SWPL: Hibs overcome Celtic to remain top of the table

Hibernian's Rachael Small
Rachael Small opened the scoring for Hibernian

Three second-half goals gave injury-hit Hibernian a crucial win against Scottish Women's Premier League rivals Celtic.

Rachael Small and Abi Harrison scored in quick succession before Natalie Ross pulled one back for the home side from the penalty spot.

However, Katey Turner finished from close range to seal the points.

Hibs remain two points clear of Glasgow City and Spartans, who both won away, while Rangers beat Aberdeen.

City overcame Hamilton Academical while Spartans defeated Stirling University.

Form sides

Hibernian arrived on the west coast deprived of Scotland duo Lizzie Arnot and Joelle Murray. It handed a huge initiative to Celtic with both clubs keen to end Glasgow City's 10-year stranglehold on the league title.

It did not show in a scrappy first half with neither side taking the early initiative. Emma Brownlie had a free-kick well held by Celtic goalkeeper Megan Cunningham, before Jaclyn Poucel cut inside and forced a fine save at the other end, but it took until 30 minutes in before the game became a real contest.

The tenacious Turner was beginning to be a handful for the Celtic defence, and she squeezed the ball through for Harrison to knock the ball over the line, but it was ruled offside.

Then came two golden chances in as many minutes for Hibs. Kirsty Smith nipped into the box from the left-hand side and Cunningham was at full stretch to push the full-back's powerful shot away.

Then Small sent Turner through and she held off her marker only to shoot wide.

Celtic were holding on, but they should have been ahead on the stroke of half-time. Kerry Montgomery picked out Kirsty Howat on the edge of the six-yard box, but with just the goalkeeper to beat she lifted her effort over the bar.

It was a big moment, and one Celtic were left to rue when Hibs found the clinical prowess that had seen them knock in 27 goals in their previous five games.

Small raced to meet Amy Gallacher's low cross at the near post. She saw her initial shot hit the post, but was quicker than goalkeeper Cunningham to the rebound and nudged it over the line.

Celtic tried an instant reply with Courtney Whyte heading wide, but within two minutes they were 2-0 behind.

Brownlie's long ball forward met the head of Harrison, who had her back to goal but was able to steer it away past Cunningham.

Now it was all one-way traffic, including a Harrison volley off the post.

Celtic brought on Heather Richards with 25 minutes to go in a bid to turn the game in their favour, and within six minutes they had a penalty when Brownlie needlessly pushed over Howat in the box, Ross calmly converting.

However, Hibs restored their two-goal advantage when Turner was picked out by Harrison, swivelled, and fired past Cunningham.

'Outstanding Hibs'

Hibernian coach Chris Roberts was delighted with how his side coped with the threat of Celtic, ahead of the SWPL Cup semi-final with Glasgow City.

"We've got a lot of injuries just now, big name players, and I thought the squad stood up," said Roberts. "It's great to see them step up, they were outstanding. I think that's probably the best Celtic team I've seen in a long time.

"We set up to limit them to very little. We knew set plays, they would be dangerous but in terms of open play we did that. We tried to make their play predictable and we did that as well.

"In the first half we missed a handful of really big chances. The first half was almost perfect, and the start to the second half was great and all that credit has to go to the girls."

Buchan v Jeanfield
Buchan defeated Jeanfield Swifts 5-2 in SWPL 2

Results

SWPL 1

Celtic 1-3 Hibernian

Hamilton Academical 1-3 Glasgow City

Rangers 1-0 Aberdeen

Stirling University 0-1 Spartans

SWPL 2

Buchan 5-2 Jeanfield Swifts

East Fife 0-4 Glasgow Girls

Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale 0-3 Motherwell

Hearts 1-1 Forfar Farmington

Jen Dodds and Ashley Carse
Jen Dodds celebrates her first-half goal with Ashley Carse in Hearts' 1-1 draw

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