Swifts welcomed Hutchison Vale in the final game before the break looking to break into the top four. However after an uncharacteristic lacklustre display they found themselves chasing the game and ultimately falling short.
With a strong squad to choose from the Swifts gave starts to Cowie and Fleming with McIlravey also making her return from long-term injury with Cochran unavailable.
However, it was the visitors who started with better purpose and took the lead early when Fish broke through the middle and placed confidently past McIlravey. It was proving a difficult start for Swifts and they were dealt a further blow with Martin forced off through injury. Swifts did threaten with McDonald side-footing straight at the keeper and a McGinley free kick being saved at the second attempt.
Despite these chances and more pressure there was a lack of purpose about the Saints and they fell further behind just after the half hour mark when Hume stole into the right channel and finished with an excellent angled drive. Swifts responded almost immediately when McIntyre showed great composure to hold the ball up and feed McGinley as the edge of the box. The striker took one touch onto her left and despatched a great strike home with the aid of a deflection.
HT Swifts 1 Hutchison Vale 2
Swifts will have been disappointed in a very poor first 30mins where they were a clear second best. The final 10mins of the half offered some hope but McCrindle demanded a huge improvement in the second half.
To their credit Swifts started much brighter and showed much more purpose and with Fox on and showing up well the hopes of a fight back were increasing. They were however dealt a blow when Hutchie hit them with two goals in quick succession and both goals were of the "soft" variety from the hosts' perspective. Firstly Fish headed home a Sturrock corner with no challenge and then Fish again prodded home a cross from the right.
To their credit Swifts didn't give in and Fox got the reward for her impressive efforts when she took a McGinley pass and flicked home with great composure. Fox then saw a great strike well saved and that was to prove the last chance of a comeback.
FT Swifts 2 Hutchison Vale 4
Swifts will be disappointed to end the first half of season with a poor performance. The visitors were the better team and dominated the important parts of the game.
McCrindle was understandably disappointed. "I think we started really poorly and again it wasn't till we went 2 behind that we started to do the things we are capable of. We can't start games like we did today and give ourselves a mountain to climb.
We got a goal back and gave ourselves a chance but it wasn't to be. I'm responsible for the preparation of the team so it's something I will look at during the break.
They have been excellent in this first half of the season ie mid table and last 16 of Scottish Cup so I'm happy with where we are. We will work hard during the break and push on in the second half of the season.
Reported by Steve Grossi
Picture: Jeanfield Swifts