May 21 will forever be etched in Hibs history.
This time it was the turn of Hibs Ladies to mark that special day as they successfully defended the SWPL League Cup with a 4-1 victory over Celtic at Broadwood.
Given there are several supporters of the club within manager Chris Roberts’ dressing room, yesterday’s triumph made cause for a double celebration as the Capital side marked a year’s anniversary from the 3-2 win over Rangers that ended their 114-year Scottish Cup hoodoo.
Goals from Kirsty Smith, Lucy Graham, Rachel McLauchlan and Rachael Small saw Hibs Ladies lift the trophy they won last June – all the motivation they needed according to stand-in captain Small.
“From our own perspective the talk in the changing room beforehand was ‘here we go, two in a row’,” the 25-year-old quipped. “Obviously there was a huge amount on social media about the famous day last May and we’re just delighted to add to that. If it helps the club then we’re privileged to do so.”
Asked about her responsibility as captain, she added: “It’s an honour. I’ve not been with the team long so to get it has been a bit of a shock. But it’s just an armband at the end of the day, everyone’s a captain out there as we’ve got quite a few big characters in the squad and everybody takes responsibility. To get one trophy in the bag already, it really gives us confidence going forward.”
As expected, former Aberdeen player Small retained the captaincy with Joelle Murray again listed amongst the substitutes as Roberts opted for the same starting 11 that had been so impressive in the 2-1 defeat of Celtic on league business last Tuesday.
The holders went ahead as early as the fifth minute as Siobhan Hunter played a sweeping pass out to the left where Smith collected. The Scotland internationalist had time to cut inside her opponent before unleashing a thunderous drive that flew past Megan Cunningham from 20 yards.
However, the Glasgow side were level inside a minute as some slack play from full-back Cailin Michie, who would later go on to be named player of the match, allowed Ruesha Littlejohn a clear view of Jenna Fife’s goal and she made no mistake in turning the ball beyond the Hibs No.1 – the first goal the Hibees had conceded in this season’s competition.
It was Celtic’s turn for a lapse in concentration that gave Katey Turner space inside the box but Cunningham got that all-important touch to turn the ball around the far post.
Graham restored Hibs’ lead, though, with ten minutes remaining of the first half, the midfielder producing a precise finish into the corner following McLauchlan’s pass.
But Hibs again looked vulnerable having just taken the lead for a second time, Michie forced to block Natalie Ross’ goalbound effort.
Hibs were gifted a two-goal advantage just two minutes after the restart, American Darcy McFarlane played the ball straight into the path of Turner, whose well-weighted cross was met by McLauchlan on the volley.
Celtic lacked the same belief they displayed in the first 45 and were unable to apply any real pressure on the Hibs backline.
And, the Hibees wrapped the game up 12 minutes from time when Abi Harrison’s first-time effort was blocked by Kelly Clark and Small was the fortunate recipient as she guided the ball home via Cunningham to continue her recent scoring spree.
Substitiute Amy Gallacher almost added a fifth six minutes from time when the teenager met Harrison’s cross from the left but she failed to keep her effort under the crossbar.
Head coach Roberts spoke of enormous pride at his side clinching their first piece of silverware of the season.
“It’s been such a tough four weeks for us with the run of fixtures and the injuries we have had so I’m so proud of the girls,” he said. “I think it’s testament to them with how much desire they have to win trophies. Our main priority is the league but now we’ve won the first one we want to go on and win more. Silverware needs to be a regular thing for this team.”
Celtic: Cunningham, Ross, Napier, Crilly (Howat 75), Montgomery, Whyte, Mulvey (Ewens 70), Clark, Poucel (Richards 64), Littljohn, McFarlane (Fulton 75). Subs: Dalglish, Gibson, Rafferty.
Hibs Ladies: Fife, Hunter, Michie (Leishman 90), Smith, McLauchlan, Graham, Turner (Tweedie 64), Cornet (Gallacher 77), Harrison (Murray 89), Small, Brownlie. Subs: Robertson, Reid.