Hearts returned to the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 table after a hard fought victory over Glasgow Girls at a busy Oriam. The Edinburgh side knew victory in their final game before the mid-season break would see them overhaul Hamilton Academical in the promotion race whilst a victory for the visitors, who had lost their last two games, would seem them move within a point of the current leaders.
With so much at stake it would be the home side who would strike the first early blow. An error in the Glasgow Girl’s defence was capitalised on by striker Ashley Carse who, when clean through on goal, showed the required composure to put the ball past Louise Donohoe to score her sixth league goal of the season and put the home side one up with seven minutes on the clock. That moment though would prove to be as good as it would get for the Jambos in the first period as John Doyle’s visitors would create the best of the chances as the search for an equaliser begun.
On the 16th minute striker Lucy McEwan found herself clean through on the right hand side of the Hearts area but her angled half volley would sail just over. Twenty minutes later a deep corner from left back Danielle Gallagher managed to make it all the way to the back post but bounced just out of reach of Lauren Coleman with the goal gaping before another long ball had McEwan through a minute later but on this occasion it would be Emily Mutch in the Hearts goal that would foil the striker.
The Budhill Park side probably felt they shaded the first half and would have been disappointed to go into the break a goal down but just two minutes after the interval the sides were level. Midfielder Sinead McLeod found herself free on the Glasgow side’s right hand side and after cutting inside saw her ball towards the area cause some confusion in the opponents six yard box. With Mutch unable to gain control it was left to McEwan to poke in what was at the time a deserved equaliser.
That goal though, as opposed to deflating the hosts, seemed to spur them on and it would be they would have the best of the play as the half continued. Aisha Maughan would have the first opportunity to put the Oriam side ahead but her tame effort after a Rachel Walkingshaw through ball was easily saved by Donohoe in the Girls goal.
Substitute Walkingshaw was beginning to have an effect on the proceedings, as both sides re-jigged their shape in search of a second, and the midfielder nearly had Hearts back in the lead after a Maughan cross ball eventually made it’s way to her feet ten yards out but her strike clipped the outside of the Glasgow Girls post. Whist she wasn’t able to get on the scoresheet Walkingshaw would soon turn provider as her deep free kick found Dani Pagliarulo in space. The Jambos captain would then take her time before coolly putting a low strike past Donohoe to put Hearts back in front on the 64th minute.
Both sides would then exchange long range efforts as first Sinead McLeod would fire just over for the Girls before Walkingshaw would again be denied by the woodwork as her 30 yard effort clanged off the bar.
With time running out the visitors started to press harder for the equaliser and their best chance would come on the 88th minute when substitute Chloe Docherty would swivel near the penalty spot but her effort would be deflected just wide.
That miss would be the Glasgow side’s last breath as in injury time Hearts substitute Lauren Hall was put through one on one with Donohoe and the young forward calmly round the keeper before rolling the ball into an empty net to seal a 3-1 victory that looks more emphatic than events on the park would suggest.
Both sides now head into the mid-season break knowing that the race for promotion is far from over but it will be Andy Enwood’s squad who go into the summer with a two point advantage over the chasing pack.
Glasgow Girls Assistant Coach, Jamie Hamilton: “I thought it was a close game, I thought Hearts controlled the ball well and had a bit more possession than us but we were in the game. I though we competed well, we reacted well to going a goal behind and did well to get ourselves back in the game.”
“I think we’ve had a positive first part of the season, it’s disappointing to obviously have had three defeats going into the break but we don’t feel negative and we’re quite proud with what we have done in this first part of the season. It’s a new group that are still coming together and I think we can achieve a lot.”
Lauren Evans, Hearts striker: “We knew it was going to be a tough game and knew it would be a bit of a battle and I think knowing that we were going into a very long break to go top of the table it would be fantastic.”
“I think by the end of the game we probably just deserved the victory, when Glasgow scored the goal that was a bit of a blow for us and it was a great time to score for them. We stuck at it though and I think we controlled the game when we went 2-1 up.”
“I’m happy with my season so far, I’ve got a couple of goals and looking forward to a break now and then kick on for the second half.”
Andy Enwood, Hearts Head Coach: “Delighted to get three points, I thought it was quite a lethargic game from both teams not in the sense that either team didn’t want to win the game but the urgency didn’t seem to be there to go at the game, maybe as a result of the upcoming break, but I’ll re-iterate it wasn’t that either side weren’t trying to win.”
“I think the game in both halves was pretty even overall, we capitalised on an error for the first goal thanks to working hard but the game was pretty even and in the middle of the park quite a lot, but we changed it up at half time to try and get the ball in behind a bit quicker. We’ve got over the line with a couple of flashes, crosses and through balls.”
“We’d rather be where we are than anyone else but it’s only two points, and that doesn’t even cover a poor result, and the league is so competitive. The long break could change that but I’m sure every team will look at improving fitness, tactics and reviewing recruitment, it could almost be like a brand new season when we come back.”
Hearts: Mutch, Delworth, Horn, Hunter, Kidd, Carse, Smith, Begg, Pagliarulo, Evans, Maughan. Subs: Ramage, Walkingshaw, Hall
Glasgow Girls: Donohoe, McTear, Gallagher, McGuire, Coleman, McLeod, Portious, Ferrol, MacDonald, Smith, McEwan. Subs: Docherty, Shaw, Armitt, Saunders