Jim Chapman: ‘we can be proud of the women’s programme’s evolution’

Jim Chapman believes that the club can be proud of how the women’s programme has evolved this season, but adds that work has already begun on strengthening his first-team squad for the 2023/24 campaign.

Kilmarnock secured a third-place finish in SWPL 2 following a 1-1 draw against St Johnstone at Rugby Park on Sunday 21st May 2023.

Speaking at full-time, Chapman said: “With the club’s investment and integration of the academy, we have a lot to be proud of, but ultimately, we don’t want to rest on our laurels.

“We’ve made progress from where we were last year: there’s more points on the board and we ran it close until the last game of the season. I’ve learned a lot in my first year and I’ve got a better idea of the landscape of women’s football at this level. I know the areas that we need to grow.

“I’ve never entered a competition to be second, let alone third, so next year we’re hoping that we will be pushing for promotion.”

You can listen to the full interview – HERE.

60-second summary

Kilmarnock started the final day of the campaign in third place; a mere point behind play-off spot holders Gartcairn who hosted the University of Stirling. Four teams were in the running for the all-important second place, with opponents St Johnstone also contenders.

Despite the magnitude of the match, Killie displayed no sign of nerves and started brightly at Rugby Park. Lauryn Reside quickly showed intent by swinging a couple of early corners into the area. Monica Harty was first to try her luck at goal, but saw a powerful strike halted by a Saints defence which stood strong as the scoreboard clock ticked into double digits.

The home side’s early pressure paid off with just 12 minutes played. Mhairi Fyfe forced a fine double-save from the Saints keeper, before Killie’s Player of the year, Abby Robinson, slotted home the second rebound from close-range (1-0).

Killie continued to be positive in possession for the remainder of the half. Kelsy Crainie showed ambition as she thundered a shot narrowly over the bar from 25 yards out. Monica Harty then displayed neat control during an impressive individual run, which concluded with her finding the side-netting through the subsequent attempt at goal.

Deadlock at MTC Park meant that Killie held the play-off spot as half-time whistles rang across the country.

The second period would prove to be an end-to-end affair contested like a cup tie. A St Johnstone equaliser in the 56th minute coincided with Gartcairn taking the lead in Airdrie, which would ultimately end play-off dreams for both sides.

Killie’s best chance of the second period fell to Mary Jackson who broke through on goal and forced a solid full-stretch save from the keeper. Abby Robinson drew another fine save moments later via a goalbound strike 12 yards from goal.

Third place was still in Killie’s hands and Jim Chapman threw on an attacking trio of Lucie Burns, Kirsty Munro and Lisa Swanson in search of a winner which would solidify a top three finish. The aforementioned Burns was quick to catch the eye through a series of impressive solo runs down the left touchline.

A couple of half-chances fell Killie’s way in the final 10 minutes as Monica Harty and Lisa Swanson both latched onto stray balls in the box, but the hosts essentially ran out of time to find a winner. However, defeat for Boroughmuir Thistle would safeguard their third-place finish.

Result: Kilmarnock 1-1 St Johnstone

Scorers: Abby Robinson (11’), (Morgan Steedman 56’)

Kilmarnock lineup: Kerrigan, Crainie, Gray, McCulloch, Reside, Robinson, Crooks, Harty, Fyfe (Burns 74’), Cowan (Munro 74’), Jackson (Swanson 74’)

Image gallery courtesy of club photographer, Ross MacKenzie.