Reds Shine in Summer Send Off
Nadia Sopel notched two more goals to set Aberdeen on route to a 5-1 win over Hamilton Academical on Sunday. It was the final U19s SHAAP National Performance League action before the teams take a month-long summer intermission.
Report: Craig Carter
Aberdeen made a number of adjustments to the line up which started last weekend’s Cup Final success against Hearts. Defence was shuffled as Louise Proctor was in for Jessica Broadrick, whilst Georgia Park replaced Leah Jones. Erin Henderson returned on the bench.
Accies entered the Granite City on the back of defeat to Rangers, but started this match very well. Fiona Cullie was unlucky to see her early corner clip the bar. Later, a second delivery by Cullie found Kirsten Officer unmarked at the back post, but she couldn’t make clean contact, and the keeper claimed.
There was, in truth, little in the way of clear opportunities in the opening quarter hour. Eilidh McHattie had a snap effort blocked, but in the main Aberdeen were restricted to shots from distance. A sun-soaked afternoon and a testing crosswind contributed, as the game lacked any meaningful flow.
Things warmed up on 16 minutes though, as the deadlock was broken in somewhat unexpected fashion. A long, angled ball dropped near the left touchline, where Hamilton keeper Emma Boyle had come out, appearing to have the situation controlled as favourite to avert the danger. That danger was a chasing Sopel, who stole in to round the stopper. The finish still was not easy. Nerves of steel.
One became two in a flash, Sopel’s brace arriving by more conventional means. Carved up the line by Ellie Shand, playing at left back, Sopel outstripped her marker to double the home tally.
So, they found themselves two behind, however Hamilton had laid some positive groundwork with notable spells of possession, assertiveness about their passing. A front three of Lucy Foye, Louisa Boyes and Lauren Anderson showed promise in many combinations, Accies working Aberdeen hard.
The goal that brought them back into the contest was a demonstration of that artistry. Built calmly through midfield, Linzi Howat played it to Boyes. A perfect showcase of forwards in unison, as Boyes, who had come short, slid Anderson away on the net, almost instinctively. Composure as she beat Kirsten Pratt for 2-1.
Back within a goal, Hamilton now sensed an opportunity to level the contest, and they had a cluster of chances to do so as we drifted towards the break. Chloe Forrest went close from another corner, before Anderson rasped a freekick in at Pratt – well held.
The young Dons had found it a challenge to move the ball with fluidity at times. Accies compact shape and discipline was proving tricky to break down. However on 43, Sopel may have grabbed her hat trick. This time centrally, she pulled off the shoulder of Kayleigh Mitchell to receive, but couldn’t finish on her right foot.
Meanwhile, Robert Watson’s team would also end with a flurry. Megan Murray had a terrific opening after good setup play by Lucy Foye, but Pratt shut her out and the hosts’ lead was retained.
Half Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 2-1 Hamilton Academical Women
Seeking a spark, Aberdeen rang the changes shortly after half time, as Henderson and Emily Neish were brought on. Any pattern to the match remained unclear though, with the next goal crucial. Lucy Foye was first to have a say, her shot on the turn blocked to safety.
Eight second half minutes elapsed before that elusive goal. It came for Aberdeen. Passed short from a freekick at halfway, Bailey Collins turned for the target. An intelligent dragback created shooting space outside the area. Boyle was down smartly, but her parry fell for Eilidh McHattie to score on the rebound.
The striker, who bagged the Cup-clinching goal in Motherwell last weekend, was playing her last match for the Reds. Eilidh faces an exciting new challenge, as she moves to the USA to continue in further education and football development. The captain for the day has been talismanic for her teammates, and they all, including myself as writer, wish her the best for the future.
Back to the game, Hamilton were still trying to probe for space, but found Aberdeen’s reformed backline in stubborn mood. They gained territory on some occasions down the flanks, Lucy Foye at the heart of good running, whilst skipper Alex Fraser became more influential with some decent sequences of play out from defence, but no way through.
On the hour, Aberdeen made it four. Emily Neish orchestrated the move, crossing low. The incoming Collins and McHattie were on the stretch to pressurise Emma Boyle, the ball squirting to the far post where Erin Henderson was on hand to tap in.
In general, the introduction of substitutes had brought better security to both teams. Katie Arnold and Zoe Clark were on for Accies, in place of Louisa Boyes and Linzi Howat. Jessica Broadrick and Leah Jones replaced Eleanor Cooper and Ellie Shand, sending Louise Proctor to right back. Emily Dalgetty switched in for McHattie to warm applause.
It wasn’t long until Proctor produced from her new position. Bailey Collins’ set-piece should have seen Sopel convert, but as the ball popped out to the edge, Proctor was sharp minded, nipping in to hook the ball into the corner. All too often unsung for her consistency, a nice contribution for a model performer.
In the final fifteen, Lucy Foye had an opportunity to pull one back, calling upon Pratt to keep her concentration. At the other end, Dalgetty struck one straight at the goalkeeper.
Foye went one-on-one again in the final moments, matched again by the girl between the sticks. Kirsten Pratt was inspired all afternoon, answering Accies. Hamilton’s Emma Boyle was also excellent throughout, making wonderful saves to keep her team in the match.
It needs to be said that Hamilton can be very proud of their performance as a whole, particularly in the first half. They gave a wholehearted display belying their League placing, and have extremely talented young players in the group. Lauren Anderson, Howat and Foye stood out, amongst a few. Collective play from middle to front was exceptional for periods, and should give encouragement to the team.
Aberdeen go into the summer break ahead of the pack in the NPL, rounding off a successful time for the Club.
A well-earned rest awaits for teams up and down the country, all of whom give the maximum focus and ability to their game. Fun to watch, that’s for sure. See you soon everyone, we’ll do it all again.
Full Time: Aberdeen FC Ladies 5-1 Hamilton Academical Women
Aberdeen FC Ladies: Pratt, Rogers, Collins, Proctor, Whittingham, Sopel, McHattie, Innes, Cooper, Shand, Park
Substitutes: Broadrick, Hannah, Reid, Henderson, Neish, Jones, Dalgetty
Hamilton Academical: Boyle, Fraser, Forrest, Mitchell, Howat, Officer, M. Murray, Cullie, Anderson, Boyes, Foye
Substitutes: Clark, Arnold, E. Murray