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Hannah Stewart earns Dons hard fought win over Hearts

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Aberdeen secured all three points in Sunday’s SWPL opener against recently promoted Hearts thanks to a solitary strike from Hannah Stewart.

Dons manager Allan Smith handed debuts to Alana Bruce and Donna Paterson, with youngster Shannon McGregor also securing a starting place following some fine pre-season performances.

The home side had the first chance of the game within five minutes as Cassie Cowper fired a crossed ball just wide of the Hearts goal whilst at full stretch.

Rachael Small and Cheryl Anderson combined to set up McGregor in the 14 minute but her turn and shot failed to hit the target.

Just after 20 minutes, Small’s surging run led to Anderson being released through on goal but the final ball sailed wide.

Aberdeen’s pressure continued to mount as the mini-siege on the visitors goalmouth continued, with Hannah Stewart seeing her goal bound effort headed off the line.

On the half hour mark, Dons keeper Becky Flaherty had to be quick on her feet to deny Hearts.

At the other end Cowper tested the Hearts keeper with a long-range effort and proved her worth soon after – flinging herself at the feet of McGregor to deny a certain goal.

The Dons could have been ahead early in the second half, but Fitzpatrick was unable to force her header downwards following a great surging run and cross from Cowper.

The two sides continued to trade the occasional effort; Flaherty dealing with a few shots from distance while Aberdeen continued to try to prise a goal from the hard-working visitors.

The anticipated breakthrough finally arrived in the 58th minute when a sustained period of Aberdeen pressure culminated in Small sliding the ball to Stewart who fire the ball low into the bottom corner of the Hearts net.

As if jolted by going one behind Hearts came within inches of quick-fire equaliser – only a tremendous save from Flaherty ensured a goal bound shout headed over the crossbar.

Aberdeen responded quickly with Small only denied a clear shot on goal by two Hearts defenders just as she was about to pull the trigger.

Some neat play involving Anderson and Fitzpatrick produced Stewart with the opportunity to double Aberdeen’s lead but she could only fire over.

Small and Fitzpatrick would have further chances as the match drew to a close, with the former seeing her effort cleared off the line.

After the match Aberdeen manager Allan Smith commented: “The first game of the season is always a difficult encounter. It took us some time to settle into the game but once we found our footing we produced some great passages of play.

“We had a number of chances and some great deliveries from set plays which we didn’t capitalise on, something we will focus on at training. Hearts played some good football in periods and were very well organised, I believe they will do well in the Premier League this season.

“Overall I am extremely pleased that we didn’t concede and that we managed to secure all three points.”

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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