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Aberdeen Women must adapt to psychological demands of top flight football, says co-boss Emma Hunter

Aberdeen FC Women's boss Emma Hunter
Aberdeen FC Women's boss Emma Hunter

Aberdeen Women will be hoping to right past wrongs when they travel to Hearts in the second meeting between the two sides in SWPL 1 this season.

The first meeting ended 3-2 in Hearts favour after the Dons gave away a 2-0 lead – now an unwanted familiar story having done the same again against Spartans last weekend.

Conceding flurries of goals in short spaces of time has been an issue in their first season back in the top flight, and something that co-boss Emma Hunter knows needs to stop.

But rather than a change of tactics or style of play, she believes that a different mentality must be adopted if Aberdeen are to improve their game management and cope in SWPL 1.

Going behind and losing games is not something her players are used to having stormed SWPL 2 and SWF Division 1 North but the Dons are now competing against the best teams in the country in the top flight.

Hunter admits that her players must quickly adapt to unfamiliar territory if they want to establish themselves as a threat in SWPL 1.

She said: “We don’t spend too much time discussing things that have happened in the past and I think it’s important that you look forward.

“But inherently, there has been an issue in that we go ahead and then end up losing the game.

“We have to find out what that’s happening and we have to rectify that.

Hearts celebrate coming from behind to beat Aberdeen Women 3-2

“For us, it’s more the psychology of the game we need to work on and we’ve talked about that. The ten minutes you score a goal and the ten minutes you concede are the most important times in the game.

“We should be coming together as group and having those conversations on the pitch, rather than being despondent.

“Have those conversations with your teammates, talk about the problems and pick your head up and keep going.

“It’s about trying to get that mentality, and the experience is more than anything we lack.”

A much needed three points

The Dons are currently seventh in the table but a win against Hearts could send them up to fifth.

However, a loss might see them slip into the bottom two ahead of a tough run of fixtures against Rangers, Hibs and Glasgow City, so Hunter’s side understand the importance of picking up all three points.

And while points will be the priority, the clash will also be an opportunity for Aberdeen to avenge their last outing against the Midlothian side.

“We’ll have to get the points against them, all is not lost after the Spartans game. One of our key messages is perspective,” Hunter said.

“It’s so close in the league that three points puts us right up where we want to be again.

“It’s an opportunity to put right our last game against Hearts and the best way to do that is on the pitch.

“Hopefully we’ll bring that energy and focus to make things happen.”

Under new manager Eva Olid, the Jambos have adopted a more professional approach and now train five times a week.

Their schedule includes day time sessions, as well as working with video analysts, nutritionists and sports scientists.

All of which is starting to benefit their performances on the pitch so Hunter knows not to underestimate this weekend’s opposition.

“It’s a good fixture to have right now but it’ll be a difficult game for us,” Hunter added.

“Eva (Olid) is now just settling in with the team and you can see what they’re trying to implement at the club.

“The resources they’ve got and now they’re training more will help them, you can see they’ve got more structure in the way that they play.

“They’re organised and energetic so we’ll have to match up to that.”

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