A clinical first half performance from Hibernian ensured they would go into the mid-season break at the head of the chasing pack after a 6-0 victory against Rangers at New Tinto Park in Sunday afternoon’s Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 encounter.
The home side had come into the game on the back of victories over Stirling University and Forfar Farmington which ensured they would be 4th in the table going into the summer but had yet to take points of off the three sides above them in the table whilst the visitors, who had scored seven in midweek against Motherwell at Peffermill, knew that a victory would be key when it came to keeping in touch with league leaders Glasgow City.
Hibernian started quickly and their first opportunity came with just two minutes on the clock as a Jamie-Lee Napier cross found Cailin Michie in the box who saw her close range effort crash off the bar but they didn’t have long to wait for the opener as on the fourth minute the deadlock was broken. Midfielder Kirsty Morrison managed to keep the ball in near the touchline before before cutting inside and putting her shot past 17-year-old Chloe Nicolson in the Rangers goal.
The Edinburgh side’s pressure would continue, however the opportunity to double their lead didn’t arrive until the 28th minute. After a fine save from Nicolson the ball bounced back out to Kirsten Reilly who’s effort fizzed towards Rangers midfielder Jade Gallon with Gallon adjudged to have handled the ball from close range. As the debate continued around the award it was left to Siobhan Hunter to step up and put Hibernian 2-0 to the good, her penalty just out of reach of the diving Nicolson.
With Rangers trying to regroup the Ainslie Park side took their chance to extend the lead to three before the interval, after Napier’s close range effort cracked off the near post it was Michie who was quickest to react to the rebound and virtually guarantee the three points for her side. For Rangers it was a half of few chances, with an Amy Muir effort the only real attempt at troubling World Cup bound Jenna Fife in the Hibs goal.
Amy McDonald’s side did come out after the break with purpose though and would enjoy the majority of the possession and territory for the opening 25 minutes of the half although chances were at a premium with Holly Napier’s 15 yard strike the best they could muster. It looked as if Hibernian were happy to sit on the lead as both sides made changes as the half progressed but three goals in the last nine minutes added an emphatic note to the scoreline, a note that was perhaps a touch harsh given the Light Blues re-emergence into the game after the interval.
On the 81st minute substitute Shannon Leishman saw her initial effort stopped by Nicolson but it would again be a Hibs attacker reacting quicker than the Rangers’ defence as she tucked home the fourth. An 88th minute header from substitute Amy Gallacher and an injury time strike from Napier rounded out the scoring as Hibernian ended a productive week that started with an SWPL Cup triumph and ended with 13 goals and six points from two league matches. As for Rangers, it was a familiar story with moments of control and quality juxtaposed with mental lapses and lack of composure in front of goal.
Hibernian Head Coach, Grant Scott: “It’s been a smashing week, I wasn’t expecting that goal bounce today but we got in early and that helps to open up the opposition. Anything less than the three points today we would have been devastated going into the break and the fact we’ve won the cup and these two games after that blip, and I genuinely think it was a blip (against Celtic), is great.
“We’ll make a couple of plans to freshen up the squad, we’ll train a bit and give the players a bit of break before getting them back for end of June ahead of the Champions League qualifying section.”
Rangers Head Coach, Amy McDonald: “We were disappointed to go in 3-0 at half time and I thought the penalty was really soft and I think the standards of the officials need to improve. I thought we did well to rattle Hibs after half time but to lose those three goals at the end of the game was pretty sore to take. I think we’re too nice at times and we need to go and challenge them, we had chances which we didn’t take. It’s such small margins for us now, it’s an area we need to improve, but it’s the hardest bit too improve.
(On the first half of the season) Really disappointed. We’ve shown that we can play good football and complete against good players but then there’s lapses in concentration which makes it really frustrating.”
Rangers: Nicolson, Dalgliesh, Coakley, Watson, Muir, Gemmell, J. Gallon, Robertson, Brown, Napier, Boyce. Subs: Honeyman, Inglis, McQuillan, Donnelly, McCartney, Hay, Ramsay.
Hibernian: Fife, Napier, Hunter, Michie, McGregor, Cavanagh, Notley, Murray, Cornet, Morrison, Reilly. Subs: Tweedie, Davidson, Currie, Leishman, Gallacher, Gibb.