Featured Image: Colin Poultney/Collarge Images
Hamilton Academical were crowned the inaugural champions of the SWPL 2 after deservedly beating Buchan 3-1. Going into the match, Hamilton knew that if they avoided defeat, they would realistically be crowned champions of the second flight – and from the whistle, Hamilton started with a style that seemed to suggest it was a matter of when, and not if, Hamilton would score. Buchan, though, showed a threat and Lydia Johnston threatened their goal early on.
But goals from Mhairi Lyle and MT McGuiness gave Hamilton a 2-0 lead at half-time, and from that point, Hamilton played with a swagger. They missed numerous chances in the second half, and that could have come back to haunt them, but Joanne Paton’s late goal secured the win.
A keeping error gifted Buchan a goal which Johnston converted, but by then, it was far too late for Hamilton’s celebrations to be threatened.
Johnston Threatens Early For Buchan
Whilst Hamilton started the game on the front foot, it was Buchan who had the game’s first chance from Lydia Johnston’s long-range effort, but it didn’t trouble Accies’ keeper Elaine Fleming. Soon after, Johnston once again tested Fleming from distance.
However, Hamilton was dominating possession and soon started to threaten, but was lacking that final cutting edge. A stunning through-ball from Gillian Inglis picked out Mhairi Lyle in the box but before she could pull the trigger, Connie Strachan made the crucial block.
Hamilton Take The Lead
Then MT McGuiness showed great skill to twist and turn in the box, but her shot was saved by Buchan’s keeper Jodie Kennedy’s legs. And then, Amy Anderson was picked out in the six-yard box, but her effort was blocked by a Buchan defender.
In the 22nd minute, Hamilton took the lead. Buchan failed to fully clear the ball, and in the scramble that ensued, Lyle managed to chip the ball over Kennedy and the ball rolled into the bottom corner.
Minutes later, Hamilton should have doubled their advantage when Lori Gardner’s cross picked out McGuiness in the box, but the forward couldn’t make a clean contact with her shot.
It was only the woodwork that then stopped Hamilton from doubling their lead when McGuiness’ stunning through-ball sent Gardner through on goal, but her shot smashed off the near post and the ball nearly went in off the keeper.
Late on in the first half, Accies did double their lead. Gardner broke into the box off the right-wing but before she could shoot was tackled. The ball fell to McGuiness whose backheel bought her space before she fired the ball past the keeper.
Hamilton Look For Their Third Goal
Hamilton started the second half strongly and could have been 3-0 up in the 47th minute when McGuiness robbed Connie Strachan of possession, but she was denied by Kennedy’s legs when through on goal.
Buchan though was still getting possession and they reminded the home side of their threat when Louise Brown shot wide from the edge of the box.
However, the home side missed a glorious opportunity when McGuiness picked out Amy Anderson, six yards out from goal, but the Accies’ midfielder seemed to shin her shot wide.
McGuiness herself, once again went close after turning her marker, but she couldn’t find the target with her effort.
As in the first half, Hamilton was sometimes guilty of overcomplicating things when McGuiness broke into the box, but instead of shooting she looked for the pass. Eventually, the ball fell to Gardner who was denied by Kennedy’s reactive save to tip the ball over. From the resulting corner, Joanne Paton could only find the side-netting having been picked out by Inglis.
Megan Quinn then went close for Accies when she broke into the box but she was denied by Kennedy from a narrow-angle.
Paton Gets The Party Started
Paton tested Kennedy twice from distance, but both times, Kennedy was equal to it.
Then Hamilton got the third that their pressure deserved. McGuiness broke down the left and cut the ball back to Paton who blasted the ball into the top corner.
But then Buchan pulled a goal back from an error from Accies’ keeper Elaine Fleming who spilt the ball at the feet of Johnston who took full advantage and fired the ball into the empty net.
It was too late to even threaten Hamilton’s day, and soon the referee blew her whistle and it was time for celebrations for Hamilton!
Interview – Gary Doctor