A highly controversial refereeing decision saw Hearts move top of the SWPL 2 after beating rivals Hamilton 3-1. Whilst the controversy came when Hearts were in front, it came at the moment in the match where Hamilton looked like equalising.
The first three goals were simple. Hearts took the lead in the first half when Hamilton gifted them possession, and Ashley Carse finished with a delightful chip.
In the second half, they doubled their lead when Carse won a penalty, and Rachel Walkingshaw converted with ease. That seemed to spark the home side to life, and they pulled one goal back through Mhairi Lyle’s header.
And then came the controversy in the 88th minute. A passing move between Brogan Anderson and Carse opened up the Hamilton defence, and the former scored. However, throughout the whole move, the assistant on the far side had his flag raised for offside. The referee ignored this, allowing the goal to stand, causing the Hamilton players to react angrily. The Accies’ captain Gillian Inglis received two quick yellow cards for dissent, forcing the home side to play the remaining minutes with ten players.
The result sees Hearts move top, with Hamilton dropping to second, just one point behind the Edinburgh side.
Hamilton started the stronger of the two sides, winning several set-pieces, but failed to create any chances in the opening ten minutes.
They nearly created a goal-scoring chance when Gillian Inglis dribbled through the Hearts defence and into the penalty area, and she tried to set up MT McGuiness with a simple chance – only to be denied by Kara Kidd’s sliding interception. Hearts broke up the other end, and Ashley Carse forced Accies’ keeper Elaine Fleming into a good save. From the corner, Rebecca Smith saw her shot from the edge of the box saved.
Accies nearly took the lead when McGuiness cut the ball back across the six-box and Hearts’ Louise Moultray nearly diverted the ball into her own net.
But then Hearts took the lead. Hamilton gave away possession in their own half, allowing Carse to be one-on-one with the keeper and she calmly beat the keeper with a deft chip.
Hearts looked the more likely team to score and came close when a free-kick was cleared to Brogan Anderson, but her curled effort was well held by Fleming.
Late on in the first half, Hamilton had a good chance when McGuiness won a free-kick on the right-wing. Megan Quinn had an attempt on goal, but her shot was caught at the near post by Hearts’ keeper Ashley Watson.
The second half began scrappily, with the only chances in the first fifteen minutes coming from long-range Amy McGill free-kicks for Hamilton that failed to find the target.
But slowly, both teams found their feet again with Hearts’ Brogan Anderson shooting just wide and Hamilton’s Amy Anderson forcing Watson into a good save.
And then Hearts won a penalty as Carse broke into the box and was tripped by Quinn. Rachel Walkingshaw placed the ball on the spot and blasted the ball into the left corner.
Hamilton responded by putting Hearts under pressure, without really threatening. In fact, Hearts nearly scored when Walkingshaw’s corner found Carse at the far post, but her shot was brilliantly blocked by Laura Gallen.
But then Hamilton did pull a goal back, and it came when they finally produced a good set piece. Gillian Inglis whipped a corner into the six-yard box, the keeper came and missed giving Mhairi Lyle a simple header to pull a goal back.
They nearly equalised when Inglis’ cross was cleared to Amy McCafferty, but her shot was just deflected wide.
And then came the moment of huge controversy. Hearts countered, and lovely interchange between Anderson and Carse split open the Hamilton defence. But, the Hamilton defence switched off because the assistant had raised his flag for offside, and continued to do so as Ashley Carse found the back of the net.
Hearts celebrated, and Hamilton side couldn’t believe what had happened, and started arguing with the referee. Inglis was booked, but she continued to make her point, and eventually, the referee gave her a second yellow card.
Despite Hamilton having one woman fewer, they dominated the final stages with Lyle coming close to pulling a goal back.
But deep into second-half stoppage time, Hearts should have scored a fourth when Anderson found herself through on goal with the Hamilton keeper out of her area, and despite having two players to pick out, Anderson went for goal and shot wide.
Woman of the Match
Has to be Ashley Carse. Was involved in all three of Hearts’ goals, and was a continuous threat.