(Harrison 8 & 45, Murray 22 & 40, Robertson 48)
Celtic’s hopes of a run in the SSE Scottish Cup were dashed by cup-holders Hibernian who ruthlessly took the game to the Hoops shooting into a 4-0 half-time lead. An early second-half Hibs strike ended any hopes of a Celtic revival, although a spirited last half-hour prevented further damage.
Celtic began brightly enough with Sarah Ewens and Hayley Cunningham seeing plenty of the ball on the wings. Ewens in particular looked in the mood at this stage and after six minutes set up main striker Suzanne Mulvey with an excellent opportunity around the penalty spot, but her shot at goal was straight at keeper, Fife.
Only minutes later Hibs took the lead when Harrison headed the ball home after a goalmouth scramble. This setback did nothing to help Celtic’s confidence and, although they continued to attack when the chance arose, Hibs began to take control of the match.
Although several chances fell to the Hibs attack, they were unable to add to their lead. In the 22nd minute, though, a direct free kick was awarded on the edge of Celtic’s penalty area. Hibs skipper Murray swerved the ball around the defensive wall and into goal well beyond the reach of goalkeeper Megan Cunningham.
Hibs, now full of confidence, continued to press although it took a fine save from Fife in 27 minutes to parry a shot from Cheryl McCulloch who intelligently arrived at the back post to strike at a Georgie Rafferty corner.
Two more goals were added by the Edinburgh side through Murray in 40 minutes and Harrison on the stroke of half-time.
The second half began with a real body-blow for the Hoops. After only three minutes Harrison found space on the left wing and curled in a difficult cross, cleverly read by Robertson who powered a header beyond Cunningham.
The Celtic supporters in the large crowd feared the worst at this stage, but Celtic rode the storm without further loss.
Celtic introduced five substitutes at one time with half-an-hour remaining and this made a huge difference to the Hoops’ performance. The subs all made a contribution in lifting the tempo with Kirsty Howat and Heather Richards looking particularly dangerous. The enthusiasm of the young players Rachel Connor and Nina Fitzsimmons rubbed off on the more experienced players who raised their game.
The final period was more what might have been expected from Celtic, although they were unable to score. A shot from Howat grazing the crossbar was the nearest they came and during that spell, Fife was the busier of the goalkeepers.
Celtic: Megan Cunningham (Gibson), Middleton (Connor), Clark, McCulloch, Napier, Rafferty (Fitzsimmons), Ross, Littlejohn, Ewens, Hayley Cunningham (Howat), Mulvey (Richards). Sub not used Whyte.
Report & Picture: Celtic FC