Manager Kevin Murphy said after the match: “Credit to the players today they refused to let this game go and kept coming back at Spartans. This was as good a performance as I could have asked for in very difficult conditions and showed that the players do have the ability and drive to take this club forward.”
In atrocious windy conditions it was a credit to both teams that they served up a match full of good football, incident and goals.
The game got off to a flyer when in only four minutes a ball over the top caught the Hamilton defence napping and as Megan Cunningham advanced towards the danger Spartan’s Di Barry calmly lobbed it over her head.
Hamilton playing with the wind at their backs got control of the midfield and began to exert some pressure on the home team without giving the keeper any great problems. That was all to change when on 30 minutes a mistake in the home defence allowed Sarah Crilly to steal the ball from the Spartans left back play a quick one-two with Jackie Seagrave and beat the keeper with a fine finish.
Spartans came back at Hamilton almost from the restart and only a terrific one-handed save from Cunningham kept the scores level. Hamilton responded themselves and only two minutes later took the lead. A poor pass across the edge of the penalty box allowed Cheryl McCulloch to intercept and fire a powerful shot high past the Spartans keeper. Chances came and went for both teams but there was no further scoring in the first half.
With Hamilton now playing into the teeth of the wind the second half was always going to be a struggle to keep their lead, in fact it only took 3 minutes for the home team to draw level.
A bouncing ball wasn’t cleared properly and Spartans striker Sarah Ewens latched onto it to send it high past Cunningham in goal. Only six minutes later Ewens again pounced on an error and this time took the ball to the by line and cut it back for Barry to notch her second of the match and give the home team a 3-2 lead.
After this poor start to the second half it would have been easy for Hamilton to let the game run away from them but to their credit they fought back and began to create several half chances of their own.
With only 8 minutes remaining Hamilton finally got the equaliser their pressure deserved, Helen Templeton on as a sub won the ball on the half way line and played the ball through to young Carolina Richardson who up to that point had been having a quiet match. Richardson with her back to goal turned her defender on the edge of the box and hit an absolute screamer into the top corner.
The game was now there for both teams to win and chances were created at either end, deep into added time a mistake on the left by the Hamilton defence allowed a cross into the box that was only partially cleared and the ball was hammered into the net by Spartans midfielder Louise Young to put the home team 4-3 up.
Hamilton had worked too hard not to take anything from this match and with the referee looking at his watch Crilly won a corner on the right. Everyone bar the keeper was waved forward into the penalty box, Cara McBrearty delivered the perfect ball onto the head of Toni Mason and she powered the header down past the flailing hands of the keeper. The Hamilton players, coaching staff and supporters celebrated as if they had won the cup.
This was the best Hamilton have played since the start of the season and they more than deserved to take something from this game.
Report written by James Crilly