Hibs Women verdict: Promising signs but improvements vital ahead of SWPL Cup semi-final showdown

A final scoreline of 3-0 may not have been the fairest reflection of a scrappy game in which Glasgow City took their chances and Hibs Women struggled to create many of their own, but there were enough promising signs in the performance to prevent any alarm bells being sounded ahead of the SWPL Cup semi-final against Celtic on Sunday.

Colette Cavnagh battled hard in midfield
Colette Cavnagh battled hard in midfield

A cross that ended up in the net via a strong gust of wind, a free kick that wasn't dealt with, and a breakaway goal at the death consigned Hibs to a 3-0 defeat against their long-standing rivals at a blustery Tony Macaroni Arena on Sunday as Dean Gibson's side failed to build on their midweek win against Hamilton.

While losing any game by three clear goals is cause for disappointment, City were perhaps fortunate in winning by such a margin. A lot of their play was quick, slick, and asked more questions of the Hibs defence than the home side managed of their visitors but the Glaswegians can, and often do, perform at a much higher level.

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True, the wind made life difficult, and the low sun made visibility testing at times, but Hibs will be disappointed not to have given their opponents more of a game.

This Hibs team has strong individual players in its ranks but they also play well as a unit. Colette Cavanagh and Ellis Notley battled away in midfield while Amy Gallacher must surely be knocking on the Scotland door – not necessarily for her performance against Glasgow City, but for her overall displays in green and white this season.

Up front, Alexa Coyle didn’t get much change from Claire Walsh and Jenna Clark but her hold-up play was impressive at times and against most teams she might have had more joy.

Despite conceding the three goals the defence had its moments too. Siobhan Hunter and Joelle Murray formed a formidable centre-half pairing to begin with but the loss of the first goal, from a wind-assisted cross that whirled into the net, might have been prevented had Priscilla Chinchilla been shut down sooner on the right.

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Gibson said afterwards that he hadn’t recognised his team; a comment on the high standards he sets for his players, and the majority of their performances to date.

The midweek win against Accies was achieved with several regular starters on the bench, and it’s worth noting that the side is still without Micky McAlonie while Shannon McGregor, who looked bright in a second-half substitute appearance, is still working her way back to full fitness after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an ACL injury.

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Facing Celtic in the semi-finals of the SWPL Cup on Sunday is the ideal game for Gibson and his players to focus on in a bid to put their defeat by Glasgow City behind them.

A big game, with the prospect of another cup final appearance should they win, is the perfect tonic for a team eager to make amends after a disappointing showing against their old adversaries.

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The team has a full week to prepare for the game at Forthbank, with plenty to work on from the Glasgow City loss. Gibson and his team have bounced back before from disappointing results and the smart money woul be on them doing likewise once again.