An inspired Fiona Brown helped Glasgow City laid down a title marker as they beat their rivals Hibernian 2-0. The game was heavily anticipated since the start of the season as these are the two sides expected to fight for the SWPL 1 title. And perhaps that explained why the opening exchanges were cagey, with neither side looking to make a mistake.
But the game came to life when Fiona Brown broke down the left and drilled the ball across the six-yard box, and Hibs’ Emma Brownlie diverted the ball into her own net.
There was a real concern for Brown, who had only just made her comeback from a serious knee injury when she went down injured in the second half. But she was able to continue, and she assisted the second when she picked out Sarah Crilly whose header beat Hibs’ keeper Jenna Fife.
City deserved the win, and Hibs will be disappointed to have never really got started. The result sees City extend their lead at the top to six points, whilst Hibs drop down to third.
The opening twenty minutes was full of moments where both sides got into dangerous attacking positions but just couldn’t pick out the final player. Early on, Hibs had a free-kick that caused City trouble in their box, but eventually, Savannah McCarthy was able to clear. And City had a corner which found Julie Fleeting, but she failed to get enough contact on her header to trouble the Hibs’ keeper Jenna Fife.
But as the game drew on, City was starting to get a foothold in the game. After Brown drew the foul from Clare Williamson, Ross curled in a free-kick to the far post where McCarthy headed wide.
And then City took the lead. A delightful cross-field ball picked out Brown, she beat her marker and drove the ball across the six-yard box, looking for Fleeting, but the unlucky Brownlie diverted the ball into her own net.
They could have doubled their lead soon after as Erin Cuthbert beat her marker to break into the box, but her shot was well saved by Fife at the near post.
A clever City corner caught out the Hibs defence but they reacted in time to divert Brown’s shot wide.
Perseverance from both Fleeting and Brown nearly created the second, but Ruesha Littlejohn was centimetres away from getting onto Brown’s cross.
And then Brown played Cuthbert into the Hibs box, but under pressure from Brownlie’s sliding tackle, shot wide.
In the 39th minute, Hibs finally created a chance. City’s keeper Gemma Fay came and missed Lisa Robertson’s free-kick, the ball fell to Brownlie, but she saw her shot deflected wide by alert City defending.
At half-time, Hibs made a tactical change, bring Sarah Ewens on for Williamson and Abi Harrison moving to the right-wing where she turned out to be far more effective.
City could have extended their lead early on in the second half. Leanne Ross played a corner short to Cuthbert whose cross picked out Fleeting but, off-balance, she couldn’t stab the ball home. Littlejohn then had her shot blocked and when space opened up for Cuthbert, she scuffed her shot wide.
Hibs nearly had an opening when Lizzie Arnot played Ewens into the City box, but when she tried to move the ball onto her right foot, her touch was too heavy which allowed City to clear.
Then Ewens should have done better when Harrison’s cross picked out Ewens, but she mistimed her jump and headed over.
When Hibs won a corner in the 61st minute, there was a long delay as Brown had gone down in pain in the Hibs half, requiring physio. It looked like City were bringing on Sarah Crilly, but Brown was able to continue. When Hibs eventually took the corner, they nearly equalised. Arnot’s delivery was diverted goalwards by City’s captain Ross, but in the resulting scramble, no Hibs player could divert it over the line and eventually City could clear.
Crilly did come on, but for Littlejohn and she soon found herself on the scoresheet, two minutes after coming on. Brown’s outstanding cross picked out Crilly and her header found the bottom-left corner.
Only a superb save stopped City from making it 3-0. A City corner was cleared only as far as Cuthbert who beat her defender, and then from 35 yards fired the ball towards the top corner, only to be denied by Fife’s flying save.
Late on, tenacious play from Brown drew a mistake from Brownlie, but her shot was saved by Fife – denying the City forward the goal her performance deserved.
Player of the Match
Fiona Brown (Glasgow City). She terrorised the Hibs’ defence all game and deserved a goal for her efforts.