SWPL2 – Hamilton Academical v Glasgow Girls

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Hamilton Academical produced a dominant performance on route to a 3-0 victory over promotion rivals Glasgow Girls. Goals from Kirstie McIntosh, MT Gardiner and a stunning finish from Dionne Brown means that Accies head into Sunday’s clash with bottom of the table Hutchison Vale knowing that a defeat of the Edinburgh side would see them go into the mid-season break top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 table.

In a keenly fought opening period it was the home side who nearly took the lead with only a minute on the clock, a block from away keeper Louise Donohoe the only thing preventing Girls from having to recover from an early deficit. The Glasgow side would have an early opportunity of their own though as Jayney Saunders was put clean through but her effort on the angle went tamely wide.

Hamilton were starting to take control though, providing a constant threat down either wing with both McIntosh and Gardiner looking to repeatedly stretch the visiting defence. It would be the former who would break the deadlock on the 29th minute. A fine through ball from full back Nina Fitzsimmons put the pacy midfielder clean through on the right hand flank. With only the onrushing Donohue to beat she was able to stroke the ball in from the corner of the area, the ball having just enough pace to beat the recovering defence. That opener saw Gary Doctor’s side begin to dominate further and they nearly went two up when a ball put in by Gardiner reached the head of defender Dani Connolly but she was only able to direct her close range header onto the base of the post.

The Lanarkshire side’s pressure continued at the start of the second period and on the 61st minute they got the second goal they deserved. Good play down the right saw McIntosh break at pace where, after a quick look up, she put a ball across to forward Gardiner who found herself in acres of space inside the area from where she put the ball past a diving Donohue, just reward for a night of hard running from the striker. A couple of minutes later a long range free kick from Girls midfielder Emma Porteous looped towards the Accies goal and it was only a combination of cross bar and home stopper Lauren Grant that prevented John Doyle’s team from getting back into the game.

That was to be it for the visitors though as on the 68th minute the home side sealed the three points. A long ball over the top made its way to Dionne Brown with the striker showing plenty of composure in space to score a stunning strike that means a victory at the Saughton Enclosure on Sunday will see those in red and white be in a position to look down on their SWPL2 challengers heading into the summer. For Glasgow Girls it was a night to forget but in this incredibly competitive league nothing remains certain.

Hamilton Academical’s goal scorer, Kirstie McIntosh: “I thought we played well first half and we went in one nil at the break. The second half we really kicked on and started to create lots of chances.

On playing Hutchison Vale on Sunday: “We can’t take anything for granted, we’ve had two really good results, here and against Partick, so we need to kick on and make sure we keep these performances and results up.”

Hamilton Academical’s Head Coach, Gary Doctor: “It was a good performance from an attacking side and we were frustrated not to have more goals at half time but I felt our will and conditioning would see us through until the end. The players are hungry, we have found a bit more rhythm up front which is good to see considering we started the season with a whole new forward line.

On playing Hutchison Vale on Sunday: “It could be a banana skin for us and we can’t take anything for granted. Hutchie Vale will get a result against somebody so we have to make sure this result isn’t wasted.”

Hamilton Academical 3-0 Glasgow Girls

Hamilton Academical Scorers: McIntosh (29), Gardiner (61), Brown (68)

Hamilton Academical: Grant, Quinn, Connolly, Fraser, McIntosh, Anderson, Fitzsimmons, Bulloch, Muir, Quigley, Gardiner. Subs: McCann, Brown, Sturrock, Kane Wilson, Donald.

Glasgow Girls: Donohue, Smith, Gallagher, Armit, McTear, McGuire, Kerr, Porteous, Saunders, Docherty, McEwan Subs: Logan, Coleman, Ferrol, Cameron, McDonald, Shaw, MacLeod, Ashe.

 

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SWPL2 – FC Kilmarnock v Hamilton Academical

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A 75th minute goal from substitute Dionne Brown was enough to send Hamilton Academical to the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL2 table after a closely fought Easter Sunday encounter at a baking Rugby Park. The conditions were such that the referee called for water breaks in each half and it would be these conditions coupled with a Killie schedule that saw them playing three games in a week that would prove to be key as the match went on.

The first half was not one for the purists and whilst it was competitive neither side could quite seize the initiative and chances were at a premium. An early long-range free kick  from Accies midfielder Chloe Muir which did enough to sting the palms of Lauren McGregor in the Kilmarnock goal was the only action of note in the opening half hour. As the half progressed home side winger Kirsty Munro was starting to have some joy. First her ball across the six yard box on the 37th minute was primed for a forward’s foot to get on to but unfortunately for the home side none were forthcoming. Munro continued to probe though and some nice interplay with captain Lisa Swanson presented Monica Harty with a chance but that was unable to convert. Hamilton had chances of their own though. A powerful run and drive from Jade Lindsay after she dispossessed Swanson in midfield produced a smart save from Lauren McGregor whilst on the stroke of half time neat work again from Lindsay saw a Kirstie McIntosh effort stopped once more by the keeper.

The second half continued to prove that this game was to maintain its status as an even contest and it would be Kilmarnock that would have the first chance of the half after good work from Swanson put team-mate Clare Docherty through but Hamilton keeper Lauren Grant was there to snuff out the danger. As the half wore on though the visitors, with their ability to freshen things up, started to take more control of the game. After a McIntosh effort slid just by the Kilmarnock post having been played through by substitute Amy Bulloch their pressure paid off a few minutes later. Good work from McIntosh on the Hamilton right saw her cross make its way to the back post and, after missing everyone in the area, it fell to MT Gardiner on the opposite side who jinked past one defender before putting the ball across to Dionne Brown who slid home what would turn out to be the winner.

Knowing that victory could send them to the top of the table the visitors pressed for a second but were unable to capitalise on their advantage and it was the home side who nearly snatched a point in injury time with Amy Burrows free kick from the edge of the area just going wide.

Whilst the Lanarkshire side took home the three points this was another encounter that went to show that anything is possible in the tightly contested SWPL2 this season.

Hamilton Manager Gary Doctor: “We should have managed it better towards the last few minutes of the game but it’s all about wins now. Literally every game has an impact and it was massive just to win. We’re now in a position where it’s in our own hands now.”

Goalscorer Dionne Brown: “I’m just happy to get the three points the girls and coaches put a lot of effort into training so delighted with the result. We’re in this league to win it so coming into this and taking away the three points is a massive thing for us.”

FC Kilmarnock Manager Stewart Hall: “Absolutely gutted, we played very well in the first half but in the second half we started to tire which can happen when you play three games in a week. Some of the girls have played all three 90 minutes (against St. Johnstone and Partick Thistle too) adn we’ve also had jig about our formation.

We’re not playing badly in these games and we’re not going to ask the girls to do anything different other than putting the ball in the back of the net.”

FC Kilmarnock: McGregor, Neil, Murphy, Docherty, Burrows, Robinson, Munro, Docherty, Fleming, Harty, Swanson,

Subs: Little, McCulloch, Otto

Hamilton Academical: Grant, McWhirter, Fraser, Mcintosh, Anderson, Sturrock, Fitzsimmons, Muir, Quigley, Gardner, Lindsay

Subs: Quinn, McCann, Brown, Kane, Bulloch, Ross

Goal: Brown (’75)

An audio version of this report including all interviews can be found here.