Share of the spoils on opening day for Dons & Killie
Report by Mark Gordon
Aberdeen battled back from a goal down to earn a point in their opening SWPL2 fixture against Kilmarnock at Cormack Park this afternoon. Eilidh Shore’s close-range header equalised for the Dons with just two minutes remaining after Chloe Ponton looked to have given the visitors all three points late on.
Emma Hunter made three changes from side that beat Hearts last week with Jenna Penman and Jess Broadrick replacing Amy Strath and Zoe Johnstone in defence. Goalkeeper Gail Gilmour was away on international duty with the Scotland under-16s so Anna Blanchard took her place between the sticks.
The bright, sunny conditions at kick-off were ruined by an extremely strong wind which continued throughout the game and had a huge impact on both team’s ability to play any kind of passing game.
Both teams managed to exchange half-chances early in the encounter and it was the home side who threatened first. Natasha Bruce pounced on a loose ball before finding Lauren Gordon at the edge of the box but a deflection took the power out of her shot which went straight to Killie goalkeeper Lauren McGregor.
The visitors then had their first attack of the match as Hang Chun Ching found Abby Robinson who couldn’t get enough power in her shot to test Blanchard. Chloe Gover then sent a long-range effort high and wide after being tee’d up by Shore.
The Dons had the best chance of the half after 23-minutes as they were denied by some fine goalkeeping by McGregor. Eva Thomson played a great ball through the Killie defence to find Francesca Ogilvie who cut inside to shoot but was blocked by McGregor, who had came rushing off her line to make the save.
The home-side were dealt a blow after half-an-hour as striker Gordon was forced off with an injury which she had picked up in a strong challenge a few minutes earlier. She was replaced by Johan Fraser and the ensuing re-shuffle saw Thomson move into the role of striker with Gover taking on a more central role.
Fraser had a half-chance within minutes of coming on as she did well to get on the end of a Kelly Forrest pass. As McGregor again rushed off her line, Fraser touched the ball passed the keeper but couldn’t collect it again under pressure from Chung Pui Ki.
The visitors had a glimpse at goal five minutes before the break as Lauren Sloan fired wide. Sloan linked up with Dana Baird on the break and collected a neat back-heel from Baird before shooting wide from the left edge of the penalty box.
McGregor again prevented the Dons from going in ahead at the break as she saved well from Ogilvie, who had been played in on the left by Thomson. That was the last action of the half as the sides went in level at the interval.
HT: ABERDEEN 0 KILMARNOCK 0
The Dons had the strong wind at their back as they started the second period and they almost took the lead after 53-minutes. Some good work by Thomson saw her find Fraser on the edge of the Kilmarnock box. Fraser then rode a tackle before laying the ball off for Shore who brought out a great save by McGregor as she dived to tip the powerful effort over the bar.
Scoring chances were at a premium which owed much to the difficult conditions as anything else. A largely scrappy second half saw three Dons players booked as they attempted to gain some kind of foot-hold in the match.
A dangerous Loren Campbell cross was cut out as it headed for Ogilvie in the penalty area as Aberdeen searched for an opener. At the other end, a Danielle Gallagher free-kick into the area was well defended by a Shore header as the visitors looked to threaten.
As the game entered its final stages it looked as though neither team were going to break the deadlock with the match getting more and more scrappy, but a goal finally arrived 6-minutes from time. A corner from the visitors right had ended in a goal-mouth scramble with some of the Killie players claiming the ball had gone over the line.
Whilst the Dons defence scrambled it clear and tried to re-group, Gallagher played the ball in from the right and found PONTON unmarked in the box to fire a first time shot beyond Blanchard for what looked like being the winner.
To the Dons credit, they didn’t let their heads go down at the disappointment of losing a late goal and they were rewarded for that in the 88th-minute.
Chloe Gover was fouled just over 20-yards out from the Kilmarnock goal and was subsequently booked for her reaction to the tackle. Gover dusted herself down and took the kick herself, sending a curling effort over the wall and off the under-side of the crossbar. It looked as though Gover’s effort had bounced down over the line but with the officials unmoved, SHORE was on-hand to nod the ball in and ensure it had gone over the line.
It might have got better for the Dons as they went for a winner in the final few minutes but they were unable to get a second goal and the match ended with a share of the spoils which was a fair result on both teams.
FT: ABERDEEN 1 KILMARNOCK 1