Hamilton Academical opened up a three point gap at the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 table as a Dionne Brown double cancelled out Ellie May Cowie’s early strike on the visitors way to a 2-1 victory amid challenging conditions at McDiarmid Park.
Accies came into the game knowing that, with Hearts idle as a result of their fixture against Glasgow Girls being re-arranged, they had an opportunity to seize the initiative in the title race but it would be the Perth side that would take the lead after just 25 seconds.
With fans still settling, a ball over the top played in striker Cowie who showed the composure required to drive towards goal before putting her shot past Lauren Grant in the Hamilton goal. It was a fast start for the hosts but it soon become apparent that it would be a case of how long they could hold out for as Hamilton would have the majority of the play as the half progressed.
Nicola Sturrock would be first to test Saints keeper Rebecca Cameron with two long range efforts that the keeper coped with easily before a Dani Connolly header from a Sturrock corner sailed over the bar.
Dionne Brown was proving to be the main focal point for the Lanarkshire side’s attack and after one-on-one efforts in the 16th and 21st minute were both denied by Cameron she finally levelled the scores with 33 minutes on the clock. Another Sturrock corner made its way into the area where it would be Brown jumping highest to send the ball into the corner giving the Saints goalkeeper no chance in the process.
Eleven minutes later the turnaround was complete as Brown turned poacher, capitalising on confusion in the St. Johnstone defence to poke the ball home and see the league leaders go 2-1 up heading into the interval.
The second half was sparse in terms of incident as the wind and rain picked up considerably with Accies unable to obtain the dominance a lead often provides whilst Saints continued searching for a way back into the game. It was something they nearly got on the 53rd minute when Rachel Todd broke free on the left hand side however her effort was well saved by Grant.
The last clear chance of the game feel to Hamilton’s MT Gardiner with twenty five minutes to go but the striker was denied by Cameron as a scrappy second half eventually came to an end without further incident.
For Hamilton it was job done as the SWPL 2 title race continues at pace whilst for Jason McCrindle’s Saints, it was another case of so near but yet so far as they remain 7th in the table.
St. Johnstone: Cameron, Foote, Milligan, Irvine, Fleming, McDonald, Todd, Carter, Cowie, Newbigging, Fish. Subs: Clark, Henderson, Craig, Penman, Shepherd.
Hamilton Academical: Grant, Brown, Bulloch, Connolly, Fitzsimmons, Fraser, Gardiner, McIntosh, Quigley, Sturrock, Quinn. Subs: Kane, Ross, Muir, McCann, Rhind.
Hamilton Head Coach Gary Doctor: “Probably one of the poorest performances from us this season I suppose and the players know that. We lost the early goal but after that we dominated without playing great but we turned it around which was pleasing.”
“There was a wee bit of wind coming across the pitch but we didn’t really get hold of the game and maybe there was a bit of anxiety in our play but we improved our result against St. Johnstone from earlier in the season which is something we can take away from the game.”
“Every game is so close and tight and I think results like today will make the difference. Every game is going to be tough until the end of the season.”
On the Scottish Cup game against Clyde next week: “It’s frustrating when teams drop out the tournament and I feel for the sides who did manage to get a team out and the results they suffered but for us the girls just want to play. We don’t know too much about Clyde but we’ll give them the appropriate respect. A cup run would be nice and the draw has opened up for an SWPL 2 side to take advantage of that.”
St. Johnstone Head Coach Jason McCrindle: “We got off to a great start and then from there I thought we were going to kick on but as I said to the players at half time we did the complete opposite and it kind of sums up our season.”
“We told them to be stronger, more competitive and to communicate better and to be fair we saw a massive reaction in the second half.”
On the Scottish Cup game against Celtic: “It’s a challenge for the the girls who want to make that step up and it’s a challenge for me too but I want to compete with the best and we go through there with nothing to fear but we’ll need to play better than we did today.”