As the curtain fell on the SBS SWPL 2018 season Hibernian saw out the final game of the campaign in style, with an emphatic 7-1 victory over Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Report: Robbie Castle / Image: SWPL
Hibernian maintained a title challenge right until the final match day, however after Glasgow City’s victory over Spartans, league runners-up medals were all the team could get their hands this weekend.
It has been a super season, where Hibs claimed the SWPL Cup for the third year in succession and have the small matter of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final next weekend at Firhill Stadium.
Hat-tricks from Abi Harrison and Rachel McLauchlan, along with a screamer from Amy Gallacher, ensured that the final league game of the season was a memorable one for the players and fans.
Hibernian starting line-up: Fife, Napier, Robertson, McLauchlan, Michie, McGregor, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Harrison, Brownlie. Subs: Williamson, Hunter, Tweedie, Davidson, Gallagher, Reilly.
Rangers starting line-up: Ramsay, Eddie, Donnelly, Coakley, Muir, Gemmell, O’Hara, Gallon, Napier, Hay, Boyce. Subs: Sinclair, Robertson, Inglis, Baillie, McCartney, L.Gallon.
The Main Talking Points
The match started with attacking intensity from the start. Hibernian charged forward, with Lisa Robertson firing a shot from outside the box, looping over in the second minute of the game.
Hibernian looked firmly in control throughout the opening proceedings, with domination in the midfield, as well as charging runs down the wing, wreaking havoc on the Rangers fullbacks. Despite this Ramsay remained untested in goals.
The opening goal looked certain 15 minutes in as Emma Brownlie drove down the right wing, and whipped in a cross finding McLauchlan unmarked at the back post, who nodded the ball inches wide.
The Hibees made the breakthrough two minutes later on the 17-minute mark, with McLauchlan getting on the end of a placed Cornet through ball, slotting the ball past Ramsay from a difficult angle.
Another two minutes passed, and Hibs doubled their lead. Robertson drove through the midfield, and picked out Harrison, who smashed the ball low into the corner, with the ball curling right up the net giving a showcase finish.
Hibs’ domination was clear – not long after Harrison’s goal, McLauchlan nearly added her second of the game, as she unleashed a fierce shot towards goal, narrowly missing the crossbar,
Hibernian looked rampant, with McLauchlan loving her football. Cailin Michie charged through the middle of the park, and stroked the ball through into the box finding the Hibs forward, before she fired the shot at Ramsay. A goal line scramble ensued, with a ball cleared off the line, before Rangers eventually managed to clear the ball to safety, keeping the score at 2-0.
The hosts maintained their dominance, however there was a stoppage after Shannon McGregor picked up a knock, and was forced off the park in place of Amy Gallacher. The game restarted 34 minutes in, only to be stopped for a Rangers injury, with Brogan Hay being stretchered off the park.
After the match recommenced, McLauchlan broke through again at 44 minutes, and found her second of the match to make it 3-0. The forward got herself on the end of a Harrison low cross, tapping the ball home.
Almost instantly, Harrison got her second to make it 4-0, after Jamie-Lee Napier drove down the byline, before getting the ball to Harrison, who made no mistake.
A very eventful five minutes saw Rangers given and convert a penalty to get themselves on the score sheet, following a Joelle Murray challenge. Jade Gallon stroked the ball into the bottom corner to give the visitors their final goal of the season.
The referee blew the half time whistle, with the score 4-1 Hibs.
The Hibees kicked off the second half, with the same intensity as the first, driving forward down the wings, looking absolutely menacing. Abi Harrison managed to get a shot away, looking for her hat-trick, skimming the ball just past the post.
McLauchlan did find her hat-trick, however, having drove through the Rangers defence, and slotted the ball in for Hibs goal number five.
The goals kept coming for the Hibees, and it wasn’t long before Hibs found number six. Gallacher rifled the ball into the top corner, after Harrison placed a pass to the midfielder on the edge of the box, allowing her to smash a screamer into the back of the net.
Hibernian never looked troubled throughout the very chilly second half at Ainslie Park, and found that magnificent seventh on the 90-minute mark, with Harrison completing her hat-trick, firmly cementing herself as the league’s top scorer. A superb individual effort from the striker concluding the scoring for the afternoon, before the referee blew the full-time whistle.
Thoughts from the Camp
Commenting on what was an emphatic victory, Hibs defender Ellis Notley offered her thoughts on the game:
“I thought we played well – it was a great team performance. Especially after the defeat last week, we came out, put in the performance we needed, got the three points, and scored lots of goals.”
Head Coach, Grant Scott also gave his opinion on the final league encounter of the season:
“Today was one of our best performances of the season – unfortunately seven days too late.
“The girls have shown flashes of that all season, and I can’t fault the performances of any of the players today – I am pleased that they picked up so well after the disappointment last week, they knew that there was still a wee chance of the title if things went our way elsewhere – that didn’t happen, but to produce that level of football was exceptional, so massive credit to them for that.
“It can be difficult picking yourself up after a disappointment, because our focus was to try and win the league, and having taken it so close, that was the danger coming into today. I was really impressed, and surprised with the players picking themselves up after last week so quickly – quicker than I did, so credit to them for doing that, and then training so hard during the week to get ready for today.”
Hibernian’s next and final fixture of the season comes next weekend at Firhill Stadium in Glasgow, as the Hibees take on Motherwell in the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup Final.
It has been a super season, so come and give the team the accolade they deserve, as they bid for more silverware in their final game of the season. Follow @HibsLadies on Twitter for pre-match build up, ticket info and more.