Hearts Women lost out to reigning SWPL1 champions Glasgow City at Oriam on Sunday afternoon.
The Jambos were defeated by two first-half goals, but showed real grit and impressive defensive discipline to restrict the goalscoring any further.
There was just the one change - an enforced one - from the side that won in sensational circumstances last weekend against Aberdeen, with Maria McAneny dropping out due to a knock, and Holly Aitchison coming in for her first league start of the season.
Hearts got off to the worst possible start after ten minutes, when the ball was cut back to Aoife Colvill on the penalty spot. Charlotte Parker-Smith produced a top save, but Colvill was first to the rebound and smashed home ahead of Tegan Browning’s last-gasp challenge.
The first-half went much as anticipated, with Hearts not seeing much of the ball, but doing well in containing the champions. Colvill did come close ten minutes after scoring, but she volleyed wide at the near post.
Hearts did have an opportunity on the counter when Amelie Birse, fresh for her double up north last week, found half a yard in the area, but hit her shot wayward from the edge of the box.
City added a second just prior to half-time when Lauren Davidson managed to get in behind Claire Delworth, who had pushed up the park, leaving her one-on-one with Monica Forsyth. She got past Forsyth, and squared for Hayley Lauder who side footed home from 12 yards.
After the break, Hearts would have been forgiven for folding against a side that won their last match 9-0 against Spartans, but the defensive work undertaken by Eva Olid was evident in the second half as City passed from side to side but struggled to find a way through.
With four important players missing through injury, the manager used the bench to try and keep the squad as fresh as possible, introducing Beth McKay and Eilidh Davies off the bench into midfield, and 16-year-old Tyler Thomson for her first-team debut.
Davidson and Lauder remained the ones to watch for the visitors, however, and Davidson drew a superb stop from Parker-Smith on the hour mark, with the keeper getting down well to hold the ball. With 15 minutes left, Lauder shot for goal from a Cailin Michie cut-back, and Parker-Smith made a stunning save to stop the effort which was about to drop over the line, but Shona Cowan appeared to head the ball clear.
The last action of the match came to Hearts. The three subs, McKay, Davies and Thomson made a positive impression in the final third, and Davies nearly opened her Hearts account in style. Showing supreme confidence, she drove at goal and unleashed a superb strike from 25 yards which, had it been on target, would have left Lee Alexander with no chance.
As it was, the ball whistled just past the post, but it was a positive note on which to end a good afternoon’s work, despite the final result, with Hearts facing a huge match against Motherwell next weekend.
Hearts: Parker-Smith; Delworth, Hunter, Browning, Cowan; Forsyth, Handley (Davies 67), Kaney, Smith, Aitchison (McKay 57); Birse (Thomson 77). Subs not used: Tebbett, Begg.
Photo: David Mollison