Goals from Jane Ross either side of a Slovenian equaliser along with a second-half Kim Little penalty ensured that Scotland go into June’s crucial match with Iceland with maximum points.
Anna Signeul made two changes to the side that drew with Spain in Falkirk last month. Bayern Munich’s Lisa Evans returned to the team at the expense of Caroline Weir of Liverpool while Ifeoma Dieke, returning from injury, replaced Joelle Murray to partner Rachel Corsie in defence.
With four wins out of four in qualifying going into the match, Scotland’s early exchanges were executed with confidence. The attacking three of Jane Ross, Hayley Lauder and Lisa Evans were seldom static, tormenting the Slovenian defence with their flowing movement.
It was no surprise therefore when Ross opened the scoring after 19 minutes on a drizzly night at the home of St Mirren.
A neat interchange with Lauder set-up the Manchester City striker on the edge of the box, who then turned and slotted the ball past Eva Vamburger into the bottom corner of the goal.
Scotland looked to be in control for the rest of the half, but with the first 45 minutes drawing to a close, the visitors equalised through a looping header from Kristina Erman.
Just when it looked like the scores were going to be even at the interval, Jane Ross struck once more. A lovely one-two between Lauder and Kim Little resulted in a low cross across the six-yard box by the former. The Manchester City player duly obliged at the back post, netting her fourth goal in three games for club and country.
Her double also makes her the top goalscorer in UEFA Women’s EURO qualifying, with a remarkable eight goals in five games.
Five minutes into the second half, Scotland extended their lead. Little, who had been a constant threat throughout the match, was fouled by Dominika Conc inside the Slovenian penalty box. The Seattle Reign playmaker calmly placed the ball past a diving Vamburger to give Anna Signeul’s team some breathing space.
With 30 minutes to play Scotland brought on Caroline Weir and Leanne Ross, and both nearly added their names to the scoresheet. A clever ball from Weir ten minutes after her inclusion found her fellow substitute Ross at the edge of the box, but the Glasgow City player’s effort was saved by the impressive Slovenian ‘keeper.
Moments later Weir found herself through on goal, only for a terrific last-ditch tackle from Kristina Erman to prevent the Liverpool striker. Despite the increasingly physical style of play, Scotland kept their composure to see out the match and gain an important three points on the road to next summer’s finals in the Netherlands.
Next up for Scotland is their final home qualifier of the campaign against Iceland at the Falkirk Stadium.
Scotland: Fay (GK, C), Smith, Dieke, Corsie, Mitchell, Love, Crichton (Weir 61’), Lauder (L.Ross 64’), Little, Evans, J.Ross
Subs: Lynn (GK), Docherty, Arnot, Clelland, Murray
Source / photo – www.scotishfa.co.uk