Emily Mutch double save helps Hibs edge dramatic Capital derby against Hearts at Tynecastle
Scotland No 1 Craig Gordon was there to support Hearts, but he would surely have grudgingly admired this performance from Hibs goalkeeper Emily Mutch.
She hasn’t even been first-choice for most of the season, but the 20-year-old’s superb double save from a free-kick and penalty on the stroke of half time justified the faith shown in her by Hibs boss Dean Gibson.
Gordon would have been proud of it. He was in a 3,508 crowd at Tynecastle who must have enjoyed every minute of this dramatic derby.
It had everything. Goals from Rachel Boyle and Siobhan Hunter gave Hibs a deserved 2-0 half-time lead, but Erin Rennie came off the bench to score on her Hearts debut against the club who had only just released her as the home side piled on the pressure in the second half.
Hibs had to dig deep and when Eilidh Adams turned to sweep home in the 90th minute and secure the three points, the relief was palpable. Her personal joy was short-lived, however, as she was stretchered off with an injury in stoppage time.
The 5,512 crowd at Easter Road when the teams last met in September was a new record attendance for a domestic women’s game in Scotland.
Free entry and good PR from both clubs was used in the build up again only for the arrival of Omicron to put a dampener on any attempt to break that record.
Nevertheless, housing the 1,000 or so Hibs fans in the traditional away end behind the goal helped create a derby vibe.
There was no shortage of drama for both sets of fans to enjoy, the best of it coming in first-half stoppage time when Mutch produced her sensational double save to keep her team’s 2-0 lead intact.
It started with a stunning finger-tip save to divert Maria McAneny’s goal-bound free-kick onto the crossbar. She was injured in the stramash that followed in the six-yard box, referee Stephen Gill awarding a penalty for handball against Hibs defender Leah Eddie as Hearts attempted to scramble home the rebound.
After a long delay for treatment, Mutch picked herself up to parry Jennifer Smith’s powerful penalty with both hands. It led to another scramble and another knock for Mutch, but she came out of alright in the end. Hearts midfielder Monica Forsyth came off worse this time and had to be substituted before the interval.
Hearts had started the first half brightly, their new five-days-a-week training regime giving them a spring in their step. But Hibs gradually took control, Amy Gallagher threatening with her trickery and pace.
It was a foul on her that led to Boyle’s opening goal from a free-kick delivery she surely intended as a cross. It evaded everyone, however, and bounced into the net.
The second was more routine, defender Siobhan Hunter rising from a whipped corner to thump home a header.
Hearts came roaring back in the second half, forcing Mutch to keep punching clear from a bombardment of corners delivered right on top of her. The keeper also kept out a Lia Tweedie header. She could do no wrong.
Hearts roused the home support by keeping the pressure up and it was a defence-splitting pass from Tweedie which gave Rennie the chance to finally beat former teammate Mutch. The finish was superb, worthy of the match itself.
Hearts: Rodgers, Delworth (Davies 76), Hunter, Browning, Forsyth, Kaney (Rennie 45), Tweedie, Smith, Birse (Rennie 45) , Cowan, McAney. Subs not used: McKay, Williamson, Aitchison, Anderson.
Hibs: Mutch, Leishman (McAlonie 60), Muir (Murray 80), Hunter, Eddie, Boyle, Notley, Cavanagh, McGregor, Gallacher, Coyle (Adams 68). Subs not used: English, Malone, Morrison.
Referee: Stephen Gill.