SWPL Cup: Noelle Murray pivotal in Glasgow City win over Stirling University

Glasgow City's Noelle Murray (middle) with Lauren Silver (left) and Megan Foley
Glasgow City's Noelle Murray (middle) celebrates her goal with Lauren Silver (left) and Megan Foley

A goal and an assist by Noelle Murray helped Glasgow City edge past Stirling University and into the semi-finals of the SWPL Cup.

The Irish international's first-half lob followed by Hayley Lauder's powerful shot gave the Scottish champions a 2-0 win.

Holders Hibernian eased past Rangers with a 5-0 home win.

Celtic and Spartans joined them in the last four with 4-1 victories over Hearts and Aberdeen respectively.

Better prepared

Glasgow City hammered Stirling 7-0 just two weeks earlier, so the visitors could have been forgiven for eyeing a return to the Excelsior Stadium with trepidation.

They would have been behind to an early goal had Abbi Grant managed to put more power behind her shot after Leanne Ross had picked her out in the penalty area.

Demi Falconer was the hero in the 22nd minute when she blocked a Ross shot after the Glasgow player had rounded keeper Chloe Logan.

And Stirling could have taken the lead when Rebecca Galbraith rose to meet a free-kick, but she headed just wide.

Spartans striker Carla Boyce (left) and Aberdeen defender Cassie Cowper
Spartans' Carla Boyce (left) battles Aberdeen's Cassie Cowper in their 4-1 win

It looked like Tommy Craig's side would make it to the break still level, but Logan's attempted punch fell kindly to Murray who lobbed the ball into the far corner.

It was a cruel end to the half but Stirling started the second confident they could live with City and Nicole Pullar had two good chances to level within a minute.

First she raced clear of the defence, but keeper Lee Alexander slid in to knock the ball away on the edge of the box.

Pullar then broke clear down the right but her shot drifted over.

It was City though who finished the stronger. Nicola Docherty picked out Megan Foley, but her shot was weak and straight at the goalkeeper.

However, a minute later Murray laid the ball off to Lauder and she smashed it into the roof of the net.

Glasgow could have added more goals but Sam Kerr knocked the ball wide at the back post before Lauder hit the post.

Aggressive

City head coach Scott Booth admitted his side found Stirling difficult to break down, but praised the impact of his pre-season signing Murray, who was Ireland's player of the year in 2016.

"Noelle can do that, she is such a talented player," Booth told BBC Scotland.

"It's always quite tough when you play against teams so close together. Players obviously learn a lot. They (Stirling) worked really hard, they were physical, they played a shape that made it difficult to break them down at times. Because they were aggressive and they stayed that way throughout the whole game it made it tough.

"But I thought in the second half we played some nice football, and we passed it round them a bit better."

Abi Harrison (left)
Abi Harrison (left) scored twice as Hibernian beat Rangers 5-0

SWPL Cup quarter-final results

Celtic 4-1 Hearts

Glasgow City 2-0 Stirling University

Hibernian 5-0 Rangers

Spartans 4-1 Aberdeen

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