SWPL Cup: Concerns for Glasgow City while Hibernian can't catch a break
The talking points from the weekend's SWPL Cup semi-finals
Glasgow City and Celtic will meet in next month’s SWPL Cup final after both triumphed in Stirling on Sunday.
The double-header at Forthbank Stadium failed to yield a cup upset in either tie as a quickfire double helped City see off Spartans, before a late Charlie Wellings strike denied Hibernian a seventh straight final appearance.
Results aside, what did we learn from the two matches?
Should Eileen Gleeson have concerns about Glasgow City? Will Hibs ever get a break? And will the final be decided by the full-backs?
Work for Eileen Gleeson to do despite Glasgow City win
There are notes for Eileen Gleeson to work on. Priscilla Chinchilla goal on the hour mark finally got the champions underway against Spartans, but it was the first real moment of quality from City.
For the game up to that point Glasgow City had been ponderous on the ball and nervous in possession as they struggled with a relentless press for Spartans. Following the opener though, they looked a completely different team, pushing more in the wider areas and using the space in midfield to zip passes around.
Scoring a second a minute later was both a symptom and a cementing of the second half. Julia Molin overlapping the right at every opportunity and her cut back to Hayley Lauder needed only the slightest of touches to be diverted in.
But Gleeson will be concerned at how they still look uncomfortable defending set pieces and had Spartans been able to capitalise it could have been a far trickier afternoon for Glasgow City.
In pushing Molin forward in the second half, Agata Filipa dropped in to make a back three in possession. That lopsided backline left Louise Mason acres of space to step into and, until her sending off, she was a consistent thorn in City’s side.
Spartans hounded Glasgow City all over the pitch for the first half, harried City into errors, and their pressure unsettled City.
“We want players to go out there with their hearts on their sleeves,” said Spartans boss Debbi McCulloch. “When you do that it’ll win you games, but there’s also the other side of the coin where you can be a bit late for a challenge.”
Unlucky Hibernian continue worrying second half trend
Hibs manager Dean Gibson was perplexed after his side’s defeat to Celtic as he tried to explain the causes.
Equally frustrating for Gibson was the unfortunate nature of Celtic’s winner. Three Hibs defenders attempted to clear their lines but a combination of ricochets that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a pinball machine saw the ball reach Charlie Wellings who fired high past Gabriella English.
Gibson said: “I always talk about small margins, we don’t seem to get it. I’m not even going to say it’s going to turn because that’s nearly two seasons now these things have happened.”
Bartle v Molin: The two full backs that could determine gritty final
Looking ahead to the final, it could well be two right wing backs that decide the outcome. Both showed plenty driving forward and had a role in the goals for their respective sides. Molin’s overlap created City’s second whilst Jodie Bartle’s surge into space began the move for Celtic’s winner.
As neither side can rely on the other to tire, which is perhaps a criticism that could be levelled at both after the semi-finals, how they each handle the threats posed in the wide areas could well decide who’ll head back to Glasgow with the trophy.
As we’ve already noted Gleeson will have to manage the issue of her backline, giving Bartle the kind of space Mason had could well be catastrophic for the champions. Celtic’s narrow frontline too will need the width provided by their wingbacks should they set up in the same manner in the final.
The clash between the two sides is likely to be as interesting a tactical contest between Eileen Gleeson and Fran Alonso as it as a tensely fought final for the 22 on the pitch.
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