Aberdeen FC Women survived the sending off of captain Kelly Forrest to move just one win away from the SWPL 2 title with a 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Cormack Park on Thursday night.
Bayley Hutchison’s brace secured an impressive win for Emma Hunter’s side as the Reds avenged a 5-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Thistle earlier in the season.
Sunday’s defeat to Hamilton Accies was the first time the Dons had lost at home all season – and Hunter was delighted they bounced back in style against Brian Graham’s Jags.
“It was one of those games we thought everything was going against us,” said Hunter afterwards. “It felt like that when we played Partick the first time too.
“It looked quite even but the sending off made it really difficult. Luckily for us it happened just before half-time.
“It gave us a chance to regroup and get organised. My message to them was to knuckle down and hit them on the break with Bayley’s pace in behind.
“I think it worked and we did brilliantly just to hold in there.”
Red alert for skipper
Partick came into the game on the back of a 6-0 win over Stirling University on Sunday but ultimately could not find similar success against the Dons.
In the build-up to the match Hunter urged her charges to show more composure as the season reaches a crescendo – and she certainly got that in abundance.
The Reds made two changes to the team which lost to Accies on Sunday, with Jenna Penman and Bailley Collins in for Chloe Gover and Natasha Bruce.
Aberdeen were the better side in possession throughout the opening stages but neither side truly worried the goalkeeper.
Yet a half of few clear cut chances burst into life on 42 minutes when Forrest saw red after Clare Docherty hit the deck.
Aberdeen’s protestations seemed justified but the sending off nonetheless had them momentarily rattled as Thistle won successive corners to see out the half on a positive note.
No stopping Hutchison
That all changed after the break.
With Stephen Glass and Scott Brown looking on, the Dons came out with renewed impetus and took the lead just five minutes into the second period when Hutchison dashed through on goal before drilling a low shot into the bottom left corner.
At times it looked like Partick were the player down as the Dons seemed to be finding Hutchison’s forward runs with increasing ease.
And it was 2-0 just after the hour mark as Hutchison took control of a miscued goal kick before surging into the box, rounding Anna Vincenti and slotting home.
Thereafter Hunter’s side showed why they have the best defence in the league as well as the best attack.
Even with the hosts down a player, Thistle rarely threatened an upset in the closing stages as the Reds rearguard repelled any semblance of a comeback to see out a crucial victory.
— Scottish Building Society SWPL (@SWPL) June 24, 2021
Hunter added: “I think Partick probably gave us the opportunities as well by still playing a high line even though they had the extra player, that played into our hands after we got the first goal as they were chasing the game.
“But we defended really well and I’m so proud of that. Most of the players are 16 or 17 years old so to show that maturity when you’re a player down against a tough team is great, I’m really proud of them.”
State of play
The Dons are now five points clear of second-placed Hamilton with three matches to go and a game in hand on the rest of the top four.
Wednesday night’s matches had saw Accies move up to second spot with a resounding 5-1 win over Dundee United, Aberdeen’s opponents on Sunday afternoon.
Elsewhere, Kilmarnock leapfrogged Glasgow Women into sixth place after a 4-1 win at Greenfield Park, St Johnstone defeated Boroughmuir Thistle 4-3 in Perth while Queen’s Park and Stirling Uni drew 1-1.