After a torrid 90 minutes, Kirsty McIntyre’s stunning last-gasp strike keeps Accies within touching distance of yesterday’s opponents at the foot of the table. The season now enters the home strait and it could turn out to be a very important moment in the league campaign.
Accies had fallen behind after taking the lead from the spot, only to lose Jade Lindsay in the process after violent conduct. We had a half an hour to defend, but a Santoyo-Brown wonder strike and a late penalty had got Spartans’ noses in front.
With one last attack, McIntosh’s boot restored some hope, and it felt like three points rather than just a share of the spoils. Post-match Assistant coach Bobby Watson tried to sum up a range of emotions on the day.
“It was a very nervy game, without a lot of chances. 1-0 up but down to ten, we’d have probably taken a point from this.”
“It eventually took a wonder strike and a penalty to score against us. But today we showed the belief is still there. We’re scoring goals and defending well as a team. We took risks at the end and Kirsty’s goal was our reward.”
“Jade apologised to her teammates, the opposing player and the referee after the game. She’d been playing very up until that crazy moment. She’s been a big player for us and we’ll miss her now as she serves a suspension.”
Gary Doctor shuffled things around after the defeat to Glasgow City a fortnight ago. Lori Gardner returned up front and Amy Bulloch returned at the back after injury.
Spartans had won two of their last three, but games have been tight with Accies over the last few seasons. And so it proved in a first half was a frantic deadlock of few clear-cut openings.
There was one clear double fire opportunity, and it came the host’s way, as Rebecca Galbraith struck the inside of Grant’s post from the edge of the box. The ball came back in and Keila McDonald-Nhuagh missed an even better chance, striking the post at point blank range.
Accies were dogged and disciplined, without really carrying much of a threat of their own. But all of that was to change on 55 minutes. Gardner went down in the box for a stonewall penalty, but in the ensuing melee, Lindsay lost her composure with a headbutt on Alana Marshall.
Anderson sent Harrison the wrong way and Accies had the bittersweet feeling of being a goal up and a player down for over 30 minutes of the game.
The ten players proved hard to break down though, and it was to take something special 10 minutes later to reignite Spartans hopes. Santoyo-Brown collected the ball on the corner of the box, turning to chip an unstoppable shot into Grant’s top left corner.
With their tails up, Spartans then won a spot-kick on 81 minutes, with Galbraith going down in the box as Grant rushed out to clear.
It was a bitter blow to fall behind so late in this contest, but with one last throw of the dice Garner flicked on to McIntosh on the edge of the box and her delightful lob brought the curtain down on a pulsating contest.
It all leaves everything in the balance now, with the fate of teams both top and bottom of the table likely to come down to the final week. Accies still have a fighting chance of beating the drop, ahead of the visit of Hibs a week on Sunday, and Watson thinks his players can draw on experiences from the past few seasons.
“We might have that advantage over Spartans in that we’ve escaped from this situation before, while they’ve been used to the other end of the table. We had to win big games to get up to this league, and big games last season to stay up.”
“If you’d said to me we had to win our final game at Forfar to stay up, I’d have taken it. The players are up for the challenge.”
Spartans: Harrison, D McMahon, McAlonie, Douglas, Marshall, McDonald-Nguah, Galbraith, Johnstone, Santoyo-Brown, Briggs, McGonigle; Subs Unused: Mawson, Clelland, S McMahon, Frew, Reynolds, Murphy
Accies: Grant, Quinn, Connolly, Fraser, McIntosh, Anderson, Hay, Gardner, Bulloch, Rice, Lindsay; Subs Unused: Hopkins, Ross, Lyons, Fitzsimmons, Quigley, Lyle, Brown