Glasgow City extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 table after edging out Hibs in a keenly contested clash at Petershill Park. Kirsty Howat’s double was enough to see the league leaders remain unbeaten, despite Jamie-Lee Napier’s late goal for Hibs, who had Siobhan Hunter sent off.
There were debutants in both sides with Amy Muir starting for Hibs following her move from Rangers while at right back for City, Rachel McLauchlan made her debut against her old side after returning to Scotland from Yeovil Town.
Hibs got the better of City in their last clash, winning the SWPL Cup on penalties in May, but it was the home side who went in front after only eight minutes. Hayley Lauder played a perfectly weighted ball in behind Amy Muir, allowing Kirsty Howat to volley past Jenna Fife to give City the lead.
City continued on the front foot and had strong claims for a penalty turned down when Joelle Murray appeared to catch Howat late in the box, but the referee waved away the appeals.
Lauder showed great awareness soon after to flick the ball on for Clare Shine, whose effort sneaked just past the base of the post, while Hibs’ first attempt was a volley that flew over from Rachael Boyle, formerly Small.
Despite their poor start, Hibs got their foot on the ball a bit more in the middle of the half, but that was all for nothing when City doubled their lead on the half hour mark. Nicola Docherty’s cross caused havoc in the Hibs box with Siobhan Hunter’s failed clearance falling to Howat, who made no mistake in burying her shot in the corner of the net.
It was almost three when Docherty volleyed straight at Fife just four minutes later, with the Hibs keeper then producing a stunning acrobatic save to push Leanne Ross’ free-kick past the post.
Boyle was Hibs main outlet in the first half and she saw two efforts blocked by defenders after good link-up play between Jamie-Lee Napier and Amy Muir. The second effort deflected behind for a corner and from the resultant set-piece, Murray’s flick found Kirsten Reilly but she couldn’t keep her shot down and City were let off the hook.
Glasgow City could have had the game wrapped up by half-time when Howat dispossessed Murray, but fortunately for the Hibs skipper, Fife was on hand to deny the forward.
Megan Foley had a looping header that went just over the bar for City early in the second half as it looked as though they would kick on where they left off but instead it was Hibs who had the better of the half. Both Reilly and Shannon McGregor saw their shots flash just wide as the side from the capital upped the ante in search of a way back into the game.
Lauder had a volley saved for City in a rare foray forward but it was still Hibs who looked the more threatening and Siobhan Higgins almost diverted Napier’s cross into the net.
With eleven minutes to go, Hibs’ task became a whole lot harder when they were reduced to ten players with Hunter picking up two bookings in a matter of seconds. The centre back was originally penalised for a foul but the yellow card soon became red for her protests to the referee and she was given her marching orders.
City should have added a third when Lauder burst through on the right but her shot was tame and easy for Fife. The keeper released the ball quickly and it was sent over the top for Napier to chase with the 19-year old managing to force the ball past Lee Alexander to give Hibs a lifeline.
Grant Scott’s side weren’t able to fashion much more after that though, Muir’s free-kick which evaded everyone before almost sneaking in at the back post, the closest they would come.
Howat had another chance to grab her hat-trick in added time, but her shot came crashing off the bar.
The win sees City extend their lead at the top to five points, with Celtic leapfrogging Hibs into second after their 3-1 win over Rangers.
Next Sunday sees City travel to the capital to face Edinburgh Caledonia in the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup. As for Hibs, their cup clash with Stirling Uni has been put back due to their involvement in the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stages in Slovenia, where they will face local side Pomurje Beltinci, Georgian cracks FC Nike and Welsh champions Cardiff Met between Wednesday and next Tuesday.
Glasgow City: Alexander; McLauchlan, Ross, Love, Docherty; Lauder (Cunningham, 90), Crichton, Kerr (Sinclair, 58); Foley, Shine (Clark, 73), Howat
Hibs: Fife; Muir, Murray, Hunter, Michie; Reilly (Cavanagh, 73), Boyle; McGregor (Gallacher, 64), Cornet, Davidson (Higgins, 55); Napier