Hearts remain top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 table after a win away at the DISC against Dundee United. Two penalties from Danni Pagliarulo saw the Jambos pick up a crucial three points with a 2-0 win, despite having Murron Cunningham sent off in the second half.
Maddy Brill Edwards shot straight at Aalliyah-Jay Meach in the United goal after just two minutes before Rebecca Mc Millan headed against her own post as the Edinburgh side took the game to the hosts in the early stages.
United reacted well though and almost took the lead themselves when Jade McLaren let fly from distance, her effort being pushed behind by Charlotte Parker-Smith.
The fast pace to the game continued with Louise Mason smacking the crossbar from the edge of the area but just a minute later, the visitors had the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot. McMillan blocked a flick with her hands with the referee pointing to the spot and Hearts captain Pagliarulo stepped up to send Meach the wrong way.
It should have been 1-1 immediately after though when a United corner was met by the head of McLaren, but she could only divert her header wide of target.
After the fast start, the game began to settle to a more pedestrian pace with the one final chance of the half falling the way of hearts when Robyn Smith headed Lauren Evans’ cross over the bar.
Hearts began the second half as strongly as the first and Pagliarulo almost got her second from a corner, her volley cleared off the line by Philippa McCallum.
Just before the hour mark, the capital side were awarded a second penalty when Erin Ross cleaned out Edwards in the area, with Pagliarulo again sending Meach the wrong way.
Jenny Smith fired a shot over from the edge of the area before substitute Aisha Maughan jinked past a few defenders and let fly, though her shot was held by Meach.
Then came the game’s biggest moment of controversy. Danni McGinley went down in the United box with a head injury but the referee played on. After arguments by the official with players and fans, the game was eventually stopped to provide McGinley with treatment. At the restart, a quick chat with his assistant resulted in a red card for Cunningham with no-one really sure why, although it appeared later the card was for abusive language.
Hearts continued in the ascendency despite going down to ten players and Rachel Walkingshaw saw her effort tipped over the bar.
United did create a few chances with the player advantage, McCallum setting up McLaren with a wonderful cross but she couldn’t find the target before she then played a long ball over the top to trialist Isabella Rosalina who rolled the ball wide of target.
Neve Guthrie and McLaren then both had shots blocked by defenders before the referee’s whistle brought the game to a close and kept Hearts top of the table, three points ahead of Hamilton. United remain sixth.
Dundee United: Meach; Reid, McMillan, Burns, McCallum; Johnstone, McLaren; Ross (Robertson, 72), Harkin, Caine (Rosalina, 49); Guthrie
Heart of Midlothian: Parker-Smith; Delworth, Pagliarulo, Cunningham, Williamson; Walkingshaw (Kidd, 87); R.Smith (Kaney, 67), J.Smith, Edwards, Mason (Maughan, 67); Evans (McGinley, 58)
Dundee United Head Coach, Gavin Beith
Heart of Midlothian Head Coach, Andy Enwood