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Glasgow City set up a final match decider with Zhilstroy-1 after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Northern Irish side, Glentoran Belfast Utd, in UEFA Women's Champions League qualifying Group Four at the Excelsior Stadium.
A solitary first half strike from Courtney Whyte was enough to give City a vital three points and make it two wins from two.
With a 48 hour turnover period between matchday 1 and 2, City rotated their squad, making eight changes from the side that comfortably defeated Nove Zamky on Saturday. This significant alteration in personnel gave a number of young players the opportunity to sample the Champions League on a cold and wet evening in Airdrie.
In the early exchanges it was City who attempted to force the issue against their well drilled Irish opponents. Susan Fairlie, Carla Boyce and Leanne Crichton all had efforts that missed the target in a match where clear-cut chances were at a premium.
Leanne Ross was first to test Ashleigh McKinnon in the Glentoran goal with a free kick from 25 yards but it was comfortably gathered. Boyce then stung the palms of the Irish goalkeeper before the same player hit another speculative drive from distance that was almost fumbled into the net.
In the latter stages of the first half, City attacked with increased purpose and their patience and persistence was finally rewarded after 41 minutes. A corner from Ross was only half-cleared by the Glentoran defence and the ball landed at the feet of Whyte who steadied herself and guided the ball into the bottom corner to grab the vital opener.
The second half started disappointingly for City with Ross limping off injured and having to be replaced by Denise O'Sullivan. The loss of the captain did not disrupt the flow or pattern of the game however as the Scottish champions continued to dominate, and they soon came close to doubling their advantage. Crichton breached the Glentoran back line and cracked a right foot shot that was superbly tipped on to the post by McKinnon.
Fairlie, who was a constant threat, was next to try her luck but her shot was tipped round the post by the impressive Glentoran goalkeeper. The Glasgow side camped in their Irish rivals' half and enjoyed numerous corners, but the second goal continued to elude them.
As the match drew to a close, City continued to pepper the Glentoran goal with shots and crosses but a fine attempt from Fiona Brown was the closest they came to increasing the margin of victory.
Despite just a single goal separating the sides, this was a commanding win for City. Glentoran were restricted to the occasional foray up the park and rarely troubled Nikola Deiter in the Glasgow goal.
The group winners will now be decided on Thursday at 4pm at the Excelsior Stadium when City take on Ukrainian side FC Zhilstroy-1. A berth in the last 32 of the Champions League awaits the victors. Entry to the Glasgow City v FC Zhilstroy-1 match is via cash gate. £5 adults, £2 kids.
Glasgow City: Nikola Deiter, Lauren McMurchie, Leanne Crichton, Jane Boyce (sub Fiona Brown 76mins), Nicola Docherty, Kodie Hay (sub Abbi Grant 70mins), Courtney Whyte, Emma Black, Leanne Ross (sub Denise O'Sullivan 50mins), Susan Fairlie, Julie Nelson. Subs not used: Bonnie Farrell, Maxine Welsh, Eilish McSorley, Cheryl McCulloch.
Glentoran Belfast Utd: Ashleigh McKinnon, Jessica Foy, Lisa Downey, Kelly Bailie, Demi Vance, Nadene Caldwell, Gail Macklin, Annie Timoney, Lauren Wade, Katrina Montgomery (sub Eimhear O'Prey 79mins), Catherine Sheridan (sub Sarah Gamble 64mins). Subs not used: Jacqueline McCutcheon, Claire Rea, Louise Hilton, Sonia Ferguson, Suzanne Baxter.
(Report by Graham Semple)
Photo - Courtney Whyte scores the winner for Glasgow City (Graeme Berry).
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