Sunday 4 September 2016, 14.00, Albyn Park
A return to women’s football and the Scottish Cup quarter final clash between Hibs Ladies and Celtic.
Hibs Ladies began in 1997, although for their first two seasons the club was under the auspices of Preston Athletic. Since their first Scottish Cup win in 2003, they have been regular trophy winners and have secured three league titles, five Scottish Cups and 4 League Cups. They’ve also been runners-up in 5 cup finals and been second in the league three times.
Their league and cup double in 2006-07 was secured with a 100% league record and although they have played in the UEFA Women’s Cup, this season sees their first one in the UEFA Champions League, qualifying through their second place finish.
They are current cup holders and have reached the quarter final with an 11-0 win over League Division One South side Boroughmuir Thistle and a 19-0 win over Renfrew of League Division Two South West. Celtic were likely to provide much stiffer opposition. In both the league games against each other this season, Hibs have won by a goal.
Initially playing at Hibs training ground in East Lothian, 2011 saw a move to share with East Juniors side Broxburn Athletic at Albyn Park.
Celtic’s women’s section was established in 2007 when they took over Arsenal North. Celtic reached the Cup final in their inaugural year, losing to today’s opponents in extra time. They have been runners-up in the Premier league twice and were beaten finalists in the Scottish Cup in 2008. Their only silverware so far has been the League Cup in 2010.
With a suggestion that Celtic were cutting back on their woman’s team at the end of 2013-14, a number of players left the club. From 2015, they’ve played their home games at the K-Park Training Academy, sharing with Lowland League side East Kilbride.
Celtic have beaten two fellow Premier League sides on the way to the quarter final, Aberdeen 7-0 and Forfar Farmington 3-1.
Hibs currently sit second in the league table behind Glasgow City, with the Celtic ladies in third place.
Celtic started well and Grant cut in from the left with 4 minutes gone and hit a great shot goalwards, but it went just wide with Jeffries a spectator in the home goal.
Clark lined up a free kick for Celtic with 7 minutes gone after Grant had been brought down about 22 yards from goal. Her shot struck the wall, wrong footed Jeffries and flew into the net to put Celtic in front.
Montgomery chased a ball into the Hibs’ box in 11 minutes, and looked to be late on Jeffries as she collected the ball, but the striker seemed to come off worst.
There was a mixture of disbelief and laughter in the crowd in 25 minutes when the linesman didn’t flag for a throw in when Roberts attempt to keep the ball in at the half way line was a good 3 feet over the line.
Celtic continued to put pressure on the Hibs defence and in 28 minutes a loose ball fell to Howat on the corner of the box and her clever lobbed effort went inches wide.
Grant brought the ball down the left for Celtic in 30 minutes. Her cross into the middle was met by Hibs’ Brownlie, who volleyed behind. Even a slight misjudgement and it could have been an own goal.
A delivery into the Celtic box in 33 minutes seemed to be right on the head of Arnot, but she didn’t make contact with the ball.
As the half ended, Celtic still maintained their lead and looked the more dangerous of the two sides.
Hibs won a free kick in 47 minutes which was played to the back post for Harrison whose well hit shot was turned round the post by Cunningham.
Arnot’s corner in 51 minutes went right across the face of the Celtic goal and went just wide of the far post without a touch from anyone.
A long ball forward by Hibs in 52 minutes was met by the head of Celtic’s Middleton, but her header dropped to Harrison on the right and she charged into the box before side footing in the equaliser.
A minute later, Harrison turned provider when she passed to Graham, but Cunningham managed to block with her legs.
A great through ball by Williamson in 55 minutes released Harrison for Hibs again, but she tried to lob the keeper first time and got her connection wrong, with the ball drifting wide.
It was all Hibs at this stage and Harrison was through again in 56 minutes, but blasted over.
She only had to wait another minute for her next chance, McLauchlan sliding her in and this time, her first time shot flew into the net past Cunningham to give Hibs the lead.
In 61 minutes, Roberts brought the ball forward for Hibs and after riding a challenge, played a one-two with Arnot before shooting for goal, but it was too close to Cunningham.
A great run up the left by Hibs’ Smith in 63 minutes saw her cross in for Harrison in the six-yard box, who fired into the net, but the flag was up.
Arnot had a chance for Hibs on the left in 66 minutes, but Cunningham pushed the ball away.
McLauchlan went down the right in 79 minutes and with Harrison shouting for the ball at the front post, that’s exactly where she put it, and the striker swept the ball into the net for her hat-trick.
Some good play between Celtic’s Richards and Mulvey in 80 minutes ended with the former curling a shot just wide of the post.
Harrison cut the ball back to McLauchlan in 82 minutes, but her goal bound shot was blocked by Celtic defender Clark.
Hibs comfortably saw out the rest of the game to progress through to the semi-final.
Celtic played some great football in the first half and looked the better side. Hibs were much more direct after half time which suited them better and their power and pace won them the game. Two good sides.
Smith at left back for Hibs was very solid in the tackle and Roberts was tenacious in midfield. Harrison suddenly came alive in the second half and took her goals very well. On another day, she could have had 5 or 6 in the second half.
Celtic’s midfield seemed to be all over Hibs in the first half but were completely bypassed in the second. Up front, Mulvey was very strong and held the ball up well. Montgomery supported her well and was full of running, but they didn’t have much to feed on after half time.
Full Time: Hibs Ladies 3 Celtic 1
Hibs Ladies: 31 Kirsty Jeffries, 2 Clare Williamson, 17 Joelle Murray, 24 Emma Brownlie, 11 Kirsty Smith, 19 Chelsea Cornet, 6 Lisa Roberts, 13 Lucy Graham, 12 Rachel McLauchlan, 21 Abi Harrison, 7 Lizzie Arnot. Subs: 1 Jenna Fife, 4 Siobhan Hunter, 8 Cailin Michie, 9 Caroline Heron, 10 Sarah Ewens ,14 Shannon Leishman, 16 Ellis Notley.
Celtic: 25 Megan Cunningham, 17 Alex Middleton, 15 Kelly Clark, 19 Georgie Rafferty, 4 Ellis Dalgliesh, 5 Natalie Ross, 23 Heather Richards, 14 Kirsty Howat, 10 Kerry Montgomery, 26 Abbi Grant (McBrearty 84), 13 Suzanne Mulvey. Subs: 3 Cara McBrearty, Kerr, 11 Joanne Paton, 21 Danielle Connolly, 12 Courtney Whyte, Cairney, Rae.