Photo by Malcolm Mackenzie.
Hamilton Academical climbed into the top two in Scottish Building Society SWPL2 after a crushing 5-1 win over promotion rivals Dundee United at Duncansfield on Wednesday night.
Josephine Giard scored in both halves to add to an Amy Anderson penalty, Rachel Ross’s strike, and Rebecca McMillan’s own goal as Accies cruised to victory. Only Neve Guthrie’s reply denied them a perfect night of adding a clean sheet.
It was United though who started the brighter of the two sides, with Jade McLaren heavily involved in the first ten minutes. She saw an early shot saved by Sarah Rhind in the home goal before seeing her goalbound header blocked by the arm of Georgie McTear but the referee waved away United’s claims for a penalty.
Accies fired back though with Anderson and Giard both going close at the other end. A clever one-two resulted in the captain finding herself through on goal but her shot was blocked by the foot of Aaliyah-Jay Meach, while Giard shot past seconds later.
United worked a great chance of their own on 18 minutes when McLaren burst forward to set up Steffi Simson who fired over the bar and they would instantly regret that miss as the hosts went up the park and took the lead. Rachael O’Neill sent an inviting cross into the box which McMillan got on the end of, glancing the ball into her own net.
That goal gave Hamilton a boost and they began to really take the game to the visitors. Kathleen McGovern showed good feet to work a shot that Meach saved well before O’Neill smashed a speculative shot off the bar.
Just before the half-hour mark though, they would make it two, albeit with a huge streak of luck. McGovern took aim from an angle with her shot clearly heading past the post but Meach tried to catch the ball, instead throwing it back inside the post where Giard was first to react to slam the ball into the empty net.
It should have been three when the same two linked up to send Giard in on goal, but she sent the ball past the post despite it looking easier to score.
Philippa McCallum managed to get United up the pitch a few minutes before half time with a good ball down the line for McLaren who cut back to find the left-back again, with her shot dropping the wrong side of the post.
Going in two goals behind at half time would have been bad enough for the Terrors. Things would get a whole lot worse in stoppage time though when MT Gardiner was scythed down in the box by Rebecca Foote, allowing Anderson to step up to score from the spot.
In United’s defence, they started the second half well, chasing the goals they needed to get back into the game. Robyn Smith went closest, forcing Rhind into a save but once again a United chance was soon followed by a Hamilton goal.
Player of the match, Hannah Scott, received the ball in midfield before playing a beautiful ball in behind for Giard who made up for her earlier miss by slotting the ball past the United keeper to make it four.
United pulled one back two minutes later when McLaren robbed Hannah Coakley of possession and sent Guthrie through to control and roll the ball beyond Rhind. They nearly had another soon after when McTear failed to clear in the area but Smith couldn’t get to the loose ball to tap it home.
Giard almost secured her hat-trick with 25 minutes remaining but she was denied by a fantastic stop from Meach, who stretched to get her fingertip onto the striker’s curling effort and divert it onto the post.
Hamilton added a fifth in the last ten minutes when McTear’s handball was ignored on the edge of her own box and Accies worked the ball to the other end where United couldn’t get rid of it and Ross was on hand to shoot beyond the diving Meach.
United nearly made it 5-2 with the last kick of the ball when Stina Kleppe’s shot clipped the top of the bar. That simply summed up what was a frustrating night for a United squad hit by injury and isolation as Hamilton moved into pole position to climb back to the top flight.
Hamilton: Rhind; Molley, Coakley, McTear, Quinn; Scott, O’Neill (Sturrock, 84), Anderson; Giard (Cullie, 84), McGovern (Evans, 77), Gardiner (Kane, 46) (Ross, 71)
Dundee United: Meach; Foote, McMillan, Kern, McCallum; Napier (Airlie, 86), Kleppe, McLaren; Smith, Simson (Robb, 73), Guthrie (Robson, 80)
Hamilton Academical Head Coach, Gary Doctor:
Dundee United Head Coach, Gavin Beith:
Hamilton Academical Forward, Josephine Giard:
Dundee United Midfielder, Jade McLaren: