MATCH REPORT: FALKIRK WOMEN 1-0 STENHOUSEMUIR

Falkirk Women took on neighbours Stenhousemuir on Sunday in a top of the table clash, with both sides having won their opening two games.

The teams had been closely matched last season and once the game was underway it appeared there was still little between them. Stenhousemuir possibly shaded possession in the first half but didn’t create a chance worthy of mention, whereas Falkirk had two.

On 15 minutes Carolanne Cullen threaded the ball through the Stenny defence for Suzanne Wyatt to run onto. She took it beyond the keeper but was forced too wide to shoot. She still managed to play the ball into the box but sadly wasn’t able to find a navy blue shirt. On 37 minutes good linkup play between Wyatt and Eva Rule allowed Cullen a clear shot at goal from just inside the box. The keeper watched as her shot crashed off the bar and bounced out before being cleared.

The nearest Stenhousemuir came to scoring was from two free-kicks, both of which were given away by needless challenges from Falkirk players on the edge of their own box. The Stenny forwards couldn’t make the opportunities count though. Neither effort came close to being on target, never mind troubling goalkeeper Rachel Pirie. Pirie would go on to have a very quiet afternoon.

Six minutes into the second half Ellie Roberts cut inside from near the corner flag and curled in a shot which went just wide of the post. It was a statement of intent from Falkirk that they were moving up a gear.

Roberts was fouled just after the hour mark and from the resultant free-kick, fullback Lauren Shaw placed a quality ball on the head of Wyatt. The striker did almost everything right but yet again the crossbar came to the rescue of the Stenny keeper.

Roberts seemed to be involved in all the Falkirk attacks. On 78 minutes her pace took her past one defender, she cut inside to evade another and got her shot away just before a third could intervene but sadly it went wide of the post. She then latched onto a long ball, burst clear off the defence and got her shot away only to see the keeper save with her knees.

Falkirk now had complete control of the game and could have scored a minute later when the trialist winger got a shot away from inside the box. The keeper looked to have saved it, but the referee pointed for a goal kick. It would be the final stroke of luck that Stenny received during the game.

Falkirk have two qualities that have served them well in all the games so far; one is defenders and midfielders who have the vision and skill to pick a pass, the second is pacy forwards who punish any team that tries to play a high line against them.

In recent weeks centre-halves Laura Dickson and Iona Bridges have set up goals and left-back Lauren Shaw decided that she wanted a piece of the action. Her diagonal ball found Rule in behind and she made no mistake, scoring what would turn out to be the winning goal with three minutes left to play. One of the Stenhousemuir players felt she was offside and was shown a straight red for dissent.

So with three weeks of the season gone Falkirk are now clear at the top of the table, two points above Westdyke and FC Edinburgh.

Line-up: Rachel Pirie, Lauren Shaw, Iona Bridges, Laura Dickson, Rhianne Ferguson, Lauren Simmons, Charlotte Holden (sub Avril Johnstone), Carolanne Cullen, Ellie Roberts, Suzanne Wyatt (sub trialist), Eva Rule. Subs not used: Sarah-Louise Waugh, Emma Meaney, Kirsty McLeod, Fiona Gardner, Caitlyn Stewart.

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