Spartans 3-1 Motherwell: Debbi McCulloch's side move clear in fourth place in SWPL 1

Goals from Sarah Clelland, Becky Galbraith and Michaela McAlonie were enough to see Spartans to victory over Motherwell at Ainslie Park.

The win put Debbi McCulloch’s side six points clear in fourth place, with Hibs losing 3-1 to Celtic later in the afternoon.

Nicole Pullar scored for Motherwell, who remain two points clear of Hearts at the foot of the table.

Both sides began the game brightly, with Spartans taking an early lead when full back Clelland fired a venomous strike into the top left corner when Galbraith found her in space inside the penalty box.

Galbraith nearly doubled the lead soon after when she headed over, but Spartans were lucky moments later that Bobbie Beveridge recovered well to prevent Jade Gallon from finishing when she was put through on goal.

Their reprieve was only temporary, though, as Gallon escaped from Ronaigh Douglas down the right and cut the ball back to the edge of the area. Abby Callaghan’s low effort was then directed into the bottom corner by Pullar at the back post for a deserved equaliser.

This helped spur Spartans back into life, and when Alana Marshall played Galbraith through down the left, the striker advanced into the penalty area and slid past McGregor to restore her side’s lead after half an hour.

Only some last ditch defending kept Motherwell in the game at this point, as McGregor did well to deny Galbraith a carbon-copy second minutes later, while a wonderful Tegan Reynolds cross-field pass led to Kat Smart being denied by a tremendous goal line block from Lauren Gallon.

Motherwell nearly stole a second before half time on the counter attack as Gallon won the ball in midfield before playing Pullar in, but her shot flew inches wide from just inside the penalty area.

Chances dried up in the second half, with Motherwell having most of the ball but only really threatening from Claire Adams deliveries from set-pieces which Spartans struggled to fully clear on a number of occasions.

It was against the run of play, therefore, when Spartans extended their lead to 3-1 not long after the hour mark.

Marshall played a ball over the top for substitute McAlonie to chase, and she did well to get on the end of it and lob the onrushing McGregor first time from the corner of the penalty area.

Player of the match

Sarah Clelland took her goal nicely and made several driving runs forward for Spartans throughout the match, but Alana Marshall was at the heart of every threat going forward for the hosts.

There were multiple players from both teams who looked lively and threatened at points but Marshall had the composure to find the perfect final pass on multiple occasions and make the difference for her side.