My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
The 2015 Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) Cup Final will be a repeat of the 2014 Final after both Glasgow City and Hibernian defeated Celtic and Aberdeen respectively 4-0. Although City will go into the final as favourites after winning the domestic treble over the past three seasons, Hibs showed enough to show they can cause an upset.
Both the finalists have a 100% record in all competitions this season, and they meet each other in the league next Sunday, a tie that will be far more than a dress rehearsal.
The competition, played between the twelve teams in the Scottish top flight, will conclude on the 3rd June at Ainslie Park – the home of Edinburgh side Spartans – the same venue where the two semi-finals were played.
As an event, despite the changeable Scottish weather, it is an extremely attractive one as adults only paid £5 for both games, whilst for concessions it was only £2.
These two teams had met the previous weekend, and although City had been the victors, the winning goal had come from a bizarre goalkeeper error – so Celtic came into the tie confident of causing an upset.
Glasgow City dominated the opening stages by controlling possession but often lacked the final pass or shot, with an example being Jo Love’s shot from the edge of the box that sailed wide. Celtic were willing to soak up pressure and when they pounced on City’s Rhonda Jones’ weak header, Niamh Johnston tried an optimistic 40-yard shot that failed to trouble the keeper Megan Cunningham.
Slowly City found their bearings in the swirling wind. Abbi Grant cut off the right-wing to set up Kerry Montgomery whose first-time shot went over. Then Fiona Brown won the ball before seeing her left-foot shot go agonisingly wide of the left post.
Celtic’s best chance of the first half came when Mairead Fulton’s shot curled just wide of the far post where Celtic’s Samantha McManus tried to get a touch, but went down seemingly under a challenge from Cheryl McCulloch, but the ref saw nothing wrong with it.
City really should have scored when Nicola Docherty’s cross picked out Brown completely unmarked 10 yards from goal, but her first-time effort flew over the crossbar.
But finally City converted their dominance into a goal in the 35th minute. A long City ball was knocked into the path of Hayley Lauder by a Celtic defender, and Lauder set herself up before blasting the ball into the top left corner.
City had the ball in the net two minutes later when Jones leaned backwards to head in Ross’ corner, but the assistant ruled that there was a City player in an offside position on the goal line. And then a short corner saw Ross’ cross have to be cleared off the line by Johnston.
Glasgow City started the second half strongly and came close from a neatly worked free-kick 25 yards from goal. Leanne Ross effectively passed to McCulloch in the box, but her shot was superbly saved by Celtic’s keeper Laura Hamilton, and then McCulloch fired her follow-up attempt into the side-netting.
They also had another goal disallowed when Montgomery played Brown in behind the defence, and despite her calm finish going under Hamilton’s body, the assistant ruled she was offside.
But then it was 2-0. A lovely passing move saw Ross set up Montgomery on the edge of the penalty box, and her curling shot dipped just in time to go under the crossbar.
Jo Love’s 30-yard free-kick was then only kept out by a magnificent diving save from Hamilton as City turned the screw. Lauder’s cross picked out Grant who shot over from close range under pressure.
The introduction of Erin Cuthbert provided the spark to make it 3-0. A quickly taken free-kick saw Cuthbert played into the box who showed mesmerising trickery to set up Ross, whose overhit shot looked like it was going over, but the wind intervened to slow the ball up and into the back of the net.
Minutes later it was 4-0 and this goal was worth the wait. Ross set up Docherty who smashed the ball with the inside of her left foot and watched the ball swerve into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance.
Even though City kept up the pressure, they could not get their fifth as they booked their place in the final.
Glasgow City: (4-1-2-2-1) Megan Cunningham, Emma Black (Georgie Rafferty 84), Rhonda Jones, Cheryl McCulloch, Nicola Docherty, Jo Love (Lauren McMurchie 78), Leanne Ross (c) (Susan Fairlie 88), Kerry Montgomery, Abbi Grant, Hayley Lauder (Erin Cuthbert 74), Fiona Brown.
Subs not Used: Lee Alexander (GK).
Goals: Lauder 35, Montgomery 62, Ross 75, Docherty 77.
Celtic: (4-2-3-1) Laura Hamilton, Ellis Dalgliesh (Donnelly 77), Emily McKerlie, Chloe Craig (c), Kylla Sjoman, Kirstin McGuire, Kelly Clark, Samantha McManus, Mairead Fulton, Cara McBrearty (Colette Cavanagh 75), Niamh Johnston (Joanne Paton 67).
Sub not Used: Alex Middleton.
Referee: Iain Snedden Assistant Referees: Emma Hingant, Cameron Conner.
Note: SWPL rules state teams can use up to five substitutes
Hibs controlled the possession but were frustrated by an organised and disciplined Aberdeen side in the opening exchanges. They came close in the 9th minute when top scorer Abi Harrison turned her marker, but her shot was saved brilliantly by Aberdeen’s keeper Becky Flaherty.
Later Lisa Robertson’s cross picked out Harrison who flicked the ball over the defender but then volleyed over.
Aberdeen showed they could cause a threat when the ball fell kindly to Nikki Smith, but her 25-yard shot flew only just over the bar.
But it was Hibs who were on top and came close when Robertson’s long ball played Lizzie Arnot through on goal, but strong pressure from Loren Campbell meant her shot was saved by the keeper.
Aberdeen was starting to use their odd forays into the Hibs half to create chances with Cassie Cowper’s long range effort just going wide before Susan Murray headed narrowly wide from a corner. Then Susan Murray tried to be clever from a 25-yard free-kick, but her chipped effort was caught by Hibs keeper Jenna Fife at the top right corner.
With the first half coming to a close, Hibs went looking for a goal with Emma Brownlie coming close from a free-kick but Flaherty met the superb effort with an equally superb save.
And in the first half stoppage time, they did take the lead thanks in part to generosity from Aberdeen. A corner was taken short to Kirsty Smith, whose cross to the far post was headed back into the danger area by Aberdeen’s Susan Murray where Lucy Graham took advantage to head home.
It was Hibs who started the second half on top, with long range efforts from Graham and Arnot troubling the keeper.
And as the half got older, Hibs grew in confidence. Harrison’s reverse pass played Arnot into the box and she picked out Graham whose effort was deflected over.
Then they doubled their lead. Harrison won possession and her effort forced Flaherty into a good save low down to her right, but once again Graham was there to fire home the rebound.
It took just five minutes for Hibs to make it 3-0 when a corner landed in the Aberdeen box, and the referee decided Shannon McGregor’s challenge on Arnot was worthy of a penalty. Arnot herself placed the ball on the spot and sent the keeper the wrong way.
Aberdeen had a chance when Chloe Fitzpatrick’s free-kick picked out Rachael Small, but her volley went wide of the near post.
But Hibs kept on coming and made in 4-0. Lizzie Arnot’s corner picked out Joelle Murray whose header produced a magnificent reaction save from Flaherty, but the Hibs player reacted to score despite Loren Campbell’s best efforts to clear the ball off the line.
Arnot, Graham and Joelle Murray had good chances in the final minutes, but it was Aberdeen who had the final chance when Rebecca Dempster’s shot smashed off the crossbar.
Hibernian: (4-1-4-1) Jenna Fife, Emma Brownlie (Claire Williamson 79), Joelle Murray, Siobhan Hunter, Kirsty Smith, Lisa Robertson, Abi Harrison, Chloe Arthur (Chelsea Cornet 79), Lucy Graham, Lizzie Arnot, Heather Richards.
Goals: Graham 45+1, 68; Arnot pen 74, Joelle Murray 80.
Aberdeen: (4-2-3-1) Becky Flaherty, Loren Campbell, Melissa Aitkenhead, Susan Murray, Cassie Cowper (Alana Bruce 79), Chloe Fitzpatrick, Cheryl Anderson (Donna Paterson 63), Rachel McLauchlan (Shannon McGregor 58), Rachael Small, Hannah Stewart (Kelly Forrest 79), Nikki Smith.
Referee: George Calder. Assistant Referees: Gary McGregor and Peter Peace.