SWPL2 – Hearts Women v St Johnstone Women

An 87th minute header from substitute Fiona Mearns helped St. Johnstone earn a point as a frantic last fifteen minutes rounded off what had been up until that point a fairly tame SWPL2 encounter at Oriam in Edinburgh.

Both sides came into the game on the back of defeats in a division that is fast shaping up to be one where points can be taken off anyone and at any time. Hearts went into the weekend top of the table despite having suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Dundee United last time out whilst the Perth side were still searching for their first victory of the season following a 2-0 defeat at home to FC Kilmarnock.

It was St. Johnstone who had the first attempts on goal as two long range efforts from midifielder Jade McDonald failed to trouble Emily Mutch in the Hearts goal but gave an early indication that chances would be a at a premium throughout the early stages of this match. St. Johnstone continued to shoot form range without much effect as the half continued whilst Hearts’ main threat came from a series of through balls that lively striker Lauren Evans couldn’t quite get on the end of although a Hearts effort on the half hour did call Saints keeper Rebecca Cameron into action. The best passage of play in the first period came from the visitors. Some intricate play around the edge of the box between Hannah Clark, Ellie-May Cowie and Nicole Carter ended with Clark diverting a shot towards goal that Mutch did well to get down to her left and keep hold of. It was a much needed piece of action to help rouse a healthy crowd in attendance at Oriam but despite the home sides earlier possession advantage it was St. Johnstone who ended the half stronger and a neat corner kick routine saw Rachel Todd turn the ball just wide of Mutch’s near post.

Perhaps aware that the pace needed quickened both sides came out the blocks at the start of the second half. Hearts’ almost immediately took the advantage as a through ball from midfielder Jenny Smith was latched onto by Aisha Maughan however the attacker’s effort was well smothered by Cameron. Hearts continued to be in the ascendency and had their best chance of the game when Ashley Carse played in Evans who after rounding the keeper was denied by Rhiannon Tweedie’s block on the St. Johnstone line.

It looked as if the game was heading for a stalemate but Evans was not to be denied and on the 82nd minute she put the home side ahead. A lobbed ball through from midfielder Rachel Walkingshaw put the striker into the danger area but she still had plenty to do outmuscling and then skipping past both a Saints defender and the goalkeeper before tucking the ball in at the near post with the defence scrambling. It seemed a just reward for Hearts’ more adventurous second half display but just five minutes later Mearns rose highest to get on the end of a right wing corner to scramble home a equaliser and with time ticking down it looked like it might be the visitors who would sneak an unlikely victory. It wasn’t to be though and a point was enough to keep the Jambos top of the SWPL2 pile come the end of the day.

Hearts Goalkeeper Emily Mutch gave her thoughts on the game and her aims for the rest of the season: “I think in the first half we didn’t play well enough but in the second we dominated and we just needed to take our chances. I think we can build on it even though it’s disappointing to only come away with a draw but we can use that to motivate us in our next game.”

“For Hearts we want to finish top of the league and get promoted. Personally I’m working hard as I’d love to be involved with the squad for the upcoming Women’s U19 European Championships that are being held in Scotland.”

Hearts: Mutch, Delworth, Hunter, Walkingshaw, Kids, Carse, Smith, Pagliarulo, Kaney, Evans, Maughan

St Johnstone: Cameron, Milligan, Tweedie, Clark, McDonald, Carter, Shepherd, Todd, Foote, McGowan Cowie

SWPL1 Results

Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

Forfar Farmington 0-7 Glasgow City

Hibernian 4-0 Rangers

Stirling University 0-3 Spartans

SWPL2 Results

FC Kilmarnock 2-0 Glasgow Girls

Hamilton Academical 12-0 Hutchison Vale

Hearts 1-1 St. Johnstone

Partick Thistle 2-1 Dundee United

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SWPL: Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

 

 

It was a case of Women of Steel by name, Women of Steel by nature as Celtic were unable to break down a well organised and resolute Motherwell at K Park. The home side went into the game looking to build on last week’s 5-1 victory away to Spartans whilst the visitors were hoping to break a two game losing streak after an impressive first half showing against Hibernian ultimately ended in a 4-0 defeat last week.

The opening exchanges saw Celtic have the majority of the possession but early efforts from Kathleen McGovern and Cheryl McCulloch were blocked by Motherwell’s centre back pairing of Kirsten Rolph and Georgie Rafferty, a feat that was to be repeated throughout the game as Motherwell bodies block shots from all angles throughout the game. Although at times the act of clearing the ball from the box seemed a little chaotic, especially from Keeva Keenan’s first half bouncing long throws, the visitors were still dangerous on the counter and if it wasn’t for a heavy touch when through on goal from Lori Gardner they might have snatched the lead on the 21st minute. It would be Celtic though who would continue to dominate the play and the first clear chance of the game fell to McCulloch on the 26th minute after McGovern knocked a cross from the right into her path, again though the striker was foiled by another diving Motherwell body, this time in the form of a well timed last ditch tackle. Soon after McGovern was again denied by a block from the visiting defence. With half time approaching McCulloch was put through for another opportunity but this time she was thwarted by an on rushing Morgan Hunter in the ‘Well goal who managed to make herself big enough to see the shot pushed by the post.

As the second half started it appeared that a stalemate was inevitable with little action of note until the introduction of Josephine Giard to Celtic’s left-hand side on the 67th minute. She was soon causing problems and six minutes later she won the ball in midfield and proceeded to push forward only for Rolph to again block the ball’s path towards goal. Celtic’s best chance of the game though came with eleven minutes to go, a long range effort from Rachel Donaldson was parried back out into the area by Hunter but as the ball fell to Natalie Ross she could only skew her effort wide. This latest missed opportunity seemed to spur the visitors on with the midfield trio of Rice, Montgomery and McEachran constantly offering options on the counter. On the 86th minute a smart set piece move saw a long range effort from Rafferty deflected over the bar but the home side still had one chance to spurn when substitute Kat Smart’s low cross was pushed wide by McGovern.

In the 90th minute Motherwell could have won it, a speculative looping shot from Gardner went over the head of Celtic keeper Megan Cunningham but it bounced just wide of the far post. Whilst Celtic will feel they created enough chances to win the game the resoluteness of their Lanarkshire visitors, epitomised by the hard work of centre backs Rolph and Rafferty, meant they were more than deserving of a point in this Friday evening encounter.

Celtic 0-0 Motherwell

Celtic: Cunningham, Keenan, Crosbie, McCulloch, Black, Craig, McGovern, Clark, McLaughlin, Ross, Donaldson Subs Used: Giard, Hay, Smart

Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Rolph, Rafferty, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner McEachran, Russell, Adams Subs Used: Fyfe

Remaining Fixtures This Weekend

SWPL 1

Stirling University v Spartans KO|12:00 Ochilview Park

Forfar Farmington v Glasgow City KO|13:00 Station Park

Hibernian v Rangers KO|13:00 Ainslie Park

SWPL 2

Partick Thistle v Dundee United KO|12:00 Petershill Park

Hearts v St Johnstone KO|15:30 Oriam National Performance Centre

Hamilton Academical v Hutchison Vale KO|16:00 The Hope CBD Stadium

Kilmarnock v Glasgow Girls KO|16:30 Rugby Park