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Match Report by Edmund Brown




Hibernian claimed all three points in the Scottish Women’s Premier League encounter with Spartans by beating the capital club 2-0 at Albyn Park, Broxburn.

However it was the losing team, Spartans, who dominated the 90 minutes and could quite easily have won this match but for three great saves by Shannon Lynn, the woodwork on two occasions and two penalty claims waved away by referee Mathilde Peace.

It was against the run of play that Hibs took the lead midway through the first half with Joelle Murray curling in a free-kick from just outside the area and into the bottom corner of the net. And Hibs managed to secure the victory five minutes from time with Caroline Weir latching onto a rebound to fire into an empty net after Rachel Harrison had saved the initial Laura Kennedy shot.

With only three minutes of the game played, Hibs had to call upon the services of keeper Shannon Lynn who pulled off a great save with her right foot from a Louise Mason shot. Sarah Ewens charged down the right wing, driving past two players before cutting in and feeding Mason through a field of players. Mason, who had timed her run perfectly to beat the offside trap, sent a powerful diagonal right foot drive towards the bottom left hand corner only to see the outstretched right boot of Lynn block the goal-bound shot and away from danger.

Spartans were again testing the Hibs goal a minute later with Lana Clelland unleashing a fierce right foot shot that flew inches past the left hand post. Clelland picked up a long up field pass from Chloe Fitzpatrick on the left wing and after fainting to go outside Frankie Brown she dipped infield and sent a thunderous drive that just failed to hit the target.

Hibs first sight of the Spartans goal came ten minutes in with Scottish Internationalist Joelle Murray sending a long range effort into the hands of Harrison. Kirsty McLaughlin, playing against her former teammates, picked the ball up just inside the Spartans half and fed it to Murray out wide on the left. The Hibs winger then cut in onto her right foot and sent a fierce shot towards goal only to see it easily collected by Harrison.

It was however Spartans who continued to create the better of the opportunities and with 15 minutes gone the Edinburgh side were awarded a free-kick just outside the box after Diana Barry was pushed in the back as she brought the ball down out of the air. Up-stepped Clelland to curl a left foot shot around the wall but it went straight into the hands of Lynn.

Within five minutes of this Spartans chance, and against the run of play, the West Lothian side took the lead with Murray curling in a right foot free-kick into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Laura Kennedy was tussling for the ball on the edge of the Spartans area with Victoria Farquhar with the centre-half adjudged to have fouled the striker 20 yards from goal. Murray lined up to strike sending a fierce right foot shot around the wall and into the bottom corner past the helpless Harrison.

Half an hour into the game and Spartans themselves were awarded a free-kick in a similar position to the Hibs goal as Ewens was fouled by Hollie Thomson after the forward had latched onto a loose Hibs pass and charged towards goal. Molly McKean stepped up however her right foot shot curled away from goal and past the left hand post without troubling the keeper.

Hibs were starting to get chances on the break, a result of Spartans pushing for that all important equaliser and ten minutes before half time Murray skipped through on goal with only the Keeper to beat. However Harrison expertly narrowed the angle and the strikers shot was played off the chest of the Spartans Number 1 and cleared by the defence. Thomson started the move in central midfield and played the ball out wide to Kirsty Smith who swiftly played the ball to McLaughlin. The Hibs Number 7 looked up and slipped the ball through to Murray who had managed to peel away from the Spartans defence. As she bore down on goal she tried an audacious chip over the advancing keeper but Harrison stood tall and blocked the shot with her chest.

Six minutes before half time it was again the turn of Lynn to save her team as, at full stretched, she tipped a Barry shot around the post. Farquhar floated a free-kick into the box from the half way line towards the head of centre-half Crosbie. The Spartans Number 4 knocked the ball into the path of Barry who, from the edge of the box, sent a thunderbolt of a right foot drive towards the top corner only to see Lynn, at full stretch, fingertip the ball around the post for a corner.

Moments later it was the woodwork that prevented Spartans from getting their equaliser as, from a corner, Mason latched onto a loose ball and, as three Hibs players charged towards her she unleashed a dipping right foot shot only to see the ball crash off the bar. Clelland sent over a corner towards the far post which was headed back across goal by Crosbie to the feet of Mason who could only look in wonder as her shot smashed of the bar and away from danger, just as the striker was about to celebrate what would have been her first goal of the season.

Three minutes before half time and again Spartans hit the bar with Barry smashing a dipping half volley over the stranded keeper Lynn and off the frame of the goal. Mason charged down a loose ball on the left wing and on the turn flicked the ball into the path of Barry who, after looking up and seeing Lynn off her line, sent a half volley over the Hibs Number 1 only to see the ball come crashing back off the bar and away from danger.

And as the referee was about to blow for half time Spartans were appealing for a penalty as Barry appeared to be pushed in the back by Emma Brownlie. Barry brought the ball down from a Bobbie Beveridge throw-in and, as the striker cut inside, she went to ground after what appeared to be a push in the back. However the referee waved play on much to the annoyance of the Edinburgh side.

Within minutes of the restart the away side again came close to bringing the game back on level terms with Ewens sliding in only to see her flick towards goal shoot wide of the target. Danni Pagliarulo sent a driving cross field pass to Clelland who proceeded to cut inside the fullback before firing over a looping ball to the back post where Ewens went sliding in at full stretch only to see the ball fly wide of the mark.

Just before the hour mark Lynn was again the Hibs saviour as she dived down low to get a firm hand to a Crosbie header with the ball looking to be heading just inside the post. Ewens fired in a swerving shot from outside the box which deflected off the foot of Siobhan Hunter and whistled past the post for a corner. Clelland swung the cross to the far post where Crosbie leapt above everybody else only to see her downward header saved by the outstretched hand of Lynn.

Two minutes later and it was Spartans who were saved by the woodwork as Emslie’s shot cracked off the frame of the goal after some great passing by the home side’s midfield. Caroline Weir moved the ball swiftly from right to left, bringing substitute Susan Fairlie into play. Fairlie then found Emslie on the edge of the box and, after gaining a yard, she sent a thunderous right foot shot that smashed off the bar and away from danger.

However this opportunity was against the run of play within five minutes Ewens was through on goal only to be thwarted again by the outstanding Lynn. Crosbie, who had broken up a Hibs attack, swiftly moved up field before firing over a diagonal ball to Barry who fed a through ball to Ewens who had timed her run to perfection to stay onside and get past the Hibs defence. The Spartans striker, with only the keeper to beat, decided to round the Hibs Number 1 but Lynn read the situation and stuck a strong right out to prevent a certain goal.

With 75 minutes on the clock Spartans were again claiming for a penalty as Clelland felt she was being held back as she tried to get past the defence, however the referee waved away the appeals.

And as Spartans continued to push for that decisive equaliser, Hibs sealed the victory with Weir tapped the ball home into an empty net. Hibs broke up a Spartans attack with five minutes to go and sped up-field through Captain Kennedy who managed to skip inside one challenge before unleashing a thunderous right foot shot. Harrison, who had narrowed the angle, palmed the shot away only to see it land at the feet of Weir who fired into an empty net.    

Spartans Head Coach Debbi McCulloch was pleased with her team’s performance and felt her team deserved something from the game. She said: “It was probably the best football we have played all season and to come away with nothing is very disappointing. I said to the girls to take the positives from the game and we learn from it and I believe it will only make us stronger. I believe that we should have had two penalties and it was disappointing not to get the decision but sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes you don’t. I have told the girls to hold their heads up high as I though their performance was fantastic tonight.”




Hibs: Shannon Lynn, Emma Brownlie, Frankie Brown, Hollie Thomson (Kelsey Campbell 90mins), Kirsty McLaughlin, Caroline Weir, Kirsty Smith (Susan Fairlie 45mins), Claire Emslie (Rachel Walkingshaw 85mins), Siobhan Hunter (Rebecca Zoltie 60mins, Joelle Murray, Laura Kennedy (Lizzie Arnot 85mins)

Unused substitutes: Hanna Reid, Kirsty Montignani

Spartans: Rachel Harrison, Bobbie Beveridge, Victoria Farquhar, Claire Crosbie, Chloe Fitzpatrick, Molly McKean, Danni Pagliarulo (Louise Magilton 65mins), Louise Mason (Rebecca Galbraith 70mins), Lana Clelland, Sarah Ewens, Diana Barry

Unused Substitutes: Jo Hutcheson, Sarah Archibald, Ashley Nicolson, Louise Moultray, Louise Young



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