The SWPL 2 title race is going down to the wire. With one game remaining, two points separate three sides. In this series, we look at each side still in the title race. Here, we examine Hearts.
Going into the season, Hearts was one of the two teams that were talked about as title favourites, so it is hardly a surprise to see them in contention on the final day.
Of course, looking at the league table, it is clear that Hamilton Academical is favourites – having both the points and goal difference advantage. But Hearts go into their final game against Hutchison Vale with the belief they can win the league if they beat Hutchison Vale.
This was something Hearts’ Head Coach Grant Scott agreed with, telling Taran Kicks, “The fact mathematically the league is going down to the last weekend tells you how competitive the league has been this season, especially between the top three teams. Hamilton is very much the favourites now, they probably have been for a few weeks now. But we’ll approach our last match professionally and thoroughly this week, and hopefully give ourselves the chance of winning against Hutchie Vale.”
Their season began with a tricky away trip up to Buchan where they drew 2-2, but soon they found their winning ways. Victories against Inverness City, Jeanfield Swifts and Queen’s Park saw them jump up to second, two points behind the leaders Hamilton Academical.
Hearts travelled to New Douglas Park for a game against Hamilton, and left with all three points after two goals from Ashley Carse helped them win 3-1.
Their stay at the top, though, would be short. Defeat to Glasgow Girls and a draw with Hutchison Vale saw them drop down to third place but the gap would never be greater than one point.
This was due to return to winning ways against Buchan, beating them 4-1 at home, and this was followed with victories against Inverness City, Jeanfield Swifts and Queen’s Park as they go into the break in second place.
The next crucial period in their title challenge would come straight after the break. They hosted Hamilton, and a 90th minute Gemma Mason penalty saw Hearts deservedly win 1-0. Two weeks later, a win over Glasgow Girls saw them return to the top of the table.
Hearts would stay first in the league until October when they were outplayed by Hamilton, losing 3-1. Hosting Glasgow Girls, Hearts were level on points with their title rivals. A draw with Glasgow Girls sees them two points behind Hamilton with an inferior goal difference.
This means Hearts must beat Hutchison Vale, and require Hamilton to most likely lose to Buchan. There is a mathematical possibility that Hearts can win the title if Hamilton draws, but that would require Hearts to beat Hutchison Vale 9-0. That seems highly unlikely, implausible in fact.
On Hearts’ season, Scott said, “It will be disappointing not to win the league but I’ve been extremely proud of this squad at Hearts this year, playing open and exciting football. The players deserve huge credit, regardless of the outcome this weekend. League tables don’t lie and the most consistent team will deserve the plaudits that they’ll receive and will be congratulated by everyone at Hearts Ladies.”
SWPL 2 Table
2016 SWPL 2
|4||Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale||21||9||4||8||52||41||+11||31|