the Rangers Training Centre.

Kirsty Howat notched a double for Rangers, with Zoe Ness, Lizzie Arnot and substitute Clare Gemmell also finding the net as they maintained their place at the top of the SWPL on goal difference ahead of Glasgow City.

But Thomson paid tribute to Westrup’s dominant all-round performance alongside debutant Chantelle Swaby.

“It’s good,” said Thomson. “I know that Kirsty Howat got the BBC Alba player of the patch but, for me I thought, not to single anybody out, but Brianna Westrup had an absolutely solid game.

“Not just on the ball or her challenges or heading and stuff like that but her organisational skills and her calmness.”

Spartans had gone into this one confident after a 2-0 side last week over Hibs.

But the hosts began the game strongly, playing at a high tempo and keeping Spartans camped inside their own half. Spartans goalkeeper Rachel Harrison saved from Emma Brownlie and Swaby headed wide.

A tremendous run and cross from Rachel McLauchlan led to a great chance for Arnot but her header from six yards also slid wide.

It appeared to only be a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, and sure enough, when Spartans’ defence failed to deal with a Nicola Docherty cross from the left, Howat was on hand to head home and give the home side a deserved lead.

Rangers had long-range efforts from Howat and Kerr well saved by Harrison, before they extended their lead shortly before half-time with Ness rising highest to head home an Arnot corner.

The visitors came out looking energised after the break, putting more pressure on Rangers and pressing well without managing to create any clear cut chances. Rangers were patient, however, and began to take control of the match once more.

McLauchlan drew a great stop from Harrison after some neat build up play down the right, while Howat’s glancing header flew inches over the bar.

The constant pressure from Rangers paid off around the hour mark as Arnot cut inside her marker and her powerful strike found the bottom left corner from 20 yards.

Howat had a chance to extend the lead shortly after but fired over, while Kirsten Reilly and full back McLauchlan both saw efforts hit the woodwork.

Spartans have been strong defensively throughout the season, but the relentless pressure and patient build up from Rangers proved too much for them in this encounter as Rangers added to their lead in the closing stages.

The substitutes combined as Daina Bourma cut back for Gemmell to slot home first time from outside the penalty area, before Howat bagged her second in stoppage time, following good work by Brogan Hay.

Player of the match - Kirsty Howat

While her manager was rightly impressed by Brianna Westrup’s performance today, Kirsty Howat was lively throughout the match and caused problems for the Spartans defenders all game long. She scored twice, including the opener which set them on their way to victory, and was unlucky not to be leaving with the match ball with some efforts narrowly missing the target. Both of Rangers full-backs were also impressive going forward, but Howat was the stand out performer on the day.