GREENOCK Wanderers Ladies completed their British Telecom sponsored Scottish Women’s National League First Division campaign in disappointing fashion when they were defeated by Kirkcaldy at Fort Matilda on Sunday.

The local girls brought the curtain down on what had in general been a successful early part of the season but a string of late defeats effectively ended their promotion and title hopes leaving them in a mid-table position.

Sunday’s visitors Kirkcaldy had been ruthlessly put to the sword in the earlier fixture between the sides this season but the Fifers enjoyed some payback by claiming the points with a tenacious display that justified their victory.

From Greenock’s perspective more casualties were added to the injury list with Tina Hemphill having to withdraw with an ankle injury and Lynsey O’Neil becoming the second player in as many weeks to sustain a fractured collar bone.

All at the club wish both girls a speedy recovery but O’Neill, like playing colleague Mel Hutchison, will now sit out the rest of the season.

The story of the match was one of unforced errors costing Greenock dear and these sloppy mistakes will have to be eradicated if Wanderers are to progress in the Plate semi-final in a fortnights time.

Kirkcaldy were quickest out of the blocks and they swiftly got into their stride with an aggressive pick and go game that kept the locals on the back foot.

On five minutes several quick rucks pinned Wanderers back and with the line beckoning a further thrust was sufficient to open the scoring.

Wanderers began to edge into the match and on 15 minutes Tina Hemphill and Hannah Mutton contrived to create an opening for Sophie Hicks.

Hicks relished the opportunity and blasted through the gap to breeze in close to the posts. Hemphill’s conversion effort struck the upright but the Greenock girls had weathered the early storm and were now back on terms at 5-5.

Hemphill suffered her ankle injury shortly thereafter and on the half hour mark the visitors’ were reduced to fourteen players when one of their number was sin-binned for repeated infringements.

Wanderers strung some fine passages of play together but too many dropped balls and a lack of accuracy meant that they were unable to benefit from their numerical advantage and Kirkcaldy made it to the interval with their line intact.

With a full complement restored in the second half the visitors seized the initiative once more.

On 48 minutes loose ball in the Greenock in-goal area was pounced on by a Kirkcaldy forward to break the deadlock and give the Fifers a 12-5 lead after the conversion points were added.

Two minutes later Kirkcaldy won a scrum close to the Wanderers line and from a series of mini rucks the visitors again broke through to claim the try and extend the advantage to 17-5.

The locals showed their competitive spirit by striving hard to get back on terms and on 70 minutes there tenacity was rewarded.

Anne Thomson made the break and she fed strike runner Caitlyn Haldane. Haldane made ground but when tackled quickly recycled possession to keep the move flowing. Two more phases were won crisply and on the third occasion Haldane was on hand again and showed her power by outstripping the opposing cover defence to dot down.

Now adrift by only seven points’ Wanderers were within striking distance but all credit to Kirkcaldy who remained resolute in defence and in the last minute made a break through the central midfield channel to complete the scoring.

It was a disappointing end to the league campaign for the Greenock girls but they can take much comfort and pride from the progress they have made this season and in particular some of the excellent performances posted particularly prior to the festive break.

With the championship race now behind them the locals can focus on their Plate semi-final tie on April 8 when they host Grangemouth at Fort Matilda.