A lookback at an unforgettable year

A lookback at an unforgettable year


By Stephen Bark

With season 2021-22 fast approaching, we thought we’d take a look back at a year memorable for so many different reasons.

Glasgow City 2-0 Celtic

Opening matches don’t come much tougher than a Glasgow derby against a Celtic side determined to launch an assault on the SWPL title. The previous two meetings had gone the way of the team in green and white so the home players, in their first match at Broadwood, were hungry to set the record straight.

City looked to take the game to the visitors right from the off but, despite a couple of good first half chances, they went in level at the break.

Then, just after the hour mark, came that moment of magic – or perhaps luck – that City were looking for. Rachel McLauchlan drove for the byline and, from an impossible angle, she looped the ball up and over Chloe Logan and nestled it neatly in the side netting. It may have been intended as a cross, but they all count.

Brimming with confidence, it didn’t take City long to find a second to seal the points as Aoife Colvill laid it off for Kirsty Howat who was never going to miss. A perfect start to the season.

This was a significant game for me personally as it marked somewhat of a return to normality. It had been eight months since I had last attended a football match – coincidentally the reverse fixture between the sides in the voided 2020 season – and I realise that for you reading, it may well have been much longer before you could support your team in person again. Everyone has their own pandemic story but for myself, I felt incredibly lucky and humbled that I could return to the stands.

Hibernian 1-2 Glasgow City

After an enforced three-and-a-half-month break at the start of 2021, City had started the year with three wins from three before making the trip to Ainslie Park to face old foes Hibernian. It had been a more difficult season than recent years for the Edinburgh side, but they still possessed a talented team who had pushed City close in the reverse fixture.

At this point, it was neck and neck between City and Rangers at the top of the table so the defending champions couldn’t afford to slip up if they wanted to retain their crown. However, 13 minutes in, it was the home side who opened the scoring when lovely play from Kirsty Morrison allowed her to set up Eilidh Adams for the finish.

The remainder of this match typified the spirit and resilience of the City side that went 14 matches unbeaten after the winter break. The heads didn’t go down and within 20 minutes they were back level. She doesn’t score tap-ins Janine Van Wyk – I’m not even sure if she’s had a touch in the opposition box – but when you can strike a ball as well as she can, you don’t need to and this one was an absolute cracker.

After a few words of wisdom from Scott Booth at half time, they came out ready to turn one point into three and it was talisman Priscila Chinchilla who would make the difference. The Costa Rican international’s trickery was too much for the Hibs defence as she won and then converted the penalty which sealed an excellent come back.

Glasgow City 2-0 Rangers

Let’s be honest, we couldn’t look back on a title-winning campaign that went right to the wire and not mention the game that sealed 14-in-a-row.

It’s this kind of high-pressure game that footballer’s relish – a winner takes all scenario – and this was up there as one of City’s best performances of the season against one of the best teams in Scotland. Rangers’ title bid may have faltered in the second half of the campaign, but City were still up against the only team to have recorded an away league win at Broadwood – and the only team in Scotland to beat the defending champions.

In the glorious Cumbernauld sunshine and watched by a crowd of supporters who had missed going to the football, City could have just played for the draw as one point would’ve been enough to seal the title. But that’s not how Glasgow City do things and Scott Booth had set his team up to go and win the match so they wouldn’t have to look over their shoulders at what Celtic were doing.

On 13 minutes, Chinchilla and Hayley Lauder combined to send the latter through on goal. I’m still not quite sure how she managed to beat the keeper and find the target from such a tight angle, but such is the technical ability of Hayley Lauder.

It wouldn’t be like Niamh Farrelly to start a game in 2020-21 and not score and she didn’t disappoint. This time, Lauder turned provider just after the half hour and her free-kick was inch perfect for the Irish defender to head home.

With the title in their grasp, City managed the game perfectly to keep the clean sheet and ensure the SWPL trophy would spend another season in the black and orange trophy cabinet. The scenes of jubilation from the players at full time was one thing but it was being able to share that with the City supporters after the toughest of years that would mean so much to everyone in the stadium. These are the moments football is made for.

It was a long season – even if City did only play 25 matches – but one thing is for sure, season 2020-21 will not be forgotten.

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