Match Report by Chris Marshall and photo via Hibs Ladies / Craig Doyle on Twitter.
Hibernian produced a classy display in difficult conditions to defeat SWPL 1 rivals Stirling University in front of a 300 plus crowd at a rainswept Penicuik Park in Midlothian.
In what were unfamiliar surroundings for both sides a double from the on form Colette Cavanagh, headers from Siobhan Hunter and Ellis Notley and a Lindsay Blues own goal saw Grant Scott’s side complete a 5-0 victory that booked their place in the Last 16 of the Scottish Cup and a Sunday trip to Oriam to take on Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian.
Both sides rung the changes following their league encounter last weekend, where the Hibees ran out 4-0 winners, and the game would follow a similar pattern as their Ochilview clash with Stirling competing well in the opening stages before succumbing to the torrent of pressure.
That said it would be Uni’s Rachel Connor that would have the first shot on goal inside the first minute but that would prove to be just a drop in the ocean as her side would struggle to contain wave after wave of Hibernian attacks.
After chances for Shannon Leishman, Cavanagh and Notley were well dealt with Claire Whittaker in goal the dam would finally burst with 24 minutes on the clock.
A fluid six player passing move started with Joelle Murray in her own half before Leishman played in the returning Rachel Boyle on the right hand side. Her dangerous cross ball found it’s way to the back post where the on-rushing Cavanagh was there to tap in from close range.
It would be the first of four assists for Boyle and she would play a part in the second just before half time as the Hibernian chances kept on coming. The midfielder, who had been given the previous weekend off, delivered a corner into the six yard box where Lindsay Blues would be the unfortunate Stirling University player to turn the ball into her own net.
Whittaker continued to put up resistance as the second half began as she denied Jamie-Lee Napier for the second time with the striker coming forwardafter a well placed Cavanagh through ball. More goals were imminent though as the Edinburgh side continued to stream forward and, on the 53rd minute, another Boyle corner reached the head of defender Notley who nodded home.
A fourth was added eight minutes later when Notley’s defensive colleague Siobhan Hunter got in on the act with an emphatic header from a Boyle cross ball once again.
The impressive Cavanagh rounded out the scoring in the 68th minute as she cut inside the Stirling defence before sending a well placed long range effort past Whittaker.
It continues a good run of form for Grant Scott and his side following their league defeat to Glasgow City and it will be a performance that will have also pleased the strong crowd, as much for its style as the result itself. For Stirling University, focus returns to SWPL 1 survival as they attempt to turn the tide in their relegation fight.
Hibernian: Fife, Hunter, Napier, Cavanagh, Leishman, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Boyle, Morrison, Reilly. Subs: Muir, Michie, McGregor, Davidson, Gallacher, Higgins, Currie.
Stirling University: Whitaker, Connor, Bonner, Murphy, Fulton, Blues, Welch, Simpson, Falconer, Rule, Petersen, Subs: Mason, Lyons, Menzies, Guthrie, Kerr, Gullan, Sjogerud.
Hibernian Head Coach Grant Scott: “I think it’s key for us to be able to use the squad, we changed our system tonight as well and it just shows the strength and depth that we’ve got so I’m really pleased with the girls just now.”
“I’ve not seen Hearts as much as I’d like if I’m honest but we’re certainly aware about most of their players and so we’ll have a wee chat about individuals and where their threats will come from over the next couple of days. They’re flying and ambitious so it will be a tough game.”
On the game being hosted at Penicuik Park: “I tell you what we couldn’t have asked for a better reception here, good crowd, great facilities, the pitch was great for the players and we are very grateful for what they have put on tonight.”