A 75th minute goal from substitute Dionne Brown was enough to send Hamilton Academical to the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL2 table after a closely fought Easter Sunday encounter at a baking Rugby Park. The conditions were such that the referee called for water breaks in each half and it would be these conditions coupled with a Killie schedule that saw them playing three games in a week that would prove to be key as the match went on.
The first half was not one for the purists and whilst it was competitive neither side could quite seize the initiative and chances were at a premium. An early long-range free kick from Accies midfielder Chloe Muir which did enough to sting the palms of Lauren McGregor in the Kilmarnock goal was the only action of note in the opening half hour. As the half progressed home side winger Kirsty Munro was starting to have some joy. First her ball across the six yard box on the 37th minute was primed for a forward’s foot to get on to but unfortunately for the home side none were forthcoming. Munro continued to probe though and some nice interplay with captain Lisa Swanson presented Monica Harty with a chance but that was unable to convert. Hamilton had chances of their own though. A powerful run and drive from Jade Lindsay after she dispossessed Swanson in midfield produced a smart save from Lauren McGregor whilst on the stroke of half time neat work again from Lindsay saw a Kirstie McIntosh effort stopped once more by the keeper.
The second half continued to prove that this game was to maintain its status as an even contest and it would be Kilmarnock that would have the first chance of the half after good work from Swanson put team-mate Clare Docherty through but Hamilton keeper Lauren Grant was there to snuff out the danger. As the half wore on though the visitors, with their ability to freshen things up, started to take more control of the game. After a McIntosh effort slid just by the Kilmarnock post having been played through by substitute Amy Bulloch their pressure paid off a few minutes later. Good work from McIntosh on the Hamilton right saw her cross make its way to the back post and, after missing everyone in the area, it fell to MT Gardiner on the opposite side who jinked past one defender before putting the ball across to Dionne Brown who slid home what would turn out to be the winner.
Knowing that victory could send them to the top of the table the visitors pressed for a second but were unable to capitalise on their advantage and it was the home side who nearly snatched a point in injury time with Amy Burrows free kick from the edge of the area just going wide.
Whilst the Lanarkshire side took home the three points this was another encounter that went to show that anything is possible in the tightly contested SWPL2 this season.
Hamilton Manager Gary Doctor: “We should have managed it better towards the last few minutes of the game but it’s all about wins now. Literally every game has an impact and it was massive just to win. We’re now in a position where it’s in our own hands now.”
Goalscorer Dionne Brown: “I’m just happy to get the three points the girls and coaches put a lot of effort into training so delighted with the result. We’re in this league to win it so coming into this and taking away the three points is a massive thing for us.”
FC Kilmarnock Manager Stewart Hall: “Absolutely gutted, we played very well in the first half but in the second half we started to tire which can happen when you play three games in a week. Some of the girls have played all three 90 minutes (against St. Johnstone and Partick Thistle too) adn we’ve also had jig about our formation.
We’re not playing badly in these games and we’re not going to ask the girls to do anything different other than putting the ball in the back of the net.”
FC Kilmarnock: McGregor, Neil, Murphy, Docherty, Burrows, Robinson, Munro, Docherty, Fleming, Harty, Swanson,
Subs: Little, McCulloch, Otto
Hamilton Academical: Grant, McWhirter, Fraser, Mcintosh, Anderson, Sturrock, Fitzsimmons, Muir, Quigley, Gardner, Lindsay
Subs: Quinn, McCann, Brown, Kane, Bulloch, Ross
Goal: Brown (’75)
An audio version of this report including all interviews can be found here.