My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Glasgow City was pushed all the way by an energetic Hibernian side, as the holders won 2-1 after extra time to lift the first silverware of the Scottish Women Season. City have dominated the League Cup over the past three seasons, and this was a repeat of the 2014 Final. Expectations before the match were high as the country’s best two sides clashed, especially due to the thrilling 3-3 draw the two sides had played out in the league – and the 743 fans at Ainslie Park as well as the 800 people watching online were treated to a pulsating match.
It was Hibs who had the better of the first half, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 27th minute – and the goal was stunning. Hibs were launching a counter-attack, but instead of passing Heather Richards fired a driving shot from the half-way line that flew over City’s keeper Lee Alexander and into the net. It will undoubtedly be compared to Charlie Adam’s goal against Chelsea this season.
City dominated the second half, but it looked like they were going to be denied an equaliser until Kerry Montgomery headed in from a Leanne Ross free-kick. The second half also saw Hibs player Abi Harrison have a horrific injury in an accidental collision, and it appeared from the stand that she suffered a concussion. Neither side could find a winner in normal time, so the game went into extra-time.
It took only three minutes for City to find the winner when the tireless Susan Fairlie curled an effort into the far post, despite the Hibs keeper Jenna Fife getting a hand to it.
Hibs would have known it was important to start the final on the front foot and they used the creativity and speed of their front three of Lizzie Arnot, Heather Richards and Abi Harrison to torment the City defence. They created the game’s first chance when Lisa Robertson chipped a ball into the box, and with Alexander rushing quickly off her line, Lucy Graham flicked the ball over her and watched as the ball bounced wide of the post.
Hibs’ captain Joelle Murray fired a free-kick towards the near post, but in the scramble neither Richards or Arnot could find the back of the net.
And then Hibs came as close as possible to scoring when Richards’ corner found Harrison whose header smashed off the crossbar, bounced down onto the goal-line where Alexander caught the ball. Despite the Edinburgh side’s appeals, the officials determined the ball had not crossed the line.
Glasgow City were struggling to keep possession, but still were creating the odd chance. After a tackle, the ball set up kindly for Jo Love but her shot went over. Then from a 35-yard free-kick, Hayley Lauder’s curling effort was saved after Fife made a late adjustment.
And then Hibs took the lead in style. Launching a counter, Richards looked up and noticed Alexander on the edge of her box, and she tried her luck – her driven shot had the power and accuracy to lob the keeper and fly into the top left corner.
They could have doubled their lead minute later when Richards played Arnot into the box, and her right-footed shot forced Alexander into a great parried save and Nicola Docherty was there to clear the loose ball.
City nearly equalised against the run of play in the 39th minute when Fife spilt Lauder’s corner, and Docherty’s shot was headed off the line.
And then at the end of the first half, Arnot tried to replicate her team-mate from 40 yards, but her effort went over.
Glasgow City’s head coach Eddie Wolecki Black made a slight tactical change at half-time, asking Denise O’Sullivan to drop into the centre of midfield, giving her more freedom to run at the Hibs defence. This nearly paid off immediately when O’Sullivan sent Fairlie into the box, but her first touch let her down.
They came close in the 51st minute from a 30-yard free-kick. Lauder ran over the ball, leaving it to Love whose driven effort smashed off the crossbar.
Despite City improving their possession control, Hibs was still creating chances. After a scramble on the edge of the box, Lucy Graham shot just wide of the right post.
City were starting to get their wide players into the game, and the two combined when at the end of a superb move, Abbi Grant picked out Hayley Lauder whose shot was cleared off the line.
Glasgow City made two changes, bringing on Erin Cuthbert and club captain Leanne Ross for Hayley Lauder and Rhonda Jones. This brought a formation change with Love dropping into defence and with both Cuthbert and O’Sullivan playing deep as the creative hub.
The equaliser came in the 77th minute when Ross whipped in a dangerous free-kick to where Montgomery had the perfect run to head into the bottom left corner.
Then Cuthbert nearly scored the winner when on the edge of the box she beat one player before her left-footed shot went agonisingly wide of the right post.
But in the 85th minute, Hibs nearly found the winner with their first shot on target of the second half. Lizzie Arnot’s fantastic cross picked out Graham unmarked in the box, and her volley forced Alexander into a superb parried save – but towards the waiting Claire Williamson, but Cheryl McCulloch reacted quickest to clear.
City dominated the final minutes but could not find another way past Jenna Fife, so the tie moved into extra-time. The early minutes were characterised by City playing Fairlie into the box twice, but an offside decision and a poor first touch stopped those moves.
But it was third time lucky in the 93rd minute. Leanne Ross played a slide pass down the right-wing into Fairlie’s run, catching out the Hibs defence. She cut in off the wing and broke into the box before from a narrow-angle, curling her shot into the far corner and putting City into the lead for the first time in the match.
Towards the end of the first half of extra-time, City came close to a third when Fairlie headed down a long ball towards Abbi Grant, who took her time before shooting narrowly wide.
Hibs came into the second half of extra-time and came close when Arnot’s corner picked out Siobhan Hunter, but her header was well saved by Alexander. From the resulting corner, the ball fell once again to Hunter who this time shot over.
And then in the 115th minute, Hibs had a glorious chance. Lia Tweedie’s flicked header sent Kirsty Smith behind City’s defence and running towards the keeper. Alexander remained composed, not giving the Hibs player an obvious target and Smith placed shot just went the wrong side of the far post.
In the final moments, both sides had glorious chances. O’Sullivan played Fairlie into the box and from a narrow-angle produced a brilliant save from Fife. And then Arnot’s diagonal pass looked like she had picked out Tweedie in the box, she was denied by brave keeping from Alexander.
The final was a pulsating match and a fantastic spectacle for the Scottish Women’s Game.
Glasgow City: Lee Alexander, Emma Black, Rhonda Jones (Erin Cuthbert 70), Cheryl McCulloch (Lauren McMurchie 117), Nicola Docherty, Jo Love, Kerry Montgomery, Abbi Grant, Denise O’Sullivan, Hayley Lauder (Leanne Ross 68 (Georgie Rafferty 120), Susan Fairlie.
Subs not Used: Fiona Brown, Susan Lappin, Megan Cunningham (GK).
Goals: Montgomery 77, Fairlie 93.
Booked: Black, Montgomery, McCulloch.
Hibernian: Jenna Fife, Emma Brownlie, Joelle Murray, Kirsty Smith, Lisa Robertson, Lucy Graham, Abi Harrison (Claire Williamson 71), Chloe Arthur, Lizzie Arnot, Heather Richards (Lia Tweedie 97).
Subs not Used: Zoe Johnstone, Simone McMahon, Amy Lynch, Chelsea Cornet, Hannah Reid (GK).
Goal: Richards 27.
Referee: Nicolle Andrews
Assistant Referees: Hayley Irvine and Vikki Allan
4th Official: Jennifer Carbery.