I was glad Scotland Women were able to get back to winning ways in our friendly international match in Belfast on Thursday evening.
The team continued a 10-game winning streak over fellow home nation Northern Ireland with a 1-0 victory.
It was a much-changed starting XI from last time out against Portugal in February.
The only player to start both games was Claire Emslie and, with a number of senior players on the bench, Lee Alexander was given the captain’s armband for the first time.
There was also a chance, over the course of the 90 minutes, for a number of players to show what they can do.
Brianna Westrup was given her first cap, starting at centre-back, and she was later replaced by another debutant, Leah Eddie.
Stonehaven attacker Christy Grimshaw also came off the bench late on and immediately made an impact, almost setting up Fiona Brown to net a second for Scotland.
The winning goal came earlier in the second half, when Christie Murray was fouled inside the penalty area and substitute Caroline Weir slotted the resultant spot-kick low into the bottom right corner.
Being honest, it wasn’t the prettiest performance and for large spells the artificial surface seemed to prevent both teams from finding any passing rhythm.
From our perspective, we lacked a little bit of composure in key moments and would have hoped to have controlled and dominated the opening period much better than we did.
While Northern Ireland have earned their spot at Euro 2021 next summer, they are ranked far below us and these are games where the demand is on us to show a far higher standard across many areas of our performance.
The greatest difference between teams ranked highly and those below is often their capacity to play consistently at a quicker tempo and we need to ensure we don’t allow ourselves to play at a speed other teams can handle.
Many teams now have technically good players, along with having an infrastructure in place that means almost all International sides are organised and hard to beat. The gaps are closing and, if we are serious about getting back to the top, competing at all major competitions, we have to push our boundaries.
Scotland Women next face Wales on Tuesday night in Swansea to conclude our training camp. The game will be another hard-fought encounter, no doubt, but is another opportunity to showcase what we are capable of.
The team has now played the last two games in a 4-4-2 formation, experimenting with a diamond centrally. The style is new for almost everyone, but the squad is working hard to develop an understanding of how to utilise this new shape effectively.
We arrived in Wales late last night and will have three days of preparation on the pitch to work on improving some key things ahead of the game. The game was initially expected to be played without fans, but there is now some hope there could be a reduced capacity allowed into the match at Parc y Scarlets.
Aberdeen Women roar back to action – but tricky title run-in awaits
Aberdeen Women have returned to action in excellent form, after having to wait almost six months since their last regular season game back in mid-December.
SWPL 2 was delayed from restarting at the same time as the top-flight due to the lack of professional status in the second tier. In order to complete the season, the teams will now play an intensive run of matches over the coming weeks to have the 2020/21 campaign completed by early July.
The return to action saw Aberdeen comfortably get back to winning ways with a 7-0 thrashing of bottom-of-the-league side Stirling University at Cormack Park. The fixture was a favourable one, given the extended time away from competitive action, but nonetheless an emphatic start.
In midweek, there was the prospect of a trickier away game at Queen’s Park, however, despite not breaking the deadlock before half-time, a Francesca Ogilvie hat-trick was enough to take all three points back home in a seemingly convincing win.
With only six league games remaining, Aberdeen hold on to an eight-point lead at the top. They are currently sitting pretty ahead of Hamilton and Partick Thistle, with Dundee United also in the chasing pack, just a point adrift as well.
However, the Dons will face all three teams consecutively in the upcoming games and the gap could very quickly be reduced if Aberdeen let their quality slip under pressure. Having already beaten Accies and United in the reverse fixtures, this will bring some confidence ahead of a tricky run-in.
Good to see SWF chief executive vacancy filled
Scottish Women’s Football confirmed this week former MSP, Aileen Campbell, will replace Fiona McIntyre as their new chief executive.
McIntyre departed at the end of April to take on a role with the Scottish Football Association as Head of Girls’ and Women’s football.
The appointment of Campbell is welcome, as the role is important in ensuring the continued growth of the domestic game in Scotland during a crucial time for the sport.
British side to play Stoke friendly
Team GB will face Zambia on July 1 at Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium before heading to Tokyo to start their quest for a medal at the 2020 Olympic Games.