Hibernian continued their winning run to the 2018 season with a hard-fought victory over Rangers in Govan.
After going three games without scoring in the first half, Hibernian went into break with a 1-0 lead after Lia Tweedie’s opener. Rangers started the second half well and drew level through Jade Gallon’s fine finish before Katey Turner fired Hibs 2-1 ahead, securing the three points.
After returning from the international break, both teams got off to a sluggish start at New Tinto Park with the only real opportunity coming via Chelsea Cornet’s low drive across the face of goal which neither Tweedie nor Turner could connect with.
However, on 13 minutes Hibernian enjoyed a bit of good fortune to open the scoring. Rachel McLauchlan drove to the byline and attempted to deliver a ball into the box. Despite taking a massive deflection off a Rangers defender’s leg, the ball fell right onto the head of Tweedie who only had to direct the ball into the back of the net to give Hibernian a 1-0 lead.
The Edinburgh side’s tails were now up as they looked to increase the margin. Lucy Graham picked the ball up in midfield on the half-turn, brushed off a Rangers challenge and took a shot from 25-yards out which flashed just wide of the post.
It took Hibs a while to create another clear chance and it came through the home side’s error as a miskick allowed Jamie-Lee Napier’s cut back from the right wing find the feet of Graham on the penalty spot but the midfielder’s effort was off-target just after 30 minutes had been played.
Kevin Milne would have been pleased going into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead but was probably looking for more from his side.
As the two teams came out for the second half, it was Rangers who started well. A Hibernian mistake allowed Rangers’ Gallon time and space at the edge of the box before firing high into the top corner on 47 minutes. Rangers’ goal was the first Hibernian have conceded in the 2018 campaign.
Hibernian responded well to the set-back with McLauchlan finding Turner’s run in-behind the Rangers defence with a lovely weighted ball only four minutes later. It seemed as if the striker thought she had more time than she actually did as Rangers’ right-back made a recovering run and dispossessing Turner.
The team in green ‘n’ white almost, and probably should have, regained their lead through an unlikely source in defender Ellis Notley in the 59th minute. Hibernian’s No. 16, who has impressed so far this season, found herself with a free header six-yards out from goal, getting on the end of an Emma Brownlie corner, but the defender couldn’t keep the effort down as it flew over the crossbar.
Milne made his first and only substitution on the hour mark with Abi Harrison returning from injury to replace goal-scorer Lia Tweedie.
The hunt for a second Hibs goal was now well and truly on with Robertson stinging the palms of Ramsay in the Rangers goal from the edge of the box on 63 minutes.
On 70 minutes, Hibernian were rewarded with their goal. Kirsty Smith cut inside from the left wing and fired an effort towards goal, but it crashed off the crossbar. Turner managed to control the rebound and fire low into the back of the net to restore the lead and score her fifth goal of the season.
It seemed as if Graham was desperate for a goal in the match as she came close on two occasions around the 80th minute. First, the midfielder had an effort blocked on the line after connecting with Brownlie’s corner. Then, after a smart phase of Hibs play, Robertson found Graham on the edge of the box, but she couldn’t keep her shot on-target.
It looked as if New Tinto Park was about to experience another twist as Rangers had the ball in the back of the Hibs net four minutes from time, but it was ruled out for offside and the Hibees could let out a sigh of relief as they made it four-wins-from-four in 2018.
Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Robertson, Smith, McLauchlan, Graham, Notley, Turner, Cornet, Brownlie, Tweedie (Harrison 60’). Substitutes not used: Reid, Michie, Leishman, Gallacher, Morrison.
Report & Picture: Hibernian Media