Match report by Mark Gordon. Photo by Lorraine Hill.
Hibernian are through to their fourth consecutive SSE Scottish Women’s Cup final after a hard fought 2-1 victory over league rivals Glasgow City at Forthbank.
The morning chill was still in the air as the noon kick-off got under way and it was Hibernian who looked to have warmed up better pre-match. The Edinburgh side took control of the game from the opening whistle as their opponents seemed to struggle to get going.
Rachel McLauchlan looked lively in the final third and she tried to link-up with Abi Harrison as Hibs looked to take advantage of their good start. It wasn’t long before the Hibee’s made their strong start count and again, Harrison was involved.
The Hibs number 7, McLauchlan, sent in a fantastic curling cross from the right after 14-minutes, which was met in the centre of the penalty box by Kirstin Reilly. She met the cross perfectly and although Lee Alexander in the Glasgow City goal got something on the effort, it wasn’t enough to prevent it finding the corner of the net.
The early set-back seemed to shock City into action as they finally warmed up to the game. Some bright work from Abbi Grant had taken City up the field as they went in search of their first sight at Jenna Fife in the Hibernian goal.
It wasn’t until the 29th minute that City had their first real effort though. Good work from Grant and Kirsty Howat on the Glasgow left forced a corner-kick. The resulting corner eventually found its way to Howat who saw her shot-on-the-turn well saved by Fife.
Glasgow were now beginning to impose themselves as they looked to get themselves back on level terms. Both Hayley Lauder and Abbi Grant had shots blocked whilst Harrison provided Hibs with a constant threat on the counter-attack.
Despite City dictating the play towards the end of the first-half, Hibernian could have extended their lead. A break-away move for Hibs involving McLauchlan, Chelsea Cornet and Harrison culminated in the latter firing a shot straight at Alexander.
Scott Booth made a change to his Glasgow City line-up at half-time as he introduced Leanne Crichton to the champions’ midfield. The changed seemed to work as City started the second half on the front foot, with Crichton seeing a lot of the ball.
The opening minutes of the second period set the tone for the half as City dominated possession as they hunted an equaliser. Just minutes after the restart, City came within inches parity. Lidija Kulis found herself alone at the back post as she chased down a deep cross. As Fife desperately tried to narrow the angle, Kulis crashed a shot off the Hibs keeper’s near post.
For all their possession, City were struggling to get in behind the Hibs defensive line which was being expertly marshalled by captain Joelle Murray. Lauder and Crichton began to dominate in the middle of the park as Hibernian were forced onto the back foot.
A rare counter-attack by Hibs on the hour-mark saw McLauchlan just fail to find Harrison with an early ball over the top of the high Glasgow City defensive line. Perhaps spurred by that glimpse of an opportunity on the break, Hibs manager Grant Scott introduced the pace of Jamie-Lee Napier to the game.
The substitution seemed to have an impact as Napier and Harrison began to threaten as Hibs tried to find them with passes out of their defence. First Harrison was found with a long Murray clearance but the Hibs striker couldn’t capitalise after taking the ball around the keeper.
Napier was then sent clear on the left but her touch was just too heavy as she approached the Glasgow penalty box. The breakaway attacks were infrequent though as City continued to dominate but frustratingly for them, they couldn’t turn their possession in to clear-cut chances.
Time and again, as City looked to break into the Hibs penalty box, they were thwarted by Murray. The Hibs captain was in full ‘they-shall-not-pass’ mode as she repeatedly frustrated the Glasgow side throughout the second half.
It looked like Hibs were going to be hanging on behind Murray’s defensive dominance as the game entered it’s final ten minutes but another attack on the break led to Glasgow’s downfall. Harrison picked up a clearance just inside her own half and after a menacing run towards the City penalty area, she won her side a corner.
The corner looked like giving the Hibs rear-guard some respite but it turned out to win them the match. Emma Brownlie’s high swinging corner seemed to have evaded the players massed around the goalmouth as it dropped beyond the back post. Murray was the only one who seemed to have read the flight of the ball though as she lashed a first-time shot low into the back of Alexander’s net.
The drama wasn’t over though as Glasgow City finally found their way onto the scoresheet. Just three minutes remained on the clock as the unfortunate Siobhan Hunter saw her attempted clearance find the bottom corner of her own net.
Time was against the champions though and they couldn’t find a way through the Hibernian defence to force the game into extra-time. It will be the first time since 2010 that Glasgow City will not contest the cup final as Hibernian look to win it for the third year-in-a-row as they progress to face Motherwell in the final.
Hibernian: Fife, Hunter, Robertson, McLauchlan, Michie, Gallacher (Napier, 65), Murray, Cornet (McGregor 73), Harrison, Brownlie, Reilly
Glasgow City: Alexander, Foley, Ross, Docherty, Love, Kerr (Stewart 83), Lauder, Kulis, Grant, Ivanusa (Crichton 45), Howat (Girasoli 75)