Hibernian Ladies manager Willie Kirk believes the pressure will be off his team when they take on Glasgow City in the SWF Scottish Cup final.
Kirk hailed his players’ efforts after their weekend 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over Rangers, which followed a pulsating 120 minutes of action that failed to separate the teams in their semi-final.
After holders City defeated Celtic 3-0 to book their own spot in the November 17 final at Broadwood, Kirk believes his side will go into the game without any pressure.
He said: “The girls can go into the game and play with a freedom because they will be underdogs. Most people will expect City to win and claim the treble so the pressure is on them not to slip up.”
In Sunday’s semi-final, the Hibees made the breakthrough early in the second half through Rachael Walkingshaw, only for Amy Harrison to cancel out her effort and send the game into extra time.
With neither side able to find a winning goal, the match was decided on penalty kicks. Hibs goalkeeper Shannon Lynn was the hero, saving from Sophie Riley and allowing Kirsty Smith to slot the decisive spot-kick.
Boss Kirk commented: “I’m absolutely delighted because the girls thoroughly deserved the victory after working their backsides off.
“Although we started slowly and it took us a while to get going, I never felt Rangers posed us a huge threat.
“We lost Sammy [Hare] to injury, so we made a tactical change to move Lizzie Arnott into the middle of the park and she changed the game.
“The girls’ fitness levels were terrific and I thought we were the stronger side in the second half and even into extra time.
“We should have won in normal time, yet having gone all the way to penalties may prove more beneficial because of the pressure that came with it.
“The girls will be more confident if they were to go through a similar scenario in the future and it will be beneficial to their self-belief and development.
“It has been a long season for the girls, they have been terrific throughout and I feel they deserved a final place.”