Hibernian and Glasgow City shared the points after a dramatic encounter at Ainslie Park on Sunday afternoon….
Report: Hibernian Media and Picture: Tommy Hughes
Jamie-Lee Napier opened the scoring for Hibernian with a close range volley before Leanne Ross converted from the penalty spot a few minutes later. It looked as if City had snatched victory away from Hibs through Donna Paterson on 88 minutes but Abi Harrison fired Hibs level in stoppage time with an exquisite finish from a tight angle.
Hibernian got off to a strong start with the first real chance of the game falling their way within 4 minutes. After determined play from Napier and Kirsty Smith down the left hand side, Smith found the feet of Lucy Graham 25-yards from goal. The midfielder lined up a shot which troubled Lee Alexander in goal but the Scotland stopper was able to see it over the bar. Cailin Michie also managed to get a shot on target in the early exchanges after cutting in from the right hand side but her left footed shot was collected by the ‘keeper.
Hibernian opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Emma Brownlie whipped in a wide free kick from the right which found the unmarked Napier who dispatched a clinical volley into the back of the net and sent the Hibernian players and fans ecstatic.
Glasgow City immediately looked for a response and it was only a Rachel McLauchlan block which prevented Hayley Lauder from getting a close range shot on target. A City header also had the majority of Hibs fans around the park taking a sharp intake of breath after it hit the side netting on 17 minutes.
Unfortunately, City’s increased pressure paid off as Hibs failed to clear a cross and a clumsy challenge from Smith led to a penalty being awarded 21 minutes into the game. Ross made no mistake from the spot as she hit the ball hard and true down the middle of Jenna Fife’s goal to bring the visitors level.
City were now on the ascendancy for the remainder of the first half. Nicole Docherty looked to almost catch Fife out with a cross which came very close to sneaking in but it landed on the roof of the net shortly before Lauder gained from a mishap in the Hibs defence to pick up possession and skelp a long range effort off the junction on 34 minutes.
The first half came to an end with City in control but with both sides level, something Hibernian’s Coach Grant Scott would have been pleased with.
Hibs came out with purpose in the second half, looking to take the lead. Six minutes in, a lovely turn from McLauchlan, who was an ever present threat down the right hand side, set up a cross which found Harrison at the back post but the striker couldn’t quite get her effort on target as it was bundled wide by Jo Love.
Hibs went close to scoring from the resulting corner after Brownlie’s cross was deflected towards goal by Leanne Crichton but Abbi Grant was there to clear the City lines.
It was then Fife’s turn to save her side 20 minutes into the first half as Grant got on the end of Ross’ corner, catching the ball sweetly but Fife reacted well to stick out her leg and prevent City from taking the lead.
Ainslie Park was treated with the return to play of Lizzie Arnot, who has been battling a long term injury, on the 67th minute. The crowd was not shy to show its excitement with cheers and applause ringing from the stand.
A knock to Graham meant that Shannon McGregor was brought on on 70 minutes and the tricky midfielder almost made an instant impact. Harrison’s driving run to the byline gave her the chance to cut back to McGregor but Hibs’ No. 10 didn’t get the right connection and her effort went wide.
The game seemed to be destined for a draw with neither side able to break down the other until the referee awarded a controversial corner to City on the 88th minute. Ross’ cross to the near post wasn’t gathered by Fife, allowing Donna Paterson to smash the ball into an empty net and put the Scottish champions ahead.
However, Hibernian were not content with accepting a harsh result and went on the hunt for a reply. And they certainly found it.
Deep into stoppage time, McLauchlan flicked on a Michie throw-in to Harrison. The striker then battled her way to the byline and proceeded to fire into the back of the net from what seemed like an impossible angle. Ainslie Park erupted with Hibees celebrating a well deserved equaliser.
Over 90 minutes there was nothing to separate Scotland’s top two sides, who are both still inseparable in the SWPL table.
Hibernian: Fife, Michie, Murray (Notley 63’), Brownlie, Smith, Robertson, Graham (McGregor 70’), Cornet (Reilly 88’), Napier (Arnot 67’), McLauchlan, Harrison.
Substitutes not used: Reid, Gallacher, Turner.