A second-half goal from Niamh Johnston saw Motherwell beat Hearts 2-1 as the SWPL 2 returned after the mid-season break. Third-paced Hearts entertained the second-placed Motherwell, with both teams needing to win if they were to keep a title challenge alive.
Motherwell had the better start to the game but it was the home side who took the lead through Kara Kidd before Sophie Gallacher equalised. And then four minutes into the second half, Johnston secured the three point for Motherwell.
Of course, football in August in Scotland is something that always sounds so good on paper – but as it is only to be expected, heavy rain was falling at King’s Park before kick-off, making the grass pitch slippy. But with kick-off approaching, the rain had stopped, and the stage was set for two of the best SWPL 2 sides to play.
Motherwell had the better of the opening exchanges with their passing and composure on show, although they were struggling to threaten Hearts’ keeper Ashley Watson.
Hearts were starting to show a threat going forward, with full-back Lyndsey Anderson impressing, their final ball was often lacking. Kara Kidd’s cross nearly picked out Stacey Hutchison, but the ball was too high to get here head to it.
And then, in the 13th minute, they got that final pass perfect. Stacey Hutchison played in Kara Kidd and she slid past the keeper with a calm finish.
The goal seemed to instil the confidence in the Hearts side, and Kidd came close to scoring their second goal, but her shot just went over the crossbar. A quick move linking Hutchison and Ashley Carse came close, but Carse’s shot was well saved by the Motherwell keeper Laura McGregor.
However, on the 20th minute, Motherwell equalised when a through-ball played Sophie Gallacher into the box, and she picked out the bottom-left corner.
Hearts tried to immediately retake the lead and came as Carse’s shot left the crossbar shaking.
But it was an even encounter, and Motherwell could have themselves taken the lead when Stacey Cook turned in the Hearts box, but her shot was too close to Watson who made the save.
Motherwell failed to fully clear a Hearts’ attack, and Jen Dodds’ long-range strike was juggled by McGregor, but no home player had made the gamble to capitalise.
As half-time approached, the number of chances reduced, but the visitors came close from a header and a long-range effort, the score remained 1-1 at half-time.
Like the first half, it was the visitors that started the half the better. Motherwell broke into the Hearts’ box, and Stacey Cook had a great chance to score, only for Lyndsey Anderson to make the crucial clearance.
And then in the 49th minute, Motherwell took the lead. Watson spilt a long-range effort, and it was Niamh Johnston who reacted the quickest to fire the ball into the net.
Hearts were having more of the possession, but struggling to open up the visitors and Motherwell could have further extended their lead but Pamela Liddell’s long range shot was directed straight at Watson. About ten minutes later, she had a similar chance from outside of the box, which once again was saved.
Hearts were still looking for the equaliser and if Brogan Anderson had managed to get enough power on her header she could have beaten the keeper in the 80th minute. Carse showed great skill to beat three defenders and break into the box to win a corner – but the keeper was able to claim the ball.
Motherwell secured the win to move five points clear of Hearts, and remain six points behind Forfar.