MATCH REPORT: FALKIRK WOMEN 3-2 HUTCHISON VALE

Falkirk played their first pre-season friendly last Thursday night against Hutchison Vale, a club who now play in the league above them following restructuring.

This was expected to be a tough game, but Falkirk had the early pressure with several balls into the Hutchie box which caused problems for the opposition defence. The trialist Falkirk striker had one early chance but her header drifted just over the bar. 

The Edinburgh side gradually got a foothold in the game and created their first real chance on 22 mins when their number 17 beat Falkirk goalkeeper Rachel Pirie to the ball and lobbed it over her head. It looked a goal all the way, but Amy Whitters did brilliantly to slide in and clear it off the line. Sadly, from the resulting corner, the Vale captain got her head on the ball and steered it into the net for the opening goal. 

Corners would be a problem for the Falkirk defence during the remainder of the half and Vale almost scored a second after getting another header inside the six-yard box. This time, however, Pirie was in just the right place to make the block.  

Just one minute after conceding from the corner, Falkirk were level. After suffering two bad injuries last season Eva Rule made an impact in her long-awaited return to action. She found space on the right and whipped the ball into the box where the trialist striker was waiting. Seconds later the ball nestled in the bottom left-hand corner and the Bairns were back on level terms. 

Both Falkirk trialists in the half were posing a danger as the midfield player had a shot saved by the Vale keeper on the half hour mark. The Hutchison Vale captain was probably the most influential player of the half though, as she netted again on 35 mins. Her shot from outside the box nestled in the top corner and gave Pirie no chance. Vale could have scored again before the break, but Kirsty McLeod slid in to clear the ball from the number seven just as she was about to pull the trigger. 

There were multiple personnel changes at half-time, as you would expect when Falkirk had a squad of 20 players. Three of these were trialists, with five players stepping up from last years Development Squad. 

The changes didn’t weaken the team and four minutes into the second half, captain Laura Dickson hit a shot low and hard from the centre of midfield and the ball found its way beyond the keeper for a Falkirk equaliser. 

Seven minutes later Falkirk had another chance as striker Avril Johnstone lofted a shot in from outside the box. It drifted just over, but all she was doing was finding her range. On 64 minutes she picked up the ball on the left, drove into the box and curled a beauty beyond the marking defender and goalkeeper, but still inside the post. Falkirk were ahead for the first time in the game. 

As you would expect, the Edinburgh side started pushing Falkirk back at this point in an attempt to get back in the game. This left gaps which Falkirk almost exploited with a fourth goal, as midfield dynamo Hannah Draper burst into the box to get a shot away from a tight angle. The keeper blocked with her knees to keep her team in the game. 

In the end it didn’t matter as Falkirk ran out 3-2 winners in the first game for the new coaching staff led by Craig Tully. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come. 

Line-up: Rachel Pirie (sub Sarah-Louise Waugh), Emma Meaney (sub Aimee Duffy), Kirsty McLeod (sub Amy Harkins), Amy Whitters, Laura Dickson, Lauren Simmons (sub Hannah Draper), trialist (sub Avril Johnstone) Iona Bridges (sub Bethany Adamson), trialist, Eva Rule (sub Charlotte Holden), Ellie Roberts (sub trialist). 

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