Caley Thistle Women manager Karen Mason believes her side’s 12-0 defeat to Rangers in the Scottish Cup can be used as a positive learning experience.
Jane Ross bagged a first-half brace, while Kirsty MacLean, Sarah Ewens, Lizzie Arnot and Brogan Hay found the back of the net to give Rangers a 6-0 lead at half-time.
Rangers picked up where they left off after the break as Rachel Rowe scored a brace, Eilidh Austin scored a long-range effort and Rio Hardy netted a hat-trick as the visitors secured an emphatic 12-0 win in the third round of the cup.
It was always going to be a tough ask for third-tier Caley Thistle coming up against full-time professional side Rangers, who sit undefeated at the top of the SWPL table.
A positive, despite the defeat, was the match played out in front of a record attendance for a women’s game in Inverness, with 1,031 fans inside the Caledonian Stadium.
And Inverness manager Mason believes the cup clash is one her side can take plenty of learnings from.
She said: “It was a brilliant learning experience. That level of play, the level of player, the tempo and how they move the ball – it is everything we anticipated.
“It shows exactly why they are the best team in Scotland at the moment. The girls really enjoyed it, albeit it is a loss, but it was great to play against them.
“It was never about the result. We knew coming into it the game that it was going to be a difficult and we weren’t really expected to get anything from it.
“The score never mattered to us as long as we kept going right to the end and we didn’t give up which I don’t think we did throughout the game. I’m so proud of the girls and they’re proud of each other for their efforts.”
Mason was delighted to see a record crowd inside the Caledonian Stadium, as she added: “I really didn’t expect it.
“I thought if we could get a couple hundred, but to have over a thousand is excellent and just shows the growth of the game in the Highlands.
“Obviously a team like Rangers coming up has attracted more people to come up as well.
“It was great to play in front of that crowd, and play at the stadium. It was a great day out overall.
“If we keep doing well in the league we can play these big teams week in, week out, and not just in a one-off cup tie.
“That has given us a bit of fire in our bellies now to push on in the league and use that experience to do us well, and try to get into the Premier League to have these experiences more often.”
Rangers manager Potter praises Caley Thistle
Jo Potter named a strong Rangers starting XI with nine internationals hailing from Wales, the Netherlands, New Zealand and six from Scotland – while 23-time capped Rachel McLauchlan, who hails from the Black Isle, missed out due to injury.
The Rangers head coach was pleased with her side’s ruthless display in the Highlands, but was also keen to credit Inverness for their efforts.
Potter said: “It was a really worthwhile game for us. I was impressed with how Inverness set up and how they had a real good go at us.
“It’s important for us in games like this that we are professional and produce a performance we’re happy with like we would in any other game.
“The process for us during the week was the same if we were playing Inverness or playing Celtic.
“Consistency helps with our team preparation and how we perform. I think you can see from our performances of late how we want to play.
“Credit has to go to Inverness. We saw a record crowd here today and that’s credit to the club and what they did by putting the game on at the stadium and opening the gates to a donation.
“Getting bodies through the door is what it is about and it shows what we can done. It’s a great spectacle to get that many people through to watch the game.
“It is great for people to see what a good show Inverness and the players put on on the pitch. You can see they never stopped from minute one right up until the end.
“They can be really proud of themselves today.”
The other Scottish Cup results
Clint Lancaster handed debuts to all three of his new signings – goalkeeper Jeni Currie, defender Lois Edwards, and midfielder Keeley Banfield – as Aberdeen Women came from behind to beat SWPL 2 side Boroughmuir Thistle 3-1.
The Edinburgh outfit took the lead through Emily Arthur before second-half goals from Bayley Hutchison, Hannah Innes and Hannah Stewart secured the win for the Dons.
Speaking to RedTV after the win, manager Lancaster said: “When you’re playing a cup game the most important thing is getting the win and getting to the next round.
“It certainly wasn’t the best performance in the first half, but we got three new players who started for us and we’ve had the two week break, so a bit of a shaky start.
“On the whole there was only one team who deserved to win the game and it would have been a bit of a shame had we lost that or not won it in the 90 minutes. We deserved to win it.”
SWFL North side Dyce’s impressive Scottish Cup run came to an end as they were beaten 5-0 by SWPL side Dundee United at home.
Westdyke, who play in the SWF Championship alongside Caley Thistle, also exited the cup in the third round following a 2-1 loss at home to SWPL 2 side Stirling University.