Claire Rae was on spectacular form notching four goals as Renfrew Ladies defeated First Division Cumbernauld Colts to progress to the 1st Round of the Scottish.
The visitors started brightly and after 10 minutes a long range effort saw Sam McQuillian at full stretch to turn past for corner. A couple of minutes later saw a first chance for Renfrew as a long ball from Sam was knocked on by Lee Rossi. Claire outmuscled the last defender but shot wide from a narrow angle. In the 21st minute the same player chased a ball down the channel, beating a defender before lobbing the advancing keeper, but from narrow angle the ball settled on top of the net. The opening goal on 25 minutes came from the visitors. A quick throw in on the right hand side caught Renfrew napping, and a quick cross found a Colts player free and she made no mistake hitting the target to make it 1-0. The goal lifted Colts who then had a good period of possession although they didn't create any clear cut chances.
Just after the half hour a great move saw Sammy Jo Smith pass to Karen Baillie, who put the ball around the corner into the path of Claire who hit an unstoppable shot past the keeper from the edge of the box to make it 1-1. Three minutes later there was an almost identical result but this time Claire shot narrowly over. The Renfrew defence had to be sharp to clear from a quick breakaway before Natalie O'Neill had a shot blocked after nice work by Claire and Karen. Yet again Colts broke forward but Sam was out to narrow the angle and save well.
From Claire's free kick, Karen jumped with the keeper, and the ball fell invitingly to Natalie who saw her shot cleared off the line. With a couple of minutes remaining Sam saved well again before a great move saw Katrina Mulveny and Claire combine before the latter cut back to Karen whose shot was saved by the keeper at full stretch.
HT Renfrew Ladies 1 Cumbernauld Colts 1
As the temperature rose there was no let up in the action as firstly a breakaway from Cumbernauld forced a good save from Sam and then a shot by Claire from Sammy's cross saw another good diving save from Colts no.1
It was the 69th minute before another goal and it was the visitors who went ahead when their player beat the offside trap before rounding the keeper to make it 2-1. The first division side were on top, but once again Renfrew fought back. Karen had a shot well saved before Sophie Laird and Katrina combined to work the ball wide to Natalie who played a pass into Claire on the left hand edge of box. She cut inside and unleashed a shot which the keeper got a hand to but it found top corner to make it 2-2. The hosts were now pushing for the winner, and it was 3-2 after Karen was brought down in the box. Claire converted to get her hat trick and remarkably with 5 minutes left Renfrew were ahead.
But the drama wasn't finished as Renfrew gave away a free kick just outside the box. Sam failed to hold the powerful shot and the ball fell to a Colts player who scored from close range. With the equaliser coming with only two minutes left, extra time was looming. Renfrew lined up in the centre circle to restart the game. The ball was touched forward then back, and in a moment of magic Claire struck an unstoppable shot from inside her own half catching the keeper off her line and winning the match for the underdogs. Agonisingly for Colts in the last few seconds a header from a corner kick was just too high and Renfrew had recorded a famous win.
This was a great advert for women's football. Renfrew with five regulars missing through holidays, injuries and other commitments showed great character and strength to overcome their opponents. There was also no shortage of skill and three or four of the goals were top drawer.
Next week Renfrew welcome Dundee Utd Ladies to New Western Park in the Quarter Finals of the League Cup. It should be another cracking match.
Renfrew Sam, Sammy, Sophie, Eilidh, Jane, Lee, Kat, Karen, Erin, Claire, Natalie
Subs Gail, Sian
Reported by Alan Liddell
Renfrew Ladies FC