The final match of girls’ Scottish Cup Saturday saw Rangers come out on top against Central Girls at Toryglen despite a late scare.
League position would suggest Central FA went in as favourites, however anyone who saw the final would have witnessed two equally talented sides - it was evident from early on that it would not be a walk in the park for Central.
The stats were narrowly in the favour of Central Girls compared to their opponents, having two more corners, and three more overall shots than the eventual winners. However, the scoreboard offered a fair reflection over the piece.
Early in the game it was difficult for either side to really establish their mark and set the tone, as both sides press frantically, leaving passing options very small and meaning both sides had to resort for a long-option.
Hannah Robertson for Rangers looked the liveliest of all the players in the first half, as she raced through to score the first and was inches from adding a second shortly after, her pace was such a valuable asset for The Gers to use on the counter-attack.
Rangers had generally opted to play the ball and short on the deck, but the first time they really put anything into the box resulted in a goal, with the ball headed in at the back post from a deep cross to make it 2-0
Despite the 2-0 scoreline, Central Girls were still having their fair share of chances, but the goalkeeper for Rangers managed to hold onto the efforts on goal with relative ease.
Central also looked dangerous with their long-throw tactic, courtesy of Sophie Mauriello, which resulted in a series of corners for her side.
In the second half though it was a comfortable stroll for Rangers for a purple patch of 20 minutes, as Central were pinned back very deep, inviting pressure time and again while the Gers looked capable of scoring with every attack.
Once again, the direct ball into the box proved to be Central’s downfall as Rangers got their second goal as a result of another deep cross.
With about 15 minutes left there seemed to be no way back for the trailing side, who had attempted long balls over the Rangers defence for the majority of the half, trying to use the pace of their forwards to get in behind, whereas Rangers captain Natasha Donaghy was magnificent in clearing the ball away, despite suffering a calf injury and bravely playing on.
With time running out, the tactic eventually did pay off, as the long ball caught Rangers out and allowed Central to pull on back.
Clearly feeling they could create a remarkable comeback, Central went all out for it, pushing high up, with all 10 outfield players completely in the Rangers half on some occasions and completely pinning them back.
With three strikers now on the field, Central were causing panic with 10 minutes to go as a late flurry of throw-ins, corners and free kicks looked close to falling at the feet to one of their players.
In the final minute their counter-attacking proved to be crucial again as they got in behind and won a penalty with a minute left. However, it could only strike that bar and confirmed Rangers Scottish Cup win.
The second half began with Rangers continuing where they left off and Central unable to find that cutting edge up front. Lauren Doran-Barr, Robertson and Slaughter had a real grip of affairs with Central pushed deep for long spells as the half wore on.
The decisive third goal arrived just on the hour mark, as captain Natasha Donaghy rose at the far post to nod a Farquhar cross past Whittaker. It seemed to suck the life out of Central with the game seemingly out of sight.
And the game’s tempo slowed with Rangers on top and with one hand on the cup. They rang the changes, giving some substitutes the chance to apply some freshness to the game as Central struggled for a response.
The game almost burst back into life with 12 minutes left as Central finally discovered a way through, and it came from route one as through ball evaded the Rangers back line with Morgan Cross clean through to beat Elliot from close range.
A glimmer of hope then could be sensed as Central threw numbers forward and almost provided a grandstand finale. McEachran ran for her team throughout and almost carved out a few more openings, with Cross and Jade Lockie also getting into advanced areas.
With a minute left the impossible almost beckoned with Cross brought down in the area and the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. However, it was Elliot in the Rangers goal, clearly brimming with confidence, who came out on top. She saved to her right and seconds later the final whistle blew and the celebrations begin.
A deserved victory for Rangers, who rose to the Toryglen occasion in style. It wasn't Central's day, but with a very young squad for 17's level, you wouldn't bet against seeing them on this stage again next year.