Hibs 3 Hearts 0: Rachael Boyle lives up to husband Martin's Easter Road exploits on historic night for Scottish women's football
It was a familiar story of a tight, competitive match at Easter Road ultimately being settled by a player with the Boyle moniker on the shirt weighing in with a goal and an assist.
But this time it was Scottish internationalist Rachael who settled the first women’s capital derby match to be played under the lights at Easter Road.
“I couldn’t let him outshine me,” she laughed when asked about matching her husband Martin’s contributions. “He comes home every week saying that he has scored another goal and counting up his tally so this was good.”
It was a game that the more experienced Hibs side had enjoyed the best of but, having opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Alexa Coyle headed home from close range, they had struggled to put the outcome beyond their city rivals.
The final pass, the end product, the little bit of composure in the final third had eluded them for long periods of play, as they took their time to find their flow and their guests had defended doggedly, in a manner befitting a contest where bragging rights as well as points were at stake.
But, biding their time, the home side were able to up their game after the break and produce the more joined up and fluid football as they continued to probe for the right openings and Dean Gibson’s side got their reward in front of the 5512 crowd - a record for a women’s club match in Scotland - when Boyle netted the second in the 70th minute and then squared the ball for lifelong Hibs fan Eilidh Adams to finish 10 minutes later.
While that left the young Hearts team still seeking their first league victory of the season, it got the Leith outfit back to winning ways after losing Sunday’s contest with Celtic to a last gasp goal. It also capped off a memorable night for the first time attendees, who will surely want to take in more action. But also for players like Adams.
“I have been coming here since I was really young - I’m a season ticket holder - so it is a dream come true,” she beamed. “I just wanted to get on the pitch tonight but to get an assist with my first touch and then also score, it’s amazing. It feels incredible.”
Hearts had enjoyed a couple of chances in the first half, when Monica Forsyth tested the home resolve then Amelie Birse was furious with herself when she failed to cancel out Coyle’s opener from a decent position in the 22nd minute. But their openings were few and far between, especially after the interval.
There, the gulf that still exists between the teams - one that is well-established at the top end of the women’s game and another fledgling force - became more obvious.
“We went in at halftime and knew that the performance wasn’t quite there,” said Boyle. “We needed to step it up and I think we did that in the second half and moved the ball really well and came up with another two goals. So we are glad we could come up with a performance and get the clean sheet as well.”