By Graham Semple
Glasgow City have lost 2-0 to Polish club, Medyk Konin, in the first leg of the round of 32 in the UEFA Champions League.
Second half strikes from Ewa Pajor and Aleksandra Sikora have put the Polish side in a commanding position ahead of the return leg at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie next week.
In a bright opening passage to the match, City signalled their attacking intent and came close to making a dream start. With two minutes gone Morgan Marlborough gathered a Nicky Docherty throw-in, turned her marker and forced the Konin goalkeeper, Anna Szymanska, into a superb save.
Slack play from the City rearguard then presented veteran, Anna Gawrońska, with an opportunity to race in on goal after six minutes but Lee Alexander was quick off her line to snuff out the danger. Almost immediately, Marlborough tested the Polish goalkeeper again as the Scottish champions continued their pursuit of an away goal.
City enjoyed the majority of the play in the first twenty minutes but clear goalscoring chances were few and far between. Gradually, Konin began to impose their game on their opponents and force the Glasgow side to retreat. Patrycja Balcerzak had a shot from distance which went well wide before the home side carved open their best opportunity of a tightly-contested first half. After 32 minutes a slick team move gave Sikora a good shooting chance inside the box but her effort went wide.
City came close to grabbing the lead eight minutes into the second half when a free-kick from Jo Love found the unmarked Eilish McSorley at the back post, but her volleyed attempt from close range was straight at the goalkeeper. It was a glorious chance for the visitors and just moments later they were made to rue that miss.
A long diagonal ball evaded the City defence and was latched on to by the much sought-after Pajor who lashed the ball home to give her side the lead.
City went in search of an equaliser and a Lauren McMurchie attempt from distance forced Szymanska to turn the ball round the post. From the resulting set-play, the goalkeeper flapped at the corner and the ball landed invitingly at the feet of Julie Nelson but she miscued her shot and the chance was gone.
With City pressing for the equaliser they were vulnerable to counter-attacks from their well-drilled opponents and with 64 minutes gone, the Poles doubled their advantage in fortuitous circumstances. An attempted cross from Sikora hit the inside of the post and landed in the net leaving Alexander with no chance.
Conceding a second goal was a bitter blow for City but they continued to push players forward in an attempt to hit back. Nelson was inches away from connecting with a Brown corner and Suzanne Lappin headed wide, but try as they might, the Scottish Champions could not reduce the arrears. The situation could have worsened near the end but a smart stop from Alexander denied Gawrońska and the match drew to a close.
The 2-0 scoreline was harsh on City. The Glasgow side did not play to maximum capability but they will be frustrated not to have converted any of the several chances that came their way.
Head Coach Eddie Wolecki Black was disappointed with the result and know his side have a lot to do back at Airdrie Excelsior Stadium next Wednesday. He said, “We certainly never performed and in football, especially at Champions League level you need to perform. We had chances but unfortunately we never took them when they came along. The first goal is very disappointing as when there are multiple errors it will end up in the back of your net and that is what happened. The second one was one of those things that happen. The girl has went to cross it and it has gone in off the back post.
“However, if ever we needed motivation to turn this around we just needed to look at their celebrations at the final whistle. The crowd was the 12th player for them tonight without a doubt and I hope we can get the same numbers and noise behind us next week as it really does make a difference.”
Glasgow City take on Medyk Konin in the return leg on Wednesday 15th October, 7.30pm. Entry is £5 adults, £2 kids and tickets can be bought in advance at www.glasgowcityfc.co.uk or at the turnstile on the night.
Medyk Konin: Szymanska, Katarzyna, Sikora, Hercigonja, Slavcheva, Gawronska (c), Grywinska (Szewczuk 90+3), Pajor, Zigic (Kamczyk 86), Pakulska, Balcerzak (Matysik 88)
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Kaluzna, Zawislak, Soltysiak
Glasgow City: Alexander, McSorley, Docherty, Black (c), Nelson, McMurchie (Grant 69), Love, O’Sullivan, Lappin, Brown (McCulloch 83), Marlborough (Fairlie 75)
Subs Not Used: Deiter, Farrell, Ross
Referee: Sandra Bastos (POR)