Hearts Women were defeated by title chasing Rangers in Wednesday night’s SWPL1 match at the Rangers Training Centre.
It was always going to be a tough game, but the Hearts girls maintained their typical positive attitude and played out a competitive second half after losing three goals in the opening period.
Rangers were ahead after 9 minutes, despite a strong and confident opening from the Jambos. The ball worked its way across the area to Zoe Ness and she tapped in from close range. Two minutes later, the lead was doubled when Brogan Hay hit the byline and whipped in a cross that was converted by Lizzie Arnot.
Hearts continued to battle away and were looking threatening on the counter against the very high Rangers line, but this meant Rangers could also counter back with Hearts chasing the game, and the home side drew Charlotte Parker-Smith into action twice, first through Bala Devi whose top corner effort was net-bound but Parker-Smith threw herself to her right and tipped it over, before Ness attempted to get her second but found the keeper equal.
After half an hour, a finish of real quality from Arnot was what was required to score as she curled in a lovely effort from the left hand side of the area beyond Parker-Smith and into the corner.
Andy Kirk introduced a trio of sixteen-year-olds in the second half, with Amelie Birse going up front, Eilidh Davies wide left and Shona Cowan in at left back, and their youthful energy gave Hearts a spark, with Birse in particular pressing Rangers higher up the park and pushing their high line deeper.
Parker-Smith was called into action again on the hour mark when Hay wriggled her way into space in the area but saw her shot blocked. At the other end, Hearts had their best chance when the impressive Monica Forsyth found room down the left and crossed for Davies, who shot just over the bar on the half-volley.
Ruthless Rangers capitalised on that, however, when Sonia O’Neill prodded home after a cross wasn’t cleared by the Hearts defence, although Murron Cunningham made a valiant attempt to block the effort. Moments later, Ness thought she’d scored but Parker-Smith again was her equal.
As time wore down, Rangers hit the woodwork twice in a minute through Rachel McLauchlan and Ness, before O’Neill made her way into the area and fired a rocket at goal from around ten yards that Parker-Smith, yet again, tipped over, somehow leaving a side leading by four frustrated with their evening.
Player of the match: Charlotte Parker-Smith
Hearts: Parker-Smith, Delworth, McIntosh, Cunningham, Williamson, Smith, Kaney (Davies 56), Aitchison (Cowan 79), Forsyth, Tweedie, Turner (Birse 46). Subs: Vincenti, Anderson, Begg, Hunter.
Report: Chris McPherson
Photo: David Mollison