Swifts stun Forfar
By Iwan Davies
Goals from Rachel Armstrong and Tara Laughlin secured the points for the Jeanie on the opening weekend of the league
A goal around the 35th minute of each half was enough to get the win for Jeanfield Swifts Women on their first outing in the SWFL2 North/East league in 2019.
A home tie against Forfar Farmington on the opening weekend was eagerly anticipated, and by the 4pm kick-off the players and coaches were buzzing on adrenalin.
The opening minutes saw two evenly matched sides looking for each other's weaknesses, and it was the home team's offside trap that was most effective initially.
The first attempt on goal came from a Paula Strathie corner for Jeanie, which was met by Rachel Armstrong on the edge of the 6 yard box but the right wing was unable to direct her header downwards and it went over the bar for a goal kick. Then on 12 minutes, the ball broke down the right, with Rachel feeding Tara whose shot was saved by the Forfar keeper diving low to her right. Two minutes later, Forfar won a corner on the left-hand side of the pitch, which was cleared behind by Lisa Stewart on the front post. From the second corner, Eilidh Davies' clearance met the head of a Forfar player before rebounding back of another Jeanfield player to the feet of the experienced Forfar midfielder, whose shot from close range couldn't help go over the line.
Forfar nearly extended their lead in the 22nd minute, with a shot from right hand side of the box, but Jeanfield keeper Claire Nellies closed the angle well and palmed the strike behind for a corner. The Angus side were now exerting more pressure, but again the Jeanfield offside trap caught their strikers. On 25 minutes a weak clearance from Jeanfield fell to a midfielder on the edge of the area and Nellies once again tipped a good shot well over the bar.
Following that 10 minute period of pressure from Forfar, the Jeanie women came back in to the game, and had a great chance to equalise in the 32nd minute when some nice interplay between Emma Flynn-Scott, Eilidh Davies and Rachel Armstrong on the right hand side saw the ball progress into the Forfar half, before finding its way over to the left with Lisa Stewart, whose pass to Jade Matthew put the striker into a great position, only for the referee to rule the Jeanfield player offside.
In the 35th minute, Tara Laughlin's touch took her round the Forfar keeper but away from goal. She turned the ball back inside, but Jade Matthew was unable to direct a shot. However the ball rebounded off a Forfar defender into the path of Eilidh Davies. Unfortunately the young midfielder's shot was high and wide. 30 seconds later, she won a corner and the resulting outswinger from Paula Strathie was met by the head of Rachel Armstrong who managed to direct her header into the bottom corner of the net to equalise.
The final 10 minutes of the first half saw both sides with chances to take the lead, but neither had the accuracy to finish them off.
With the floodlights at McDiarmid Park illuminating the second half, both teams were glad the pace of the game was maintained as the temperature dropped. The next chance dropped to Emma Flynn-Scott who had advanced up to the box but her shot was high. On 50 minutes Tara Laughlin had a shot, which was well saved. Tara had switched to right wing and was using her pace to great effect. With Jade Matthew dropping deep to pick up the ball from Eilidh Davies and Gemma Dolan in midfield, Tara was getting a good supply of ball up into the right hand corner.
While Forfar were squandering the few chances they had, Jeanfield were pressing and looked the more likely to score. The goal eventually came courtesy of a 35-yard effort from Tara Laughlin with 10 minutes to go.
Although Forfar pressed again in the dying minutes, Jeanfield held on comfortably to record the first three points of the new season.