Photo by Tommy Hughes.
Neither side had lost a competitive match since the end of April/beginning of May, when they recorded one win apiece in a double header in the SWPL Cup and the SBSSWPL. Glasgow City, playing in one of their final games at the Excelsior Stadium, sat two points ahead of Hibernian going into the game on a chilly Airdrie evening.
City were the better team in the first half and could have went in more than the solitary Katie McCabe goal they scored before a very even second half in which both sides had chances to change the complexion of the match and the league table.
Hibs started the match brighter and a half chance fell to Rachel Small after Abi Harrison played her through on two minutes but City keeper Lee Alexander was quick to react and thump the ball off Small for a goal-kick.
City could have been ahead on eight minutes but for a rouge foul. McCabe picked up the ball 25 yards out and, just as the referee blew his whistle, launched a super effort into the back of Jenna Fife’s goal. A sign of things to come.
With 20 minutes gone Leanne Crichton played the ball through to McCabe advancing on the Hibs goal and, from the edge of the box, her shot was destined for the top corner but for a super stop from Jenna Fife.
With Hibs frustrating the home attack, City took chances from range and Fife was equal to attempts from Jo Love and Hayley Lauder, when they didn’t sail over.
City though took a deserved lead after half an hour when Lisa Robertson passed the ball straight to McCabe and the Irish captain hit a fantastic shot into the bottom corner.
Hibs changed it up in the second half but it was Glasgow City who had the first chances. A ball came in from the left that resulted in three shots blocked with Lauder and Crichton lurking before Noelle Murray shot over the bar.
Hibs best chance came just before the hour mark when Kirsty Smith won her side a corner on the left. The ball came in for Harrison on the edge of the six-yard box and her glancing header went wide of the far post.
They away side started to turn up the heat on City and Robertson played a lovely defence-splitting pass through the middle for Lucy Graham but, with Alexander advancing, she blasted the ball over the bar.
With 20 minutes to go Hibs had another glorious opportunity when a mistake at the back almost allowed Robertson in but Alexander did well before the ball fell to Harrison. Alexander again closed the striker down on the edge of the box and, as she worked to make space to get the shot away, several defenders got back to overload the box. Harrison did get the shot away but it was well saved by Alexander before the follow-up was thumped off target.
Hibs last real chance in the game came on 83 minutes when Harrison picked up the ball and fired in a shot from the edge of the box. It looked to be going wide before cannoning off Crichton and almost falling in the box for a Hibs shirt as it went out for a corner.
The match ended in a bit of confusion as Hibs were looking for the equaliser. Lauder went down with a head knock on halfway just as a beautiful ball was lofted over the top and into the path of Harrison who would have had a great chance had the referee not stopped play with Lauder injured. The referee stopping the game to ensure she was okay before restarting the match.
There wasn’t enough time for Hibs to get the ball back when play did resume as Glasgow City earned a hard-fought victory over their title rivals.
The result means that Glasgow City remain first in the SBSSWPL 1 table, now five points ahead of Hibernian. However, having played a game more, the title is still to play for and the final meeting of the sides in the league on the 12th of November could be the match to decide the champions depending on other results.