IT was no coincidence that Leanne Ross was announced as the permanent Glasgow City head coach on International Women's Day. But if the timing was deliberate, it was a bonus for the club that they were able to parade her three days after last weekend's 1-0 win over Celtic.

The result has put Ross and her players in a very strong position to regain the SWPL title they lost to Rangers last season. The narrow win, achieved thanks to the vision of Maddie Fulton and the finishing of Priscila Chinchilla, provided a clear example of why, even although she is a novice in coaching terms, Ross deserves the job.

Although Anna Oscarsson should have put City ahead in the first half when she was left unmarked at a corner, Celtic had the best of the opening 45 minutes. That was also the case in the two cup finals between the sides last season when Eileen Gleeson was the City head coach – and in both Celtic remained on top and deservedly lifted the trophies.

The big difference on Sunday was that Ross could see what adjustments needed to be made at the interval, and, once implemented, the second half was a different story. It's premature – especially with the hectic schedule of tough matches to follow the split – to say the title is City's to lose, but the former captain and winner of 27 trophies as a player has galvanised performances since being put in interim charge.

“Obviously Leanne is synonymous with the club,” City co-founder and chief executive Laura Montgomery said. “She has been with us for almost 16 years and it has been fantastic to watch her journey as player, captain, assistant coach and now be able to give her the opportunity to be head coach.”

Montgomery confirmed that the job is a huge step up, even for a former player whose storied career included 135 Scotland caps.

“Like most new coaches, the thought of being in charge of such a big club can be slightly daunting – the expectations to win all the time,” she said. “But on a personal basis, myself and the board had absolutely no doubt she had the qualities to do it – it's not really a surprise to us that she has done so well so quickly.

“We were getting good results before Christmas, but it's plain for everyone to see that the performances have been a step above since then.”

Last season was the first since 2003 City failed to win a trophy. It was, Montgomery and Ross both admit, a shock to the system, but the chief executive said: “There was also a realisation that we were at a turning point in the club.

“We'd just changed head coach and we spent a lot of time last year putting in a lot of infrastructure. We've now got 27 full time players, we've got a full time backroom staff, full time training facilities.

“That's not something that happens overnight so you could say a lot of last year was spent getting the bedrocks right for this season.”


I WAS told, in confidence, at the Pinatar Cup that Scotland would be playing a friendly against World Cup co-hosts Australia in England next month. It was duly announced on Thursday evening that the April 7 game will be played at AFC Wimbledon's ground, while a second friendly will be played against Costa Rica at Hampden four nights later.

As the “hosts”, Australia are in charge of all the arrangements for the game, hence the 1.45pm kick off to suit television audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. They then play England at Brentwood on April 11, when they will surrender their host nation status to the host nation.

If Australia's terms for the friendly were that it had to be played in London, then a game is better than no game. But how very much better it would have been for the Scotland fans, and especially young ones, had such an attractive fixture been played here.


WEATHER permitting, the final round of fixtures before the SWPL split will all be played today at 4.10pm. If every game is played, the post-split schedule will be announced tomorrow – but should there be postponements clubs have been asked to play the games by Wednesday at the latest.

The only issue to be decided is which club will finish sixth and fill the last place in the top section. Partick Thistle will clinch it if they win at Dundee Utd, with Motherwell (at Aberdeen) and Spartans (at Hearts) the other teams in contention.