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Daily Record
Daily Record
Ben Ramage

Super St Mirren Women put on a show at SMiSA Stadium to seal historic Westdyke victory

St Mirren Women made the most of their historic SMiSA Stadium appearance by smashing title-hopefuls Westdyke.

Backed by a strong crowd the Buddies deservedly took the lead when Naomi Clark-Granger nodded home Jennifer Caldwell's pinpoint corner.

Kate Cooper's Saints doubled their lead before the break when Kelly Ross rifled home Helen McLeod's clever knock-down.

St Mirren were dominant throughout and put the result almost beyond doubt early in the second half when super sub Francesca Blair slammed home from close-range.

The hosts cruised to full-time before lapping up the applause from the Saints supporters, sealing a day to remember on what was only the club's second ever match at the SMiSA.

The club's top scorer Ceara Macintyre led the line alongside Kelly Ross up front, with skipper Karen McCabe at the heart of defence.

The hosts started brightly in the Paisley sunshine. Macintyre burst down the left wing before cutting the ball back into the middle. She just couldn't pick out Jennifer Caldwell in the box.

Full back McLeod began the game strongly. Her header forward almost set up a chance, with Westdyke keeper Megan Girardi racing off her line well to collect the ball.

The in-form visitors forced a series of corners but the Buddies held firm to keep the game scoreless.

Westdyke's Katrina Innes was fortunate to escape a booking for a late challenge on Kelly Ross.

St Mirren were eager to get the ball forward at every opportunity on their home turf. Gemma Dickson went on a mazy run down the left flank, beating two defenders before crossing for Kelly Ross. Westdyke keeper Girardi again just got to the ball first, with the visitors' number one coming off her line well throughout the first half.

There was a concerning break in play after a clash of heads as a corner was swung into the box, with McLeod receiving treatment. Thankfully she was fit enough to continue, with Westdyke's Erin Cordiner unfortunately forced off early. She was replaced by Christie Mackenzie.

From the restart the Buddies burst into the lead. Caldwell's sweetly hit corner picked out Clark-Granger in the box, who powered home a header from close-range.

The Saints had the wind in their sails, linking up nicely in the middle of the park and picking their way down the right flank particularly well.

Dickson fired over the bar after racing on to Kelly Ross' flick-on as the hosts threatened to double their lead.

Leanne Reid headed wide from a promising position as the visitors looked to battle their way level before the break.

Katrina Innes got a stern word from the referee after a cynical foul on Macintyre, with the Westdyke player again fortunate to escape a booking.

Just before break the Saints doubled their lead. A clever knock down in the box from McLeod set up Kelly Ross, who blasted in from close range.

Saints keeper Joanne Casey had been a virtual spectator in the first half but she had to be alert to run out and block Caitlin Watt as she burst dangerously in on goal.

Saints introduced Blair and Layla Phillip at half-time as the Paisley side looked to maintain their healthy advantage.

Macintyre tried her luck from distance early in the second half but keeper Girardi was equal to her powerful effort.

Striker Kelly Ross almost got on the end of a teasing cross but was beaten to the ball by the Westdyke number one, taking a sore knock for her troubles in the process.

Head coach Kate Cooper decided to take the chance to introduce Maxine Fury to the fray, replacing Ross who was adamant the challenge should have resulted in a penalty.

Seconds later the Buddies had their third. Skipper McCabe fired a pinpoint corner into the box, with sub Blair firing the hosts even further in front.

Sara Nichol replaced the impressive Ema Beka with half an hour left on the clock, with the Saints cruising but still aware of the threat Westdyke posed up front.

Despite their healthy lead St Mirren continued to press for a fourth goal as the clock ticked down.

They thought they'd finally unlocked the Westdyke defence when Blair was sent racing in on goal. Only an ugly tackle could stop the midfielder, with Innes going into the book and perhaps fortunate to not see red.

In the end the home side were more than content with a clean sheet and three unanswered strikes in what was ultimately a perfect afternoon for the Buddies.


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