Hibs Ladies thrash Celtic 9-0 to win SWPL Cup yet again
Hibs Ladies won the SWPL Cup for a third consecutive year with a devastating 9-0 win over Celtic.
The Capital side tore opponents Celtic apart with ease at the Falkirk Stadium, cruising to a 4-0 lead inside the opening half-an-hour before racking up another five in the second half.
There was nothing spectacular about Grant Scott’s side’s display – just a well-drilled performance that underlined the gulf between Hibs, Glasgow City and the rest of Scottish women’s football.
Scotland international Lizzie Arnot, who has only recently recovered from a serious knee injury, was the star of the show, netting five and also chipping in with a couple of assists.
The Hibees have now taken home the silverware from their last five cup final appearances. They are also the current SSE Scottish Cup holders and, on this evidence, will never have a better opportunity to win their first league title in 11 years.
In truth, Hibs could have played without goalkeeper Hannah Reid, as the match was over as a contest after 30 minutes.
Ellis Notley put them ahead after seven minutes, meeting Emma Brownlie’s corner to loop the ball over goalkeeper Kiera Gibson.
Hibs, who are undefeated in SWPL 1 so far this season, looked threatening every time they entered their opponent’s half and it didn’t take them long to double their advantage.
Keeva Keenan brought Kirsty Smith’s lung-bursting run to a halt and referee Fiona Morton had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Arnot showed great composure in sending her effort from 12 yards into the far corner.
Abi Harrison’s through ball then put Arnot in the clear moments later and as she checked back on to her left foot, her intended pass to Chelsea Cornet was inadvertently put into her own net by Celtic captain Kelly Clark to make it three in the 20th minute.
Brownlie went agonisingly close to a fourth when the former Celtic player saw her 25-yard free kick flash just wide of Gibson’s right-hand post.
However, the fourth arrived when Amy Gallacher spotted Arnot’s clever run to the back post, the 22-year-old’s deft header coming back off the post only for Arnot to react quickest to knock the loose ball into the net for number four.
Hibs were now toying with their opponents and Smith should have made it five following a lovely reverse pass from Harrison, but was foiled by Gibson who stood up well to deny the full-back.
Winter signing Shannon McGregor then got in on the act with a terrific strike from the edge of the box that flew into the top corner two minutes after the restart.
Arnot completed her hat-trick with an astute finish before turning provider for substitute Kirsten Reilly to nod in from just a couple of yards for number seven of the afternoon.
And Arnot’s day got even better when she completed the scoring with her fourth and fifth of the match to leave Celtic shellshocked.
McGregor, 18, who joined from Aberdeen in January, said her decision to move to the Capital has been vindicated.
“I want to be lifting cups and this is why I came to Hibs,” she said. “I’ve only been here a couple of months and have already managed to win one. I feel I’ve settled in really well. It was an amazing performance from the whole team. We kept the ball really well and destroyed them in the first half an hour.
“We want both the cups and the league title so this will really motivate us going forward. We just want to keep it going.”
Head coach Scott, who took over from Kevin Milne in March, was thrilled with his players’ desire and commitment.
“I don’t think they get any better than that,” Scott said. “I think a lot of stuff came off for us today and Celtic have maybe had an off day. The pitch suited us as we made it big and played around them. The game-plan worked so I’m absolutely delighted.
“We dominated from start to finish and that’s the kind of team we are capable of being. The players have responded well since I’ve taken over.”
Hibs Ladies: Reid, McLauchlan (Michie 78), Brownlie, Notley (Hunter 65), Smith, Gallacher (Napier 61), Robertson, Cornet (Reilly 70), Arnot, McGregor, Harrison. Subs: Fife, Williamson, Tweedie.
Celtic: Gibson, Keenan, McCulloch (O’Neil 72), Rafferty, Cavanagh, Donaldson, Ross, Clark (Craig 61), Ewens (Adams 46), Giard (Connor 83), Pullar. Subs: Cunningham, Littlejohn.
Referee: Fiona Morton