Photo by Colin Poultney.
Hamilton Academical secured promotion to the top-flight of Scottish women’s football for the first time since 2018, after a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock at the Fountain of Youth Stadium confirmed they would finish second in Scottish Building Society SWPL 2.
Josephine Giard scored either side of half time before Georgie McTear added a third midway through the second half to see Gary Doctor’s side join champions Aberdeen in an expanded SWPL 1 next season.
They made the perfect start, taking the lead inside four minutes through Giard who was able to fire under Lauren McGregor after Rachel Ross’ shot deflected into her path, despite Alex Middleton’s desperate lunge to stop the ball.
Giard tried her luck again minutes later, but her shot from distance went past the Killie keeper’s right-hand post.
Accies were certainly the team on top but Killie came close to equalising midway through the half when Shelley Campbell’s free-kick wasn’t properly cleared, allowing Lisa Swanson to volley goalwards but her effort was blocked by Megan Quinn before Sarah Rhind pushed away Abby Robinson’s follow up effort.
The referee let a strong challenge by Middleton that left Megan Quinn in a heap go without a foul despite vocal Accies protests and that seemed to fire up the hosts with Amy Anderson going close after forcing her way through the Killie defence before showing great skill to work space for the shot, which she fired over.
Kilmarnock began the second half the better side, putting a lot of pressure on the home defence but were almost caught out from their own corner kick. Anderson cleared at the front post with Giard latching onto the loose ball before running the length of the pitch and forcing a good save from McGregor.
On the hour mark though, Hamilton did get that all-important goal. Sarah Rhind came out to stop a Killie attack, launching the ball in behind for Giard to run onto and send beyond McGregor for her second of the afternoon.
Megan Quigley tried her luck moments later as Accies tried to put the game beyond any doubt, but her effort from distance flew over the bar.
The third goal wasn’t long in coming though and it was centre half McTear who got it, thumping the ball into the top corner having initially flicked it against the post from the corner delivery.
With promotion all but secured at this point, Accies were simply going through the motions in the closing stages with the substitutes all lined up at the side of the pitch waiting on full time, which was confirmed by the referee’s whistle, prompting wild scenes as Hamilton finally return to SWPL 1.
Hamilton: Rhind (Grant, 86); Molley (McCormick, 86), Coakley, McTear, Quinn; Anderson, Ross (Sturrock, 86); Quigley, Giard (Cullie, 86), Scott (Evans, 75); McGovern
Kilmarnock: McGregor; Middleton, Neil, Gray; Docherty, Campbell (McCulloch, 79), Robinson, Harty (Munro, 69), O’Brien; Swanson, Reside (Galt, 59)