CHRIS ROBERTS insists his Hibs will bounce back stronger following their Women’s Scottish Cup final defeat at the hands of Glasgow City.
Republic of Ireland internationalist Clare Shine scored all three goals as City defeated Hibs Ladies 3-0 at Ainslie Park to secure their fourth successive domestic treble.
It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the Hibees as they struggled to overcome the weather conditions and a dominant opponent.
Hibs boss Roberts said: “I cannot fault anyone for their effort, they gave everything they had and ran themselves into the ground for the cause. We’ve had a great year and the girls deserve so much credit for that, but they are gutted that they didn’t do themselves justice.”
The howling wind and rain made periods of the match almost farcical with Hibs, playing into a horrendous headwind, struggled to get the ball out of their half. So much so that an early clearance from Hibs goalkeeper Jenna Fife was caught by the wind and almost blown back into her net it was so powerful at times.
City, unsurprisingly, dominated the first half with Shine missing three clear-cut opportunities and former Spartans player Hayley Lauder shooting against the post as Hibs toiled to clear their lines.
The Easter Road side rarely threatened during the opening 45 minutes although they did have a good goal scoring opportunity when Emma Brownlie’s free kick picked out Siobhan Hunter lurking at the back post, however the defender’s half-volley was saved at her near post by Lee Alexander.
It appeared Hibs would survive the first-half onslaught unscathed but two minutes before the interval a mistake from Brownlie gifted Shine an opportunity that she grasped, the Irishwoman lashing an unstoppable strike over Fife and into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
As if to sum up Hibs’ luck on the afternoon, the strong headwind that had caused them so much problems in the first half and that they had hoped to use to their advantage after the break, had almost completely disappeared as the teams re-emerged.
The Hibees had their opportunities after the break with Abbi Harrison having a close-range volley blocked by Leanne Ross and Lia Tweedie denied by a good save from Alexander in the City goal.
Yet, it was Glasgow City that appeared the more likely to score with former Rangers midfielder Erin Cuthbert desperately unlucky not to notch a goal as she was denied firstly by the crossbar and then a stunning save from Fife.
With five minutes remaining, and Hibs pushing bodies forward in search of an elusive goal, City caught out their opponents with a simple ball over the top that Shine finished clinically to wrap-up the game as a contest. Shine had been a constant thorn in Hibs’ side all afternoon and she completed her hat-trick in the third minute of time added on when she pounced on an uncharacteristic mistake from Joelle Murray and slotted beyond the advancing Fife.
“For whatever reason we didn’t get going in the second half and it just didn’t happen for us,” commented Roberts.
“City were worthy winners, they played very well, made it difficult for us to get on the ball and limited us to only a couple of opportunities.
“The timing of the first goal has done us more than the mistake itself and chasing the game there is always a risk of being hit on the counter-attack and that is what happened with the late goals.
“It makes us more determined to be successful and if we continue to develop like we have then there is a real opportunity for us to push on again next season.”
Glasgow City: Alexander, McMurchie (McCulloch 90), Lauder, Love, O’Sullivan, Shine, Docherty (Fairlie 28), Ross, Grant (Crilly 68), Corsie, Cuthbert. Substitutes not used: Rafferty, Montgomery, Fleeting Cunningham.
Hibernian: Fife, Hunter, Tweedie (Williamson 68), Robertson, Arnot, Smith, Murray, Harrison, Richards (Cornet 78), Brownlie (Heron 85), Arthur. Substitutes not used: Johnstone.
Referee: Morag Pirie. Attendance: 1329.