A double from Mhairi Lyle inspired Hamilton Academical to a critical 3-1 win over title rivals Hearts. Apart from a wobble at the start of the second half, it was a game that Hamilton controlled and deserved their victory and also had the ball cleared off the line twice.
Hamilton dominate the first half but it looked like they would go unrewarded at the break until Hearts’ left-back Kara Kidd conceded a penalty for a trip on MT McGuiness which Accies’ captain Gillian Inglis converted. And just before half-time Hamilton doubled their advantage when Lyle headed in McGuiness’ cross.
At half-time, Hearts went to a more attacking 4-3-3 formation with the introduction of Michelle Stewart – and it was the substitute who pulled back a goal for the visitors after Elaine Fleming had saved her original shot.
After weathering the storm, Hamilton managed to regain their control on the fixture again and on the hour mark, regained their two-goal advantage when Inglis’ cross was headed in by Lyle for her second.
The win means the top three in the SWPL 2 are all on 45 points, with Hamilton ahead on goal difference.
Quick Start For Hamilton
Going into the game, Hearts had the upper in hand in both position and head-to-head, having beaten Hamilton three times this season.
But Hamilton started the game with an intensity that showed they wanted to end that pattern, and they should have been ahead after just 44 seconds. Lori Gardner broke down the right wing and her cross picked out Amy Anderson at the near post, but she could not make a clean contact with the ball as her effort went wide from just six yards. Minutes later, Hamilton had another great chance with Amie McGill heading over from Gillian Inglis’ corner.
As the game grew, Hamilton was dominating the possession stats, causing problems down the wings – with Hearts struggling with the final ball on their breaks. But it was Hearts who had the game’s first shot on target when Ashley Carse broke down the left and then shot across goal, being denied by Fleming’s diving save that tipped the ball past the post.
Then Hamilton nearly took the lead through Inglis’ corner which looked as if it was going directly in, only to be headed off the line by Louise Moultray.
Hearts were starting to gain more confidence in attack, but they were being frustrated by great defending from Accies. Brogan Anderson played Carse into the Accies’ area only for her to be denied by a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Megan Quinn.
Two Goals In Three Minutes
The game changed in three minutes towards the end of the first half. Hamilton’s opener came when Katherine Jaycock’s stunning through-ball dissected the gap between centre-back and left-back, picking out McGuiness who was tripped by Kara Kidd. Captain Inglis took the penalty and picked out the bottom left corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Hamilton’s second came when McGuiness’ cross picked out Lyle at the far post and her header gave Watson no chance.
After the break, Hearts made a tactical change, bringing on Michelle Stewart and moving to a 4-3-3 formation. And within two minutes, she nearly scored drawing a good save from Fleming from a shot just inside the box.
In the 52nd minute, Stewart pulled a goal back. Ashley Carse’s cross picked out Stewart, and although her first shot was saved, she managed to fire the rebound past the keeper.
Hamilton Regain Composure
Eventually, Hamilton managed to regain their hold on the game and started to create further chances with Amy Anderson having a long range effort saved.
And then, Hamilton restored their two-goal advantage when Inglis’ cross picked out Lyle at the far post and her header gave Watson no chance.
Hearts thought they had immediately pulled a goal back when Stewart’s composed finish slipped under the keeper, but the assistant had raised the flag before the shot.
In the 80th minute, Hamilton had another shot cleared off the line. Inglis’ corner found Joanne Paton and once again, Moultray was there to make the clearance.