Photo via St Johnstone WFC.
St Johnstone suffered a scare from a valiant Stirling University before pulling away to win 5-2 at McDiarmid Park on Sunday.
Goals from Rachel Todd and Ellie Cowie put Jason McCrindle’s side ahead at half time, but Shana Macphail and Ellie Simpson brought the visitors level. However, late goals from Morgan Steedman, Nicole Carter and Rebecca McGowan finished Saints’ season on a high.
The win cements a top-half finish for the Perth side in Scottish Building Society SWPL 2, while Stirling finished bottom.
The home side nearly took the lead in the opening seconds as Cowie was played through on goal but she could only drag her shot wide of the right-hand post. The striker then found Steedman with a cross into the Stirling area, but the resultant shot was saved comfortably.
Ellie Mitchell in the Stirling goal also made a more impressive stop moments later, as she raced off her line and blocked McGowan’s effort when the midfielder was played clean through.
The deadlock was broken soon after, though, when the impressive Steedman held the ball up before finding Todd just outside the area. The winger confidently slotted home first time to give the hosts a deserved lead.
That lead was then doubled on the half-hour mark when a hopeful ball into the Stirling area was chased by Cowie. She beat the Stirling goalkeeper to the ball to slide home and extend St Johnstone’s advantage.
However, a lapse in concentration from the St Johnstone defence moments into the second period was emphatically punished, as the hosts lost possession and Stirling striker Macphail let fly from long range. The movement on her venomous strike deceived Cameron and brought her side back into the game.
Macphail caused trouble throughout for the St Johnstone centre backs and came close once again with another effort from distance. The visitors then capped a tremendous start to the second half when Simpson marked her final appearance by twisting and turning past the final defender and lashing a low strike across the goalkeeper to bring her side level.
St Johnstone were suddenly wavering, and it took a superb covering tackle from Nicola Jamieson to prevent Simpson from running through on goal, while Macphail had another try from distance which drifted off target.
The game remained in the balance heading into the final twenty minutes before Cowie worked some space down St Johnstone’s right-hand side and crossed to Todd. She laid the ball off for Steedman to slide home and restore her side’s lead.
The goal proved a bitter blow to the visitors, and it was quickly followed by another as Todd produced a great piece of skill to reach the by-line before her sublime cross was tapped home gratefully by substitute Carter. In the dying moments, a Todd free-kick wasn’t dealt with by Mitchell and the loose ball was headed home by McGowan to add some gloss to the score.