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Football: Women bring a new meaning to a bad Ayr day.

Byline: MORAG MATHESON reports

AYR UTD............3 KILMARNOCK.....3 (aet, Killie win 3-2 on pens, 90mins: 2-1)

I COULDN'T believe my luck when asked to cover the Scottish Cup Final.

When I discovered it was the women's cup final at Almondvale and not Scotland's showpiece at Hampden I wasn't exactly over the moon.

Football may be a man's game but I'm a firm believer some of us women could teach the blokes a few things about the beautiful game.

But cheering my team on from the terracing is as far as it goes where I'm concerned.

When the fairer sex decide they want to mess with the rules and pull on a pair of shinpads that's where I draw the line.

What about the passion, what about a bit of dig in the middle of the park and most of all, what about some needle in the heat of the moment?

You would never get that at a woman's football match - or so I thought. After six goals and more than a fair share of crunching tackles yesterday these women proved me wrong.

This was a no-holds barred, blood and guts encounter, fit for a derby between two bitter Ayrshire rivals.

While I'm not completely converted, this wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

It even went down to the wire before Kilmarnock were handed the silverware when Donna James missed from the spot after the match had gone to sudden death in penalties.

It was Killie's first final appearance and they taunted their gutted rivals by wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "There's only one team in Ayrshire".

It was rough justice on striker Julie Fleeting, who had netted a hat-trick to keep Ayr at the races.

The match was held on the National Day for girls and women's football.

Winning boss Jim Chapman was delighted with the effort his players put in and said: "I am really pleased for the girls more than anything.

"I couldn't believe we were 2-0 up so early in the game but you always know with a player like Julie Fleeting in the opposition Ayr always had a chance to come back into the match.

"We lost the semi-final of the League Cup on penalties earlier this season so maybe this was our chance for Lady Luck to shine on us.

"I am only here to give some guidance and coaching and the day is really all about the players. They deserve every minute of their celebrations."

Killie opened their account after 17 minutes when Angela Hynd fired in after keeper Gemma Fay fumbled a cross.

They doubled their advantage just before the half-hour mark when the keeper flapped at a Darlene Campbell effort and the striker pounced on the rebound to slot home.

A minute later Fleeting scored from the rebound after Donna Cheyne had blocked her initial effort.

Fleeting was on the scoresheet again five minutes after the break when she beat Tracey Burns and rattled the ball home.

Julie completed her hat-trick with a tap in and suddenly Killie had it all to do.

But they forced extra time when Campbell fired home from the spot after referee Hugh Dallas spotted a foul and when the match went to penalties Killie ran out winners.

Gutted Ayr boss Hugh Flynn said: "At the end of the day the best team do not always win. We were the best team and the girls are all gutted.

"I have told them to keep their heads up. We destroyed Kilmarnock 4-1 and 5-1 earlier this season in the league but unfortunately it didn't come off for us this time.

"We didn't go into the match over-confident, we knew what to expect.

"I don't like the long ball game but that is how Killie play, that is their strength.

"We are league champions, though, and have had a good season.

"We've also got the European Club Championship to look forward to - Killie don't have that."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 13, 2001
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