Hearts Women experience delight and deflation in encouraging season-ending draw with Spartans
Hearts Women finished their season with a draw at home to Spartans in an encounter which showcased all the emotions of football.
Andy Kirk’s side displayed their improvement across the season as they created a number of chances against their city rivals who failed to secure fourth spot, Hibs pipping them due to a 7-0 thrashing of Forfar Farmington.
Hearts looked like they had grabbed their third league win of the campaign with Murron Cunningham’s late penalty, only for Spartans to equalise seconds later from a corner headed in by Becky Galbraith.
It has been a campaign of progress for the Jam Tarts under the sharp and engaging Andy Kirk and Aaron Hughes and the manner of their performance against a good Spartans side was hugely encouraging for the young team going forward.
Within the first eight minutes the Hearts had two fine opportunities.
Lia Tweedie took advantage of a ricochet to run through on goal but her effort was saved by Alicia Yates.
Moments later captain Mariel Kaney showed excellent anticipation to press and win the ball back at the edge of the Spartans box. However, her early effort was well saved once again by Yates, a recent call-up to the Scotland Under-19s.
The visitors possessed a real threat from set pieces. Technically gifted Alana Marshall has a wand of a left foot and the captain clipped the bar from a corner.
Later in the half a tantalising ball from Simone McMahon was met powerfully by Galbraith but her header cannoned off the woodwork.
On the half hour mark for Hearts, a dangerous cross from Claire Delworth found Tweedie but a chance didn’t quite materialise.
A far better one arrived on the stroke of half time when the excellent Jenny Smith, the team’s creative spark, shifted the ball left to Katey Turner but her effort hit the side netting high up.
Spartans were left aggrieved seconds before the whistle blew when an errant linesman’s flag adjudged Galbraith was offside when she ran on to a Marshall through ball.
The visitors started the second half strongly after half-time words from Debbi McCulloch.
Sarah Clelland did brilliantly down the left and delivered a cross which found Simone McMahon but her deft flick just missed the far post.
Hearts responded through Tweedie, who had moved into midfield following a first-half reshuffle after Paige McAllister picked up an injury.
She drove forward and the ball was worked wide to Turner. Her cut back was met by the onrushing Tweeide but she didn't get the connection right at the ball trundled wide.
There was a real back and forth element to much of the encounter which kept it entertaining throughout.
Hearts were caught out from a ball played in behind the defence by Galbraith but the talented Michaela McAlonie zipped her effort wide.
Once again chances were exchanged with Kaney seeing an effort saved by Yates before Charlotte Parker-Smith was forced into a low save from Caley Gibb.
Just when the game appeared to be heading for a goalless stalemate, Hearts substitute Aimee Anderson was brought down in the box after inventive play from Smith.
Cunningham made no mistake from the spot.
However, Hearts couldn’t hold on. Galbraith demonstrated her prowess in the air, powering in a header to earn a point for Spartans.