Disappointment as Hoops lose out against Hibernian
Report / Image: Celtic FC
Celtic made the ideal start to their clash with Hibernian, with a Natalie Ross goal in seven minutes. However, they were unable to capitalise on this early lead, and despite of a spirited, battling performance went down 2-1 to Hibernian.
After last weekend’s comfortable 4-0 win against Forfar Farmington, manager Eddie Wolecki Black made only one change to the line-up, with Cheryl McCulloch introduced to partner Chloe Craig at centre-back.
With only seven minutes played, Sarah Ewens chased a long pass towards the Hibs goal-line, although it looked to be running out of play. With a burst of speed, the striker kept the ball in play and with the same touch steered it past the chasing Hibs defender. A pinpoint pass across goal found Natalie Ross, who slotted home with her left foot from eight yards.
The first 30 minutes was a feisty affair and Celtic were finding it difficult to get a foothold in the game, far less increase their lead. Hibs were playing at pace, especially down the wings and they forced a save from Megan Cunningham and gained two corners before midfielder Kirsty McLaughlin burst through for the Hoops in 27 minutes, but her shot was comfortably saved by Jemma Fife.
The game was regularly punctuated with fouls and it was from a Cavanagh free-kick from the left in 37 minutes that Hibs scored the equaliser. Her cross was floated towards the near post and headed across for Reilly to score.
Hibs continued to have the greater share of the ball and had another dangerous free kick three minutes later which drifted wide of Cunningham’s right-hand post.
A minute from half-time, yet another free kick was awarded just outside the Celtic penalty area, which Reilly fired high into the net, giving the home side the lead.
It was immediately clear from the restart that Celtic were determined to recover as quickly as possible, playing as they were with increased determination and tempo.
Hibs, though, kept their composure, winning an early corner and having a fierce shot on target, which Cunningham saved.
Josi Giard was working hard for Celtic and appeared to have been brought down as she prepared to shoot, but no foul was awarded.
A powerful shot from Hibs in 74 minutes did appear net-bound until it was tipped over the bar with Cunningham at full stretch.
For their part, Celtic redoubled their efforts and as the game drew towards its conclusion there were several scrambles in and around the Hibs penalty area, but an equaliser proved elusive, and the game ended without further goals.
CELTIC: Cunningham, Black, Craig, McCulloch, Keenan, Giard, Clark, McLaughlin (Donaldson), Ross, Smart (McGovern), Ewens.
Subs not used: Crosbie, O’Neill, Hay, Cairney.
Kirsten Reilly’s brace secured a 2-1 victory for Hibernian against Celtic at Ainslie Park on Sunday afternoon, writes Robbie Castle.
Report: Hibernian FC / Image: Craig Doyle
It was the visitors who took the lead when Natalie Ross scored in the 7th minute, but Reilly’s double before the break handed Hibernian the advantage.
Grant Scott’s side dominated the second half and saw out the game to claim their first win of the 2019 SBS SWPL season.
The opening proceedings were in the home side’s favour, with much of the play taking place in the opposition’s half. The third minute saw Hibs come close, as Kirsten Reilly got on to the end of a cross from a free-kick but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
Celtic looked dangerous on the counter-attack however, and they got themselves in front as an incisive break saw the ball squared to Ross who side-footed the visitors in front with seven minutes on the clock.
Scott’s side looked to bounce back quickly and pinned Celtic back in their own half, but struggled to find that killer final ball into the box.
Hibernian surged forward with Jamie-Lee Napier working the ball in to the box in the 12th minute, getting the ball to Morrison who managed to round the keeper, but last ditch-defending from Keeva Keenan prevented her from getting a shot away.
Very much in the ascendency Hibernian threatened again through some excellent passing play, releasing Napier and allowing her to shoot from the edge of the box but it drifted over the bar.
Celtic remained a threat on the counter, despite the home side’s dominance, and nearly doubled their lead after Ewens squared the ball for McLaughlin, forcing Jenna Fife into an excellent save.
38 minutes into the game and the Celtic defence finally caved under the immense and constant pressure of the hosts.
Colette Cavanagh’s free-kick was swung in and Reilly headed home her first of the afternoon, restoring parity in the match.
The goal, coupled with the pressure from the home side, clearly rattled Celtic as a lot of aggressive tackles were being put in forcing a succession of free-kicks for Hibernian. Hunter came close with one from 25 yards out going just wide of the post.
On the stroke of half-time, a push on Jamie Lee Napier saw the home side given a free-kick on the edge of the box. From this, Hibernian finally took the lead.
From 20 yards out Reilly curled in an absolutely stunning strike, leaving Megan Cunningham with no chance as the ball found the top corner of the net.
In first half injury-time, the Hibees came painfully close to getting a third, as Chelsea Cornet fired a powerful header at goal forcing Cunningham into a great save.
The second half kicked off with the home side continuing from where they left off, forcing considerable pressure on the Celtic backline.
The game descended into a gritty affair as the match progressed, with a lot of hard tackles being put in by both sides.
Chances were at a premium with the bulk of shots registered in the second half coming from outside the box.
Napier came close in the 73rd minute after being played in through an incisive through ball. Her curling effort forced the Cunningham into another great save, pushing the ball out for a corner.
After three minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle was blown, giving Hibernian all three points, sending them to the top of the SWPL table.
The attentions of the side now shift to the First Round of the SWPL Cup with Hibernian drawn against Hearts for the second season running. The match takes place at Ainslie Park on Sunday 24 February and kicks off at 1pm with entry £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.
Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Eddie (Hunter, 11, Leishman, 77), Michie, Cavanagh, Gallagher, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Morrison, Reilly. Unused substitutes: Williamson, Tweedie, Davidson, Small.
Celtic: Cunningham, Black, Keenan, McCulloch, Craig, Ross, McLaughlin (Donaldson, (79), Clark, Smart (McGovern, 72), McEwen, Giard. Unused substitutes: Hay, O’Neill, Cairney, Crosbie.