Hearts Women secured a sensational victory against Aberdeen Women at the Balmoral Stadium in Cove on Sunday.
Trailing 2-0 in the first half, things looked bleak, but a stunning turnaround from the Gorgie Girls earned a famous win in the north.
After Wednesday’s bruising victory to Hibs at Easter Road in front of a record-breaking attendance, Eva Olid made two changes to the side with Beth McKay missing out through illness and Aimee Anderson dropping to the bench, with Claire Delworth returning to the side and Addie Handley making her first start.
In blustery conditions, the wind was playing havoc early doors and that meant both teams struggled to gain a foothold, but the hosts drew first blood. A long ball over the Hearts defence wasn’t dealt with properly, and Eva Thomson smashed in a half-volley on the angle that flew past Charlotte Parker-Smith.
Jenny Smith attempted an immediate response, but her shot from 20 yards was saved. Aberdeen then doubled their lead a minute later, when Louise Brown flicked home a finish from a corner at the near post.
Following the derby defeat, it looked as if confidence was low in the Hearts team, but resilience and character is something this squad has in spades, and they grabbed themselves a lifeline two minutes before the break.
Monica Forsyth collected a ball 25 yards out from goal and let fly, with her shot crashing off the crossbar after catching out keeper Gail Gilmour, and Amelie Birse was first to react to nod home the rebound, the 17-year-old striker netting her first goal for Hearts in the process.
Hearts’ tails were up at this point going into the interval, and they came out of the traps flying. With the wind at their backs, they started going slightly more direct and it paid dividends immediately. Gilmour came out of her box to close down Birse, who had been played in by Forsyth, but the ball rebounded back to the winger who tapped into an empty net to level.
After the adrenaline rush of rescuing the game, Hearts had to focus again, and two superb saves from Parker-Smith to deny Thomson from outside the area in the space of 5 minutes kept the Jambos in it. Hearts then had their own chance on the break, Smith feeding Maria McAneny on the right but her left-footed strike was saved.
The Jambos then took the lead, turning the game on its head, with 20 minutes left. Another long ball caught out the Aberdeen defence, with Gilmour coming out of her area to clear but playing it straight to Birse who shot into an empty net from 25 yards.
Hearts defended from the front, winning a flurry of corners late on, before Parker-Smith was called into action with four minutes left, beating away a stinging volley from Nadia Sopel. The game had a nervy ending with 7 minutes of added time, but the superb central defensive pairing of Georgia Hunter and Tegan Browning cleared every long ball, and that was enough for the three points.
Hearts: Parker-Smith; Delworth, Hunter, Browning, Cowan; Kaney, Handley (Anderson 61); Forsyth, Smith, McAneny; Birse. Subs not used: Tebbett, Tweedie, Aitchison, Davies, Thomson, Begg.
After the match, Eva Olid spoke to heartsfc.co.uk: “I’m so happy for everyone, this was a difficult week after two hard games against Rangers and Hibs but I think today we showed that we are here to compete, and this is just the first win of more to come.”
(Picture courtesy of Stephen Dobson).