Women's Football: Spartans 3-4 Hamilton

Written by Vincent Bryson.

Accies travelled through to Edinburgh for a pre-season game with a bit of a difference as both teams had agreet o play 120 minutes instead of the standard 90 and Accies came out on top in a thrilling preseason game with goals from Ainsley Douglas, Carolina Richardson, Deborah McLeod and Michelle Russell.

The match began with both teams looking to attack, Accies in a more structured methodical fashion but Spartans had such high intensity and speed from the excellent Diana Barry that they looked to release her over the top of Accies back line.  Kirstin McGuire made Accies first foray into the opposing half and looked to link with Helen “Dibs” Templeton on the right, with Dibs movement allowing the outstanding Karen McInally and Cheryl McCulloch a bit of room to receive the ball at feet in the inside right channels.
 
Cheryl McCulloch in action. Photo by Ian Steele

Some excellent tackling from the Spartans defenders saw them quickly counter utilising Barry’s pace but Megan Cunningham stood tall to prevent a couple of opportunities going into the net.

As the first period went on, Spartans intercepted a slack pass into the centre from Accies right side and bore down on goal with Laura Murray putting in a last ditch challenge which the referee immediately judged as a penalty which Barry slotted home.

Into the second period and Accies went 2-0 down from a set piece which was crafted well by Rebecca Zoltie who flicked on for Clare Crosbie to head home despite so much positive work on the attacking side from Accies during this period.

This served as a real galvanising force for Accies and driven on by Captain Toni Mason and the imperious McInally/McCulloch pairing they were soon back in the game.  McInally was fouled 23 yards out and Ainsley Douglas stepped up to curl a beautiful free kick into the bottom corner and make it 2-1.

The game went end to end from then on with both sides displaying a great desire to attack and making the game a real spectacle for the watching crowds at the fabulous Ainslie Park.  

Accies U19 young Gun Carolina Richardson was next on the scoresheet after the wily Ashley McDonald who didn’t put a foot wrong during the entire game was fouled in the box and a penalty awarded.  Richardson stepped up and stroked it home to make it 2-2.

Both teams were clearly keen for the win and the match developed into a cup tie atmosphere with words from the referee from players of both sides but Spartans again took the lead from the powerful Crosbie as she headed home direct from a corner making it 3-2.

As the game moved deep into the third period Clare Gemmell began to exert a real dominance on the game with Toni Mason in the midfield area and it was their young apprentice Deborah McLeod who  stepped up at another corner and flicked the ball home to make it 3-3.

As we moved into the final 20 minutes Richardson began to really dominate the right side with young Kimberley Black with both Accies youngsters up against Scotland representatives Alana Marshall and Kirsty McLaughlin however the youngsters did not look out of place and showed their class throughout.  With talisman Terri Donnelly off the pitch, Laura Murray stood tall with young Susan Lang in the centre and protected Elaine Fleming well, but there were still goals left in this game.

Accies trialist Michelle Russell proved to be the matchwinner as she slotted home after great work again from Richardson on the right but more chances would fall to both sides with impressive interventions from Fleming in Accies goal and Harrison for Spartans.

Last chance of the game fell to Dibs Templeton after yet more impressive high intensity stuff from Richardson who raced past the fullback and delivered with pace but Dibs just couldn’t finish.  

A great exercise for the players and staff, with stand-in coach Scott Murray very pleased.

“I was delighted with the effort and work rate all 19 players put in.  It was a great day and a great facility that lended itself to a great game and whilst the emphasis is never on results from the coaching perspective performance and result matter to the players and they decided they wanted to perform and win and I think all 19 made really key contributions but credit goes to out youngsters Deborah, Susan and Kim who are making the leap from youth to senior football look easy due to their hard work.  It’s a great group to be around and I am thoroughly looking forward to the season ahead”

Accies

Cunningham, Fleming, Quinn, McGuire, Donnelly, Murray, Douglas, Mason, McInally, McCulloch, McLeod, Richardson, McDonald, Templeton, Lang, Black, Gemmell, Russell, Houston
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