GLASGOW CITY, who appointed Eileen Gleeson as their new head coach on Friday, face a big test of their propensity to win the league games that really matter when they play Rangers at Petershill Park this afternoon.

Grant Scott, who remains in interim charge until November 8, knows from his time at Hibernian how City always found a way to thwart the Edinburgh club's title ambitions. As far as he is concerned, there was always one factor which ensured City's league domination continued.

“We didn't ever share this opinion with the players, but behind closed doors and away from the group at certain moments we felt the only thing City had different from us was these extra players with experience,” Scott admitted. “They had the know-how of when to close a game down, to see a game out, or how to step up in moments of adversity if we were on top in a match.”

Although it didn't usually work for City in the cups against Hibs, it did yet again in the league last season when Rangers and Celtic were the main challengers. They took seven points from nine against Celtic, and six from nine against Rangers.

The big difference now is that Leanne Ross, who played in all 14 successive title winning seasons, and midfielder Leanne Crichton are no longer on the pitch. Nor are South African captain Janine van Wyk and her former Icelandic central defensive partner Arna Asgrimsdottir, who was an influential player in the final two-thirds of last season.

That's a lot of experience to take out of any team. Coincidentally or not, the long-term pattern of not letting the opposition back into games was broken last month when a 2-0 half-time lead against Celtic didn't translate into three points.

Rangers head coach Malky Thomson points out that City retain a wealth of experience both on and off the pitch. Nevertheless, his side appear to have the league's strongest squad and will go five points clear of today's opponents at this early stage of the season should they win.


GLEESON will not be at today's game as she has one final commitment to the Republic of Ireland. Preparations are underway for the World Cup qualifying double-header against Sweden and Finland, and the Glasgow City appointee admits it was a “bitter-sweet” decision to relinquish her role as assistant to former Scotland head coach Vera Pauw.

City central defender Claire Walsh and midfielder Niamh Farrelly will travel to Dublin after the Rangers game, while two other players, Clare Shine and Aoife Colvill, are also Ireland caps but weren't selected for the double header.

Gleeson's appointment brings the number of female head coaches in SWPL 1 up to four out of ten. It's a huge percentage jump from last season, when longstanding Spartans manager Debbi McCulloch was alone out of eight.

With several prominent current and former Scotland players, including Ross and Crichton, currently taking their coaching badges, the percentage will only rise further. It should, of course, be noted that there are still almost no opportunities for women in men's football.


SCOTLAND will expect to make it nine points from nine in 2023 World Cup qualifying when they play Hungary at Hampden on Friday. Pedro Martinez Losa is able to welcome back Caroline Weir and Lisa Evans to strengthen a side which beat the same opposition 2-0 in Budapest last month.

Everton midfielder Lucy Graham also returns from injury, but, as with team-mate Claire Emslie, will be coming to terms with yesterday's news that her club manager Willie Kirk has been sacked. Kirk's backroom team included another former Hibernian head coach, Chris Roberts, as well as Ian McCaldon, who was Anna Signeul's Scotland goalkeeping coach.

Written off by Everton, it seems, are last year's FA Cup final appearance and fifth place in the Women's Super League. Kirk was given a big budget in the summer and heavy defeats to Manchester City (twice), Chelsea and Arsenal have antagonised Sarvar Ismailov, who is sporting and commercial director of the women's team.

As previously mentioned here, he tweeted “Unacceptable” during the 4-0 defeat to Chelsea last month. Although quickly deleted, it was an indication that the 26-year-old has perhaps unrealistic expectations of how Everton are expected to perform against England's top three clubs.

Kirk agreed a new 30-month contract in December, which should ensure he will be well compensated for his abrupt departure. Ironically, had he not signed that deal and wanted the Scotland job following Shelley Kerr's departure later the same month he would probably have been given first refusal.