Hearts and Rangers were even in Edinburgh in a goalless match that saw plenty of the midfield, occasional bite, and few chances.
Bar an early Hearts shot drifting left, the opening exchanges were mild. Hope for the hosts came in the skilled touches and turns of Jennifer Margaret Dodds and the presence of strike partner Emma McFadyen, while Rangers’ effort to locate their opponent’s vulnerability by rotating the ball through midfield was admirable. Yet by the 15th minute there had been no further strikes at goal as both defences pushed play into the middle 30 metres of the park.
A thaw in that defensive dominance began to appear as the half evolved, with Hearts the first to threaten just before the 20 minute mark. McFadyen floated a lob wide right after miscommunication in the Rangers back line, and a minute later a challenge between Dodds and Rangers keeper Chloe Rae required a clearance from behind the Glaswegians’ number one. With Hearts pushing forward, Rangers went long, and Leah Mulrine almost reached captain Ellie Macdonald’s lofted pass.
Nonetheless, it was the home side for whom the chances were beginning to fall, and when Dodds emerged from some touchline tackling in the 27th minute she was free of the fullback on the right and able to cross. McFadyen’s header went past Rae but also the post.
Rangers’ ship steadied and the half subsequently fell into another midfield battle. The first signs of needle crept in as space diminished, and it was unsurprising that the final chance of the half came from pressing rather than passing, with Rangers almost undoing themselves from their own goal kick but McFadyen hitting wide.