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Caley Thistle Women ‘starting afresh’ with first Championship game of 2023, says manager Karen Mason

Caley Thistle Women manager Karen Mason. Image: SportPix.
Caley Thistle Women manager Karen Mason. Image: SportPix.

Caley Thistle Women manager Karen Mason says her side will be “starting afresh” when they play their first SWF Championship game of 2023.

The Caley Jags travel to Renfrew on Sunday for their first league game of the year, having not played in the Championship since November 27.

It is not their first game of the year, though, as Inverness played in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup last week, which ended in a 5-1 defeat to SWPL 1 side Glasgow Women.

That game, Mason says, was valuable minutes in the legs ahead of their return to league action, where Caley Thistle sit fourth in the Championship with 14 points, having won four and drawn two of their opening 13 games.

Going into the second-half of the season, Inverness are 12 points behind Renfrew, who sit in third, and 20 points off league leaders Livingston.

The Inverness boss says her side will be approaching the new year as a fresh start as they seek to close the gap at the top of the table, starting with Sunday’s opponents.

Mason said: “I was pleased with a lot of what I seen against Glasgow Women. We matched them in a lot of areas and it was good for our players to get a good run out after the festivities.

“It’s been a long lay-off since we’ve played in the league, so it’s massively important for us to start afresh and get out there and play how we know we can.

“We’re almost taking the new year as a complete new opportunity and if we manage to close the gap then we will see that as a success for us.

“The gap to Renfrew is 12 points and with the number of games we have left before the split, we could close that and catch up with them. That’s our target and it’s a realistic goal.

“We want to make sure that what we do going forward is an improvement on what we did last year, so we need to start off on the right foot.”

Caley Thistle have played Renfrew twice this season, with the first being a 3-2 defeat before a 0-0 draw up in the Highlands, so Mason hopes her side can go one better this time and pick up all three points on the road.

She said: “We know Renfrew well enough now and they’re strong at home, but looking back to the game we lost 3-2 – it was down to our own errors.

“We’re more than capable of getting a result on Sunday and we’ll go down there with a stronger and bigger squad, so it’s all to play for.

“We go in with confidence knowing we put in a good fight against Glasgow Women and our game before that we beat Livingston in the cup.”

North teams to make competitive debut in new fifth-tier

The Biffa SWFL North, the new fifth-tier, begins this weekend as new clubs Huntly, Inverurie Locos, and Dyce will make their first competitive appearances.

Huntly host Locos, who have announced their new sponsor as Cala Homes, at Christie Park, while Dyce welcome Stonehaven to Ian Mair Park. In the other game involving north teams, Buchan host Westdyke Thistle.

In the division above, SWF League One, Westdyke will be looking to bounce back from a fourth round Scottish Cup defeat to Kilmarnock, as they host Falkirk, who sit one place below them in third, at Lawsondale.

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