Johnstone Sports Hub, Johnstone
14th October, 2012
A bright day when the sun made an appearance but damned cold when it was concealed behind the dark clouds although those on the field of play didn’t seem too concerned.
It was maroon clad Stenhousemuir who ventured forward first in a tough first half. Dani Pretty with a shot from distance on the left, which looked goal-bound but keeper Vikki Gavin observed the ball passing inches beyond her right post.
The match was moved from East Kilbride due to waterlogged pitches to the 3G at Johnstone, which both sides appeared to be comfortable on but chances were few and far between in the first 45 minutes. The battles were to be seen in midfield. They were physical but fair.
Claremont’s Lucy Clark broke through on the left, entering the box with one thing on her mind but the joint efforts of Kerry Adams, Laura Thomson and keeper Fiona Reid prevented the striker hitting the target.
Gemma Dawson’s long range dipping shot landed comfortable in the Claremont keeper’s arms as both sides failed to make any real impact on either goalmouth.
Claremont had a couple of chances from long balls over the top which Kimberley Gilmour was given offside for but on both occasions the girl was onside, running from behind the defenders. The latter of these resulted in the match referee having words with the hosts bench. Frustrated as the player and coach were, it cannot be easy for the referee when he is out there alone and I sympathise with him as much as I do the player.
Gilmour finally got the benefit of the doubt, beating the offside trap again but Reid was quick to react with a double save at the feet of the striker. Fantastic goalkeeping.
Claremont began applying pressure and could have scored but for good defending as Dionne Brown’s corner was whacked on the volley by Gill McLennan but Thomson matched her effort with a volley off the line.
Stenhousemuir gave their chances of taking the three points and third place in the league a huge boost after 30 minutes. Goalkeeper Reid’s long clearance eluded everyone, falling to Dawson and despite the close attention of a defender, shot into the right corner to open the scoring.
The home side almost scored with the next move of the match as Brown was put through on the right of the box. Reid dived at the winger’s feet but spilled the ball allowing Brown to shoot from a very tight angle only to see Adams clear the ball off the line. Once again – great covering from the visitors’ defence.
A lovely ball over the top from Rachel Everett, presented Brown with another scoring opportunity but Reid was well positioned to deal with her effort
Brown’s long diagonal ball had Stenhousemuir hearts in their mouths when Adams’ back header almost made its way into their net. The result was a corner which Brown swung in. After a bit of commotion in the box, the referee blew for a spot kick, adjudging that the ball had hit Thomson’s arm. It looked a soft one as the ball was hit from a foot or so away from her and her arms weren’t in the air but a penalty it was, despite protests from the team in maroon.
Up stepped Lauren McMurray to send the keeper the wrong way and even the game up at one all with 36 minutes played.
Dawson almost nicked the lead again running into the box with just the keeper to beat. Gavin, however displayed great bravery, diving at the striker’s feet to make a very good save. Both keepers appearing to be pretty adept and happy diving at the feet of attackers.
Half-Time: Claremont 1 Stenhousemuir 1. Not the best 45 minutes I have ever witnessed but it was a good physical battle with some excellent football on display, particularly in the middle of the park.
Claremont began to show they could play football, playing the ball from the left, through midfield and out to right; probing at the visitors’ back line before Clark tried a 19 yard drive. Reid happy to watch the ball pass beyond her left stanchion.
A 35 yard dig from Sara Paterson had Reid showing greater concern but it was going to take something with more power and accuracy to beat her.
Brown’s corner from the right was headed away by the defence but only as far as Gilmour but yet again, it was too direct and Reid clutched the ball to her chest comfortably.
The hosts were enjoying the majority of the possession and now dominating the match without any reward.
Then Paterson provided that bit of magic that was required to put the ball beyond Reid. An awesome strike from 23 yards hit the bar, bouncing down and into the net. A screamer of a shot that deserved to win any match.
So with 60 minutes played, Stenhousemuir would have to come from behind if they were to take third place from Claremont.
It was however The East Kilbride club who would push on first. Gilmour breaking into the box on the left, squaring the ball for the unmarked Brown who was taken by surprise, as the ball arrived at her feet. She had to hit it in her stride but she couldn’t deliver the power to trouble Reid.
Later Brown with another tempting corner presented Clark with a glorious chance to make it three. However Steph Crichton’s attempt at heading into the net failed, despite being one of the tallest girls on the park, she couldn’t reach it and all that Clark could do was take the ball on her knee and hope. It wasn’t enough!
Stenhousemuir were far from dead and buried although clear cut chances were not falling for them.
An astonishing free-kick from the halfway line by Natalie Wilson, had everyone mesmerised as it rattled the bar, bounced down but unlike the one at the opposite end, it came out and was eventually cleared by a frantic Claremont rearguard. What a goal that would have been from Wilson though.
To add to Wilson’s and Stenhousemuir’s misery, Gavin’s long ball bounced over the central defence permitting Clark to burst through. Wilson brought her down in the penalty area and as last person and it being a goal scoring opportunity, had to go. A straight red was produced and up stepped McMurray to nail her second spot kick to give the home side a 3 – 1 lead.
With minutes to go, Clark entered the box on the left and fired low into the opposite corner to ensure it was going to be a good night for the home side as they celebrated third spot in the league behind Murieston and Accies Reserves.
There was almost a fifth right at the death when Paterson rattled the post from 19 yards or so.
I don’t think anyone could deny that Claremont deserved their victory for they certainly had the bulk of the chances but the visitors made them battle hard for it.
Stewart First Aid Training Player of the Match: Some commendable performances from both sides but one girl dominated midfield, worked tirelessly to win the ball for her side, used it well when they had possession and was head and shoulders above the others. That girl was Steph Crichton who was presented with her trophy after the match. Our player interview will follow soon from Steph.
Claremont: V. Gavin, McKenzie, McLennan, McMurray, Brown, Gilmour, Clark, Kirkland, Paterson, Everett, Crichton Subs: L. Gavin
Stenhousemuir: Reid, Anderson, McCabe, Adams, K. Thomson, Hunt, Allan, V. Thomson, L. Wilson, Dawson, Pretty Subs: K. Wilson, Dickson, Taylor
More images from this match can be found by clicking here. A big thank you to Emma McMurray for assisting with the photographic work.