Hearts Women were defeated 3-0 yesterday afternoon by title favourites Rangers in front of a sell-out crowd at Oriam.
There were two changes from last week’s match with Spartans, Lia Tweedie coming into the side for Monica Forsyth and Shona Cowan coming in at left-back, with Beth McKay moving up to left midfield in place of Maria McAneny.
The game plan from the beginning was clear, to force Rangers wide and limit them to long-range efforts and frustrate them, which was working to perfection inside the first half-hour until a cruel twist of luck. Tweedie went down with an injury and had to go off for treatment, with Rangers taking advantage of the gap in midfield to feed the ball to Lizzie Arnot, who curled a beautiful shot into the corner from 25 yards.
The power of running Hearts were doing was evident as both wingers, McKay and Aimee Anderson, were subbed off at the break to keep both relatively fresh with Forsyth and Holly Aitchison coming on, tasked with continuing to force Rangers away from the middle of the pitch. Rangers did manage to sneak through the backline of Georgia Hunter and Tegan Browning, who were both terrific, but Chelsea Cornet volleyed wide.
The second goal came, again, from a moment of quality from the visitors. Nicola Docherty, a second-half sub, played a one-two with Jane Ross and curled a shot into the corner from the edge of the area beyond Charlotte Parker-Smith, who had no chance. Rangers completed the scoring in the 86th minute when recent Scotland cap Brianna Westrup smashed home a loose ball from a corner as a tired Hearts side failed to clear.
Despite the fatiguing 90 minutes, there were great positives to take in terms of the positional discipline and shape, and Hearts should go into Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby with Hibernian in decent spirits.
Player of the match Tegan Browning spoke to heartsfc.co.uk after the match to give her thoughts:
“I think we did well in regards to how we managed our game plan in large parts. The aim was to prevent Rangers from playing through us, and we succeeded for a lot of the match. The first two goals we conceded were from outside the area, both right in the corner. Obviously they are a top-class team, so they can do that to you. Although we’re disappointed with the result, the way we performed and stayed together as a team and a unit are both positives we can take.
“They’ve had to resort to shooting from long range because they couldn’t get through us which means our game plan was working, but obviously they’ve got the quality to do it. The first half especially, they didn’t really have any chances, I think it’s something to be proud of. Eva’s message is ‘now we focus on the derby’. I don’t think many of us have ever played in front of a crowd like the one we’re going to get on Wednesday, but it’s something we’re excited about, this is good preparation and now we’re going to try and beat Hibs.”