My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Glasgow City all but secured their ninth SWPL championship in a row as they beat their title rivals Hibernian 2-0 in a tight and nervy game. The pressure coming into the match was all on Hibernian, with City’s superior goal difference being the equivalent of an extra point.
It was the Edinburgh side who dominated the first half, but they couldn’t take advantage of their chances. They were punished as it was City who took the lead early in the second half through Hayley Lauder’s strike. Erin Cuthbert’s superb volley doubled City’s lead and Hibs couldn’t find the goal to make the final moments interesting.
The result means that the title race is all but over: Hibernian require Glasgow City to lose their final two league games, and for there to be a 34 goal swing.
The league games between the two sides this season have been pulsating 3-3 draws, but with the pressure of the occasion, it was no surprise that the exchanges were often nervy or lacking the quality required. In the opening minutes, Hibs had a free-kick in a dangerous position, but Siobhan Hunter’s driven effort hit the wall. City failed to clear, giving Hunter a second chance but her lobbed effort was well saved by Lee Alexander.
Whenever City got into dangerous positions, their crosses or passes always seemed to be behind their player, or they picked out a Hibs’ player. And they nearly handed the Edinburgh side an opener where a goalkeeping error meant Cheryl McCulloch’s pass-back nearly crossed the line, but Alexander recovered to make a sliding clearance.
It was still Hibs who were creating the rare chances in the first half. A long ball from Hunter sent Abi Harrison behind the City defence, but her right-footed shot crept just wide of the far post.
And then late in the half, Hibs came even closer. A quickly taken free kick allowed Lisa Robertson to play a dangerous cross into the box and Lia Tweedie saw her header smash back down off the crossbar, and McCulloch reacted quickly to clear the ball behind. From that resultant corner, Hunter saw her header cleared off the line by Jo Love.
City made a half-time substitution, bringing on Kerry Montgomery for Clare Shine, which allowed Erin Cuthbert to be played higher up the pitch.
Hibs had a couple of half-chances early on in the second half, with Harrison shooting over and Emma Brownlie seeing her free-kick blocked.
But then City took the lead with an efficient counter-attack. Love won the ball around the half-way line and her long pass sent Denise O’Sullivan free. She unselfishly picked out Hayley Lauder who the time to set herself in the box, but despite getting weak contact on her shot, it crept under the body of Hibs keeper Jenna Fife. That was City’s first shot on target.
City nearly doubled their lead minutes later. Cuthbert’s cross was only cleared as far as Montgomery whose speculative lob only just dropped over the crossbar.
There was a nervy moment for City in defence when McCulloch cleared into Nicola Docherty, and that gave both Harrison and Tweedie chances, but the Glasgow defence recovered in time to clear.
And then City doubled their lead when the ball set up perfectly for Cuthbert 20 yards from goal, and she fired a volley into the bottom-left corner.
The final moments of the game possibly had more chances than the previous 80 minutes. Heather Richards launched a meandering run from the half-way line, beating several City players into the box, but her shot from a narrow angle was saved by Alexander. Then Robertson played Kirsty Smith into the box, but from close range she blasted over. And finally, Lizzie Arnot’s corner found Hunter, but her header went agonisingly wide.
Hibernian Ladies: (4-1-4-1) Jenna Fife; Claire Williamson, Emma Brownlie, Siobhan Hunter, Kirsty Smith; Lisa Robertson; Abi Harrison, Heather Richards, Chloe Arthur, Lizzie Arnot, Lia Tweedie.
Glasgow City: (4-2-3-1) Lee Alexander; Leanne Ross, Lauren McMurchie, Cheryl McCulloch, Nicola Docherty; Jo Love, Erin Cuthbert (Georgie Rafferty 79); Abbi Grant (Brogan Hay 73), Denise O’Sullivan, Hayley Lauder; Clare Shine (Kerry Montgomery HT)
Goals: Lauder 58, Cuthbert 67.