IT may be too early to predict a changing of the guard, but Rangers' 5-0 win over Glasgow City seven days ago was an impressive statement. It also had an immediate impact on the SWPL1 table, enabling the winners to go top on goal difference.

The result was significant for another reason. Previous closest challengers Hibernian couldn't find a way to beat City in the league, despite regular cup wins. For Rangers to do so in the first encounter of the season quickly cleared that potential psychological hurdle.

With Celtic only two points behind there is now a welcome three-team title race. How will the clubs respond during the winter break?

City already have Cailin Michie and Republic of Ireland internationalist Niamh Farrelly lined up to strengthen their defence, with Costa Rica striker Priscila Chinchilla also in the pipeline and perhaps others to follow. Rangers fielded a trialist central defender in a midweek friendly against Hamilton and look certain to strengthen that position. Celtic are also understood to be in player talks.

The Rangers defeat was sandwiched between two more for City against Sparta Prague. The latest, a 1-0 loss at Broadwood on Wednesday night, ensured there will be no Champions League last 16 football for Scott Booth's side.

While that has financial implications – clubs reaching that stage receive £68,000 – it may help City domestically. Rangers and Celtic played just seven competitive games between mid-October and last weekend, but City had eleven because of their European commitments.

Two of these additional matches went to extra time and penalties, and there were also trips to Iceland and the Czech Republic. Whether they like it or not, the coaching staff and players can now concentrate solely on the huge challenge thrown down by their two Glasgow rivals.

HeraldScotland:

WHILE City, as Hayley Lauder bluntly admitted, didn't do enough to deserve to go through against Sparta Prague over the two legs, one aspect of the opposition's behaviour at Broadwood was obnoxious.

Gamesmanship is an inevitable part of professional football, and Sparta were clearly no novices in that department. But what cannot be tolerated under any circumstances is spitting on other players.

That it happened three times according to the home players and staff, including twice to 19-year-old central defender Jenna Clark, is beyond rational comprehension. For it to happen amidst a pandemic is far, far worse.

Although the match was televised, the alleged incidents were off-the-ball and don't appear to have been picked up by the cameras. So, while City complained to Portuguese referee Silvia Domingos at half-time, and formally to the Uefa match delegate at the end, it's unlikely Sparta will face any sanctions.

City did have a GoPro camera behind a goal, and footage from that was later also sent to the match delegate. Chief executive Laura Montgomery said: “Although you can't see clearly because of the net and the rain, you can definitely see Jenna react and point to her shirt. You can also see their player then wiping her mouth.”

Asked whether the match delegate's report had been received, and what punishments might follow if the allegations could be proved, a Uefa spokesperson said: “At this stage we don't have any information to communicate regarding the opening of any disciplinary proceedings.”

Whatever does or doesn't ensue, we can remember December 16, 2020, as the day when the term ladies football officially became obsolete.

HeraldScotland:

REMARKABLY, given she has been one of the best players in the league for many seasons, Lisa Robertson's Scottish Building Society SWPL player-of-the-month award for November was a first.

“I've never been nominated for anything like this before,” the Celtic midfielder said. “I've never won a player-of-the-year, a player-of-the-month, or anything. I was close one time at Hibs, but Lizzie Arnot won it, which was fair enough.”

Robertson, who is 28 and has also played for Glasgow City, returned from a spell at English Championship side Durham to join Celtic's upgraded set-up in January. But signing a full time contract didn't mean a suspension of her painting and decorating business.

Robertson still puts in almost a full working week despite daily return trips across the M8 for training. How does the player cope, while simultaneously turning in performances and scoring goals worthy of her award?

“With great difficulty, but I make it work,” she responded. “I could employ somebody, but people phone for me if you see what I mean.

“In the past I've had people come in and do jobs when I've been too busy, but I don't think I could rely on somebody consistently because at the end of the day it's my business.”