Aberdeen Women returned to winning ways in difficult circumstances with a 2-1 victory over Spartans – who had a player taken away in an ambulance due to a serious injury.
At Balmoral Stadium, Aberdeen went 2-o up after Bayley Hutchison scored in the 19th minute before captain Hannah Stewart doubled the lead five minutes later.
The game was suspended at 2-0 for more than 30 minutes, just before the first half came to an end after Spartans forward Becky Galbraith went down with a neck injury and an ambulance had to be called.
Spartans pulled a goal back in injury time through Caley Gibb, but it proved to be a consolation effort as the Dons held on for a nervy final few minutes as it finished 2-1.
The win – which is the Reds side’s sixth of the SWPL season – keeps Aberdeen in seventh, but they are now only two points behind Hearts in sixth and five clear of eighth-placed Motherwell.
Aberdeen assistant coach Derek Anderson wished Spartans forward Galbraith well after his side secured the three points amid the difficult circumstances.
He said: “It’s never nice when an injury like that happens and we wish her all the best. We hope the injury isn’t too bad and she comes back from it as soon as possible.
“I think before the incident happened we were doing well and were playing sharp football. We deserved to go 2-0 up.
“But when the injury happens there is a 30-minute break and it’s never easy to stay motivated in those circumstances. The break had an impact and I think it broke our rhythm and flow.
“I don’t think we were as good in the second half as we were in the first.
“Spartans came back into the game and credit to them for that because they had one of their team-mates taken away in an ambulance and I am sure they wanted to get the three points for her.
“But we have a principal way we want to play and the gaffer (Clint Lancaster) has his philosophy, and we stuck at it to get the win and three points.”
Aberdeen Women go 2-0 up before lengthy break over Spartans injury halts game
A bit of individual skill from Hannah Innes saw the Dons hit the first chance of the match, but after driving into the box – twisting and turning to beat the Spartans defence – her shot was held by goalkeeper Alicia Yates.
The visitors then went up the other end and won a corner, which Dion McMahon connected with in the air and proved to be an awkward save for Annalisa McCann.
There had been few chances, but Hutchison has proven this season she only needs one opportunity to find the back of the net as she put Aberdeen in front.
The forward netted her 13th SWPL goal – only one behind her best league return which came in the 2021-22 season – as she just beat McMahon for pace and unleashed a powerful strike into the top corner from a tight angle.
Aberdeen skipper Stewart made it 2-0 as she got on the end of a superb Hutchison pass and slotted the ball into the bottom corner beyond Yates from a few yards out.
Innes went so close to making it 3-0 after only half an hour played, but her strike from distance was superbly pushed over the bar by Spartans goalkeeper Yates.
Spartans had the ball in the back of the net after 35 minutes after McCann fumbled a cross and gifted Gibb a header, however, she was adjudged to be offside by the linesman.
After the lengthy break in play due to Galbraith’s injury, play restarted with a Spartans free-kick which Alana Marshall saw saved by a diving McCann in the Aberdeen goal.
In the second half – after a reduced half-time break – it was the visitors who started well, but rarely created clear-cut opportunities, despite having the lion’s share of possession.
Dons defender Madison Finnie conceded a foul 20 yards out which was well defended by the home side after Marshall hit a powerful effort after being laid off by Rebecca Foote.
Having failed to trouble Yates at all after the interval, Aberdeen finally tested the Spartans goalkeeper as Phoebe Murray unleashed a strike from 30-yards out which was only just tipped onto the bar.
In the dying minutes, Francesca Ogilvie gave away a free-kick 25 yards out from goal, but Marshall’s resulting strike from the set-piece was well off target.
There were two quickfire Spartans chances before full-time as Gibb saw her effort from inside the box come back off the post, before Lauren Berman was denied by a good diving save from McCann.
The Dons also had an opportunity to add a third as the game livened up in the final minutes, but substitute Hannah Insch’s strike was held by Yates.
Spartans reduced the deficit in injury time when Gibb headed home from only a few yards out after Hannah Jordan sent a floated cross into the box.