By Lois Smillie
Falkirk travelled to East Ayrshire on Sunday to face Stewarton United in the first round of the Women’s Scottish Cup.
Stewarton saw the first chance of the match very early on when a mistake from a Falkirk defender allowed the hosts to have a shot on goal. The effort was saved by Rachel Pirie, who didn’t have much to do for the rest of the match.
Falkirk got their first goal within the opening 10 minutes and from there, it was all downhill for Stewarton. Daisie Donegan’s long ball through the defence reached Kirsty Gilbert, who was driving up the left-hand side of the pitch. Upon entering the box, Gilbert played the ball around the goalkeeper before sending it into the back of the net.
Soon after, Iona Bridges found herself powering through the midfield. Her pass found Vicky Wood who was played onside by the Stewarton defence. Wood spotted the goalkeeper off her line and smartly chipped the ball over her head double Falkirk’s lead.
Midway into the first half, the opportunity for a third goal arose as Falkirk were awarded a corner kick. Kirsty Gilbert’s cross found its way to Suzanne Wyatt, who headed home, scoring her first competitive goal of the season.
Falkirk were running riot and, seven minutes later, Kirsty Gilbert latched on to a searching forward pass from Erin Sludden. Gilbert then passed to Iona Bridges, who sent a right-footed strike past the keeper and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Falkirk squeezed another in before half-time courtesy of Eva Rule. After the ball had been played through to her, she made a powerful run towards the goal. While her first shot was initially deflected, she was quick to act and ensured that the ball saw the back of the net to send Falkirk into the break with a five goal lead.
Head Coach Craig Tully made four changes for the second half, replacing Kirsty Gilbert with youngster Ella Stewart and Vicky Wood for Lauren Simmons. Captain Lauren Shaw made way for Taylor Johnston, handing over the captain’s armband to Eva Rule. Goalkeeper Rachel Pirie came off for Sarah-Louise Waugh who made her first appearance for the women’s first team this season. Shortly after the second half had begun, Kirsty McLeod was brought on in place of Ellie Roberts.
Early into the second half, Falkirk saw what should have been their sixth goal of the match. A Falkirk mistake led to Stewarton United gaining possession but a determined Suzanne Wyatt won the ball back and sent a lobbed pass to Iona Bridges. Her volley hit the bar, bouncing back into Stewarton possession.
Falkirk finally scored their sixth on the hour mark. A long ball from Bridges found its way to Wyatt just outside of the penalty area. Wyatt then sent a right-footed strike hurling towards the goalkeeper who was unable to keep the effort out.
Four minutes later Eva Rule scored her second of the game. There wasn’t much time for anybody to react as Rule met Ella Stewart’s corner, sending the ball flying through a crowd of bodies, past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Wyatt’s hat-trick came in the 70th minute. Ella Stewart found Wyatt with a pass and she tapped the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper to score her third goal of the match.
The ninth and final goal of the game came just two minutes later. Another long ball from Daisie Donegan found Eva Rule who who made no mistake in completing her hat-trick.
The referee blew the whistle for full-time exactly as the clock hit 90, putting Stewarton out their misery. With the win, Falkirk booked their place in the second round of the Women’s Scottish Cup and will face Glenrothes Strollers on the weekend of the 5th of November.
Falkirk return to league action next week at the Falkirk Stadium against Giffnock SC. The match will be played on the main pitch, kicking off at 3pm. Get along if you can and support the girls this season on their journey to promotion!
LINE-UP: Rachel Pirie (sub Sarah-Louise Waugh), Lauren Shaw (sub Taylor Johnston), Iona Bridges, Claudia Stewart, Vicky Wood (sub Lauren Simmons), Eva Rule, Suzanne Wyatt, Ellie Roberts (sub Kirsty McLeod), Kirsty Gilbert (sub Ella Stewart), Daisie Donegan, Erin Sludden.