Aberdeen Women manager Clint Lancaster admits the first half of the SWPL season has had its ups and downs for his side.
The Dons manager has reflected on the first half of the campaign ahead of his team’s final game of the calendar year against Hibernian at Cormack Park on Saturday.
Despite having one more game to play in 2023, Aberdeen will go into the new year in seventh place, regardless of the result against Hibs – with Lancaster’s side currently six points clear of eighth-placed Motherwell and seven points behind their sixth-placed weekend rivals.
Reds boss Lancaster thinks it has been a rollercoaster opening 15 league games, with both positives and challenges.
He said: “I’m looking forward to it being the last game of the calendar year.
“It has been an up and down season up until this point. There have been things to be positive about, but there are still plenty of things that we need to work on.
“We have more points than they had last season, which is obviously a positive considering the squad I’ve had this season is vastly different to the one that was here last year.
“It is quite an achievement that we’ve accumulated the amount of points (19) that we have already.
“The youngsters coming through the academy has been another positive – albeit it has been out of my control. I’ve had to use them, but they’ve come in and they’ve done well.
“Those would be the biggest positives for me.
“It has been tough, too. It got pretty tough after the midweek game at Hibs where both the players I signed in the summer got injured and were ruled out for the season.
“Since then it has been a challenging period, although we have had some good results, we have had games where we should have picked up more points than we did.
“There have been frustrating periods, but they are behind us now and we can move on.”
New year will bring new recruits to Dons
Lancaster is determined to start 2024 with a bolstered squad, as he explained: “I will bring people in and it is as simple as that – we have to bring bodies in.
“No matter where we are in the table, this group needs support and I will be bringing more bodies in for sure.
“I have not necessarily put a number on it. It’s a case of seeing who is available. I’ve had really good conversations with a lot of players and managers who I know very well.
“It has been positive some of the chats that I have had with people and players about coming to join us, so I think we will see some new faces in the group in January.”
With Lancaster moving to the north-east of Scotland from England, he boasts a network of contacts north and south of the border.
The Aberdeen manager added: “Since I have been here, we have played everybody once and I have got a good relationship with all the managers here.
“I am quite fortunate in regards to my network in the women’s game.
“I am in contact with a lot of the managers down south, so I am looking all over the place with players based in Scotland, England and in Wales.”
Lancaster thinks Aberdeen played well in earlier defeats to Hibs
The Dons have already played Grant Scott’s Hibs side twice this season: a 5-0 loss in the league and a 6-2 defeat in the Sky Sports Cup.
This SWPL match has been moved to Saturday – rather than Sunday afternoon – so it does not clash with Aberdeen men’s Viaplay Cup final against Rangers at Hampden.
Lancaster said: “In the league game I thought we were the better team until we conceded the first goal.
“Then we had the injuries, the red card and it just was a downwards spiral from there.
“We were right in that game, and then in the cup, we took the lead, but then it is a mentality thing when you are managing young players – we have to bounce back from setbacks.
“A setback in a game for these players might be giving the ball way and they take it to heart and might find it hard to recover from.
“So conceding a goal can have quite a big impact, but have to make sure that when it happens we try to improve.
“We have played well in spells when we have played Hibs before, so we will give it a good go.”