Sunday 19 February 2017, 14.00, Kings Park

The Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup tie between Hearts Ladies and Hamilton Academical Ladies.

The Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) was founded in 2002 and is the highest level of women’s football in Scotland.  In 2009, they adopted a summer season which now runs from March to November each year, with a mid-season break.

A new format was established for the start of last season.  The Premier League now consists of two leagues of eight teams.  They are named SWPL 1 and SWPL 2.  Teams in the top league play each other three times, with the bottom placed team being relegated to the SWPL 2.  The SWPL 2 uses the same format and the two last placed teams are relegated to the SWFL 1.

Hearts and Hamilton Ladies were both victims of the reconstruction, being relegated from the top league when they both would have survived had the new format not been introduced.

The Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup is a cup competition only open to teams in the Scottish Women’s Premier League. There are four rounds, including the final.

The cup competition was launched in 2002 in the same year as the league was formed.

Last season saw Hamilton Accies win the league by two points from Hearts and gain promotion to SWPL1.  Hearts won three of the four games between the sides last season and also won a pre-season friendly between the sides at the beginning of the month in Hamilton by a goal to nil.

Accies have signed goalkeeper Carys Hopkins and defender Kirsty Fraser from Glasgow City.  Hearts have signed midfielder and former Spartans captain Katie Reilly.  Hearts also have a new head coach, with Andy Enwood stepping up to take the role.

Hearts went into the game minus the suspended Rachel Walkingshaw, the unwell Gemma Mason and Michaela McAlonie, who was on International duty.  Jennifer Dodds and Lauren Hall from the under 17 side took places on the bench.

Hearts are once again playing their home games at Dalkeith Thistle’s Kings Park.

Accies were the first to show in 2 minutes when Inglis played the ball to Paton inside the Hearts box, but under pressure from Miller, she shot over the bar.

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A Hamilton cross in 8 minutes was miscued by Moultray and came to the feet of Lyons, but her shot was too high.

It had been a strong start by Accies and they were looking dangerous.

Carse brought the ball forward for Hearts in 15 minutes and her attempted ball wide was deflected through the middle of the Hamilton defence and Kidd used her pace to run onto it, but Hopkins was out quickly to smother.

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A good lay off by Gardner in 17 minutes gave Lyons a sight of the Hearts goal, but her shot from 20 yards cleared the bar.

Hearts won a free kick in 20 minutes around 25 yards from the Accies goal in a central position.  Pagliarulo played it low into the box for Reilly to run onto, but she shot wide of the post.

Paterson caught Lyle late in 24 minutes after the Accies player had won the ball, but the referee was satisfied by just giving her a warning.  The resultant free kick saw Hamilton appeal for a handball in the Hearts box against Miller, but it would have been very harsh.

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Lyle required treatment in 26 minutes, the Accies player possibly still suffering from the earlier challenge and despite trying to run it off, was forced to succumb three minutes later.

In 33 minutes, a cross from Hughes on the touchline on the left, to the front post was fumbled under pressure by Hopkins under pressure from Hutchison, but Allen managed to get the ball away.

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Nice play by Accies in 35 minutes gave Gardner a chance, but the flag was up as Watson made a fine save.

Impressive power by Lyons in 41 minutes as her clearance sailed over the top of the clubhouse and into the trees.

In 43 minutes, Paton struck at the Hearts goal from the corner of the box but sliced her shot.  Allen didn’t give up though and was unfortunate that the ball was just too far in front of her to make a proper connection and she could only put it wide.

Paton was involved again a minute later when she sent McGuiness racing away down the left.  She played the ball across the face of the Hearts goal, but there were no takers in red and white.

Right on half time, a 50/50 challenge between Hearts Pagliarulo and Accies Connolly looked like the latter had been a bit late, but both players were ok.

A first half that had seen Accies on top and they would have been disappointed not to have been in front at the break.  Hearts had dug in though and were not for giving up.

Accies started the second half like they did the first with an early attack causing problems for Hearts.  There were 48 minutes on the clock when Lyons’ floated ball into the box seemed to be perfect for Gardner, but she didn’t make contact with the header.

A minute later they came forward again when Paton won the ball and played it to McGuiness on the left.  As she tried to come in towards the goal, Moultray made a fine tackle to halt her progress.

Carse played a ball through the Accies defence in 51 minutes for Hutchison but Hopkins managed to just get there first to claim the ball.

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A fine pass from Reilly found Carse on the left of the Accies box in 52 minutes, but the defence managed to smuggle the ball behind.

With 56 minutes gone, Hutchison won the ball for Hearts and Kidd laid it off to Anderson who lobbed a ball over the top of the Accies defence for Carse to chase.  Hopkins came out and Allen tried to get back and there was lack of communication as they ran into each other and the ball went towards their goal.

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Carse gleefully ran onto the ball and smashed it into the empty net to put Hearts in front.

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Just 60 seconds later Carse was on the ball again on the left side of the Accies box and she cut inside Allen before going down as Inglis challenged her.  The referee pointed to the spot.  There looked to have been a tangle of legs, and I wasn’t sure from where I was about the award.

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Carse stepped up and thumped home for her and Hearts second.

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Quinn picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon when the Accies left back went into the back of Anderson in 62 minutes.

Hamilton came forward in 65 minutes through Paton and she passed the ball wide to McGuiness.  She returned it to Paton, but it was just a little too far in front of her and she shot wide.

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In 66 minutes, Anderson went down in the Accies box and there were loud appeals for a Hearts penalty.  It looked more like a penalty than the one they did get, but nothing was given.

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A long ball forward for Hearts by Hughes in 68 minutes saw Kidd outpace Allen, but her shot went straight into the arms of Hopkins.

A nice one two between Paton and McGuiness saw the latter cross to the edge of the Hearts box to the feet of Gardner in 70 minutes.  She struck for goal but it took a nick off a defender and went wide for a corner.  The corner came to Allen, but she shot over the bar.

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A good run down the left by McGuiness in 72 minutes caught out the Hearts defence and Gardner was free in the middle, but the cross was overhit and Hearts got the ball away.

Accies had another chance in 73 minutes when a ball into the box saw Gardner and McGuiness with space, but they both hesitated as they left it to each other.  Gardner eventually shot for goal and put it just wide of the far post.

The Hamilton players were unhappy not to get a corner in 76 minutes when the linesman and referee decided it was a Hearts goal kick.  The linesman said “I wondered if it had hit the invisible woman”.

Hall laid the ball back to Reilly on the edge of the Accies box in 78 minutes and she shot just wide of the far post.

McGuiness got down the left again for Accies in 83 minutes and crossed to the front post, but Watson was there to take the ball well.

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Miller showed great running and energy so late in the game to get back and win the ball for Hearts near her own corner flag in 84 minutes and was fouled by Paton for her troubles.

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Good build up play by Hearts ended with Hall’s attempted cross into the Accies box in 86 minutes which took a deflection off Lindsay and fell to the feet of Dodds.  She rifled the ball high into the top corner to put Hearts three up.  A great finish.

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A fine win for Hearts, especially after they really had to dig in in the opening 45 minutes.  Hamilton played some good stuff and undoubtedly have a lot of pace and skill in the team, but they will be disappointed that the only shot they got on target in the whole game was from an offside position.

The games between the teams were tight last season in SWPL2, so although the result will be seen as a shock with the lower league team winning, there hasn’t been much between the sides for a while.

Miller was good as usual for Hearts and Hutchison seemed to be everywhere to break up play and push forward.  Carse would have been delighted with two goals on the opening day and she clearly hasn’t lost any of her skills despite a one-to-one training session with former Hibs, Dundee and Scotland international Kevin Thomson during the close season.  Dodds would have been equally delighted with a debut goal.

Hamilton will need to brush up on their finishing but have enough to make an impact in SWPL1 this season, despite the step up in class.  Gardner always looks a fine player and McGuiness continues to cause problems from out wide.  Quinn always looks solid at left back too.

Full Time: Hearts Ladies 3 Hamilton Accies Ladies 0

Admission: £3

Hearts: 1 Ashley Watson, 14 Lynsey Miller (Hunter 89), 4 Louise Moultray, 6 Megan Paterson, 3 Sharon Hughes, 2 Danni Pagliarulo, 17 Stacey Hutchison, 8 Katie Reilly (Summers 87), 11 Brogan Anderson (Hall 74), 9 Kara Kidd, 10 Ashley Carse (Dodds 80). Subs: 5 Hunter, 7 Michelle Stewart, 12 Jennifer Dodds 15 Lauren Hall, 16 Demi Summers, 18 Becca Smith.

Hamilton: 1 Carys Hopkins, 14 Gill Inglis, 2 Amy Allen (Lindsay 71), 6 Deborah McLeod, 3 Megan Quinn, 4 Lauren Gallen, 18 Emma Lyons (McGill 71), 15 Danielle Connolly, 10 Lori Gardner (Kerr 79), 9 Joanne Paton, 17 Mhairi Lyle (McGuiness 29). Subs: 5 Amie McGill, 7 Lauren Kerr, 11 MT McGuiness, 12 Katherine Jaycock, 16 Jade Lindsay, 19 Kirsty Fraser, 24 Elaine Fleming.

Referee: Vikki Allan

Programme: None.

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