Hibernian Ladies opened their 2016 pre-season campaign with a satisfying 4-1 victory over Aberdeen at Links Park, Montrose on Sunday afternoon.
There was an unfamiliar look to the Hibernian side due to injury and international commitments, however the girls in green proved too strong for their opponents from the Granite City.
New signing Rachel McLauchlan, up against her former side, impressed throughout on her debut and had the game’s first shot on goal – a rising effort that was just over the crossbar in the 4th minute.
Hibernian didn’t have long to wait before they had their first goal of 2016 as defender Emma Brownlie converted following a corner kick soon after.
Striker Caroline Heron missed all of last season through injury and she appears determined to make up for lost time.
The former Forfar Farmington attacker twice went close with efforts in quick succession; the first a shot from the edge of the box that was saved by the goalkeeper and the second an effort that was just over the crossbar.
The Easter Road side, who shuffled their pack at the interval, increased their lead on 57 minutes when Lia Tweedie drove through the centre before striking a shot in off the post.
Within a minute it was 3-0 to Hibernian when Lizzie Arnot showed great feet to get away from a Dons defender before netting, although the Aberdeen goalkeeper very nearly kept it out.
Aberdeen won many plaudits last term for their performances and results and they once again proved they could be the side to watch this year when they reduced arrears on 66 minutes with a header at the back post.
Their goalkeeper Becky Flaherty then twice denied Lia Tweedie after she was set-up by McLauchlan before Heron completed the scoring in the final minute with an audacious 30-yard lob.
The highlights of the match are now available to watch on Hibs TV Freeview – as they will be throughout the new season. We’ll have more coverage of Hibernian Ladies than ever across the 2016/17 season with the team looking to compete on all fronts – including Champions League football.
Manager Chris Roberts was delighted with his side’s first run out of the pre-season and he commented: “It was a great start to our close season campaign.
“We chose to play Aberdeen, as we did at this stage last season, because they play with a great tempo and press aggressively all over the pitch, making it a worthwhile test.
“We had to manage some of the players’ game time carefully as we had Joelle Murray, Kirsty Smith and Lizzie Arnot all featuring for Scotland against Sweden earlier in the week.
“Whilst pre-season is not about results, it was still a pleasing performance and a great workout for us.
“Rachel was the only one of our new signings to make her debut and she put in a solid performance against her old team.
“The other girls – Abbi Grant, Sarah Ewens and Lucy Graham will likely feature in this weekend’s match against Hearts.”
Hibernian Ladies: Fife, Williamson, Hunter, Robertson, Arnot (Heron 60′), Michie (Cornet 46′), Heron (Tweedie 46′), McLauchlan, Harrison, Richards, Brownlie.
Unused Substitutes: Ewens, Grant, Murray.
Hibernian’s next pre-season fixture against Heart of Midlothian Ladies takes place this Saturday and is a closed-door match.
Reported by Richard Payne
Picture: Hibernian Media