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.

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SWPL1 – Motherwell v Rangers

Two goals deep into second half injury time saw Rangers rescue a point in dramatic fashion as a depleted Motherwell side were unable to hold out for victory with seven minutes remaining of this SWPL1 clash at Ravenscraig.

Both teams had come into this encounter on the back of a poor recent run of results and the home side were hampered before a ball was kicked as they were only able to list one fully fit substitute. Visiting head coach Amy McDonald made seven changes to the side that was defeated 5-1 by Glasgow City in the SWPL Cup Semi Final last time out with a number of experienced faces coming into the starting line up. It was the Women of Steel that started the quickest though and, after a long range effort from Chelsea McEachran was juggled to safety by Rangers goalkeeper Jade Baillie, they took the lead with 15 minutes on the clock. Good work down the left by Lori Gardner, who was dangerous throughout the first half, saw her cut inside and hit a shot that was deflected on route to the goal. In the resulting race for the ball it was Mhairi Fyfe who managed to gain control to poke the ball past Baillie.

Two minutes later Motherwell found themselves two nil up. Gardner was again at the centre of things as she picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and, with no pressure forthcoming from the Rangers defence, hit a dipping long range effort that made its way into the top right hand corner of the net. It was a high quality strike from a player who was continuing to cause problems with her willing running and trickery despite not being 100% fit herself.

Rangers eventually awoke from their early slumber and started putting pressure on the Motherwell goal but were resorted to long range efforts up until the stroke of half time where an error from goalkeeper Morgan Hunter should have given the visitors a way back in. Her fumble fell to the feet of striker Carla Boyce but she dwelled on the ball for too long with her eventual shot being blocked thanks to a diving Kirsten Rolph in the ‘Well defence.

Rangers made two changes at half time in attempt to find the breakthrough but it was Donald Jennow’s side who would extend their lead on the hour mark. Right midfielder Sarah Crilly found herself in yards of space on the edge of the Rangers area and maintained her composure to steer the ball into the top left hand corver. That seemed to be game over but with twenty minutes to go Rangers ability to freshen things up started to tell as fatigue set in for the hosts. With pressure building McDonald rolled the dice one final time bringing on Holly Napier and newly crowned Rangers Women’s Player of the Year Amy Muir and both players would play a part as Rangers completed a remarkable comeback. Firstly on the 83rd minute Muir was the recipient of a long cross field pass on the corner of the Motherwell area and, after taking the ball down she took a couple of strides before rifling an angled drive past Hunter. It would have been easy for the visitors to accept that as nothing but a consolation but with the home players looking increasingly weary the momentum had shifted in the Light Blues favour.

The likelihood of a comeback was increased further when Motherwell keeper Hunter was unable to get enough of a hand to Jade Gallon’s low long range drive with the midfielders 92nd minute strike reducing Rangers deficit to one with time still on the clock. The fresh legs of Muir had the home defence reeling and it would be her near post corner in the 94th minute that would fall to fellow substitute Napier who was able to get free and snatch what had seemed a highly unlikely point for the Glasgow side.

Motherwell will be left to rue a lack of player availability through injury and suspension especially after being 3-0 up with half an hour left to play but conversely Rangers Head Coach McDonald will have been pleased to see her side eventually take advantage of their hosts tiredness during what has been a challenging few weeks for her side.

Full Time: Motherwell 3-3 Rangers

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Rolph, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner, McEachran, Roberts, Fyfe, Adams

Subs: McManus, MacLeod, Liddell.

Goals: Fyfe (’15), Gardner (’17), Crilly (’60)

Rangers: Baillie, Inglis, Donnelly, Watson, Brown, Gemmell, Robertson, Sinclair, J. Gallon, McCartney, Boyce.

Subs: Ramsay, Coakley, Dalgliesh, Pullar, Napier, Muir, L. Gallon

Goals: Muir (’83), J. Gallon (’90+2), Napier (’90+4)

SWPL: Motherwell 0-4 Hibernian

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A double from Scotland capped midfielder Rachel Small helped Hibernian maintain their place at the top of the SWPL1 after a hard fought win under the roof of the Ravenscraig Sports Centre as players and spectators alike were protected from the elements in this match day three encounter.

The last time these two sides met was in the 2018 Scottish Cup Final where the Women of Steel were overwhelmed 8-0 in one of the most one sided final’s in recent memory. It soon became apparent though that this game would not be as easy for the visitors. An early Jamie-Lee Napier effort aside, that was well stopped by Morgan Hunter, Hibernian struggled to break down a well organised and resolute Motherwell defence. However the pressure started to tell as the first half entered its final few minutes and although the Motherwell defence were able to get back on the line in time to stop Joelle Murray’s 39th minute header they weren’t able to see the half through. The impressive Napier again burst down the left and after putting a dangerous cross into the box the ball fell to the edge of the area where a shot cracked off the underside of the bar only for Small to nod the ball home from the resulting melee from closer range.

Motherwell though after absorbing much of the pressure in the first half started the second period brightly, however the final ball and poor decision making soon cost them. After Napier had another effort with this time the crossbar proving to be her nemesis, she was soon back in the action providing the final pass for Lauren Davidson to give the Hibees a 2-0 lead after 65 minutes again as a result of good work from Small. The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts and Small scored again goal direct from a corner six minutes later before a Kirsten Reilly free kick in the 81st minute rounded out the scoring with Hunter in the Motherwell goal no doubt feeling that she could have done better with both.

Whilst the 4-0 final scoreline may have been harsh on the home side it was also a just reward for the manner in which last year’s runners-up went about their business in maintaining their position at the top of the table. For Motherwell, there was signs of progress and they will no doubt look to bounce back in midweek against Celtic at K Park.

Motherwell 0-4 Hibernian (Small 44 & 71, Davisdon 65, Reilly 81)

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Welsh, Ralph, Rafferty, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner, McEachran, Adams Subs: Hutchison, Russell, Fyfe, McManus, Roberts

Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Hunter, Tweedie, Davidson, Leishman, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Small, Reilly Subs: Williamson, Michie, Cavanagh, Currie, Gallacher, Fish, Morrison

Today’s SWPL1 Results:

Spartans Women 1-5 Celtic Women

Rangers Women 2-1 Forfar Farmington

Glasgow City 5-1 Stirling University

Motherwell Women 0-4 Hibs’ Ladies