The SWPL Cup holders Hibernian reached the Quarter-Finals after overcoming a superb defensive performance by Hearts.
Hibs, who have been sufferring from an injury crisis, had the majority of the possession and chances but for the large part of the game failed to unlock Hearts’ defence. And when they looked like they could score, there was often a Hearts defender there to make a block or goalline clearance.
And Hearts showed a threat on the counter and could have gone into half-time in front, but eventually the tiredness felt and Hibs found a way through as Sharon McGregor scored her first goal for the club in the 75th minute. Two minutes later, they doubled their advantage through Lia Tweedie.
Hearts could have pulled a goal back but Laura Gavin’s shot was tipped around the post by Hannah Reid, and in the last minutes of the game, Hibs scored twice more – first with Katey Turner, and then Kirsty Smith scored a wonder goal.
Tweedie Hits Post
Hearts were clearly set up to soak up the pressure from Hibernian and try and create chances on the counter and the pattern of the game began straight from kick-off. It took until the seventh minute for Hibernian to create a chance, and they really should have taken the lead. Cailin Michie’s through-ball found Lucy Graham in the box, her back-heel set up Lia Tweedie but her shot hit the far post.
Soon after, Amy Gallacher saw her shot bravely blocked by Hearts’ captain Megan Paterson.
Hibernian were having so much of the ball in the Hearts’ half that they were almost playing a 3-2-5 formation and yet the best chances they created for a while came from crosses deflecting off Hearts’ players – but both times, keeper Ashley Watson was able to claim the ball.
Kirsty Smith and Lisa Robertson had long-range efforts that had to be saved but for a long time, the cup holders were struggling to open up the Hearts defence, often relying on crosses that were either overhit or headed clear.
But in the 38th minute, Hibs should have taken the lead. Kirsty Smith’s cross set up a golden chance on a plate for Lucy Graham, but she shot over the bar from about ten yards out.
With half-time approaching, Tweedie had another glorious chance but she could only head over at the near post.
Hearts Come Close To Surprise Lead
But with the last action of the first half, Hearts nearly took the lead. After clearing a Hibs’ corner, they launched a counter with a stunning through-ball from Dani Pagliarulo picking out Laura Gavin on the left-wing. She beat Cailin Michie to break into the box, but she overhit her cross with Hearts’ players lining up to score.
Hibernian came out in the second half determined to make the break-through, and Hearts’ defence had to put their bodies on the line at times in the opening minutes. Graham headed Michie’s cross just wide with Tweedie unable to turn the ball in at the far post. Then, when Kirsty Smith’s cross was spilt by the Hearts’ keeper, Amy Gallacher had her shot deflected behind for a corner.
Hearts Clear Ball Off Line
Then, Rachel McLauchlan’s cross picked out Kirsty Smith who looked like she would score from six-yards out, but Sharon Hughes made a superb goalline clearance. And then, Hibs had a loud appeal for a penalty but the referee determined that Hughes’ won the ball with her challenge on Lisa Robertson.
It was then Hearts’ turn to have a penalty appeal when they thought Kara Kidd’s cross came off a Hibs defender’s hand, but the officials were unmoved.
Once again, Hibernian had a shot cleared off the line. Shannon McGregor’s cross picked out Rachel McLauchlan, and her shot was parried by Watson – but the keeper needed Paterson to clear the ball off the line.
Hearts had a chance on the counter when Pam Liddle played Stacey Hutchison into the box, but the Hearts midfielder could not get the ball under control in the box.
McGregor Makes The Breakthrough
And then, Hibernian took the lead. A corner was not fully cleared, leading to a game of head tennis from which McGregor fired the ball into the back of the net, despite Kidd’s best attempt to clear the ball off the line.
Two minutes later, Hibs were 2-0 in front after Hearts failed to clear the ball and Tweedie scored from the edge of the box.
It could have been a third soon after, but Cailin Michie’s shot from the edge of the box hit the crossbar.
Gavin Denied By Hibs Keeper
Hearts then had two chances to pull a goal back in the final ten minutes with Michelle Stewart being denied by a great sliding tackle from Ellis Notley and then Laura Gavin having her shot tipped around the post by Hannah Reid.
But in the dying moments of the game, Hibs added two more goals. Kirsty Smith’s cross picked out Katey Turner who fired the ball past Watson and then the next minute, Kirsty Smith got onto the scoresheet with a stunning strike, curling the ball over Watson from the edge of the box.
Hearts: Watson; Anderson, Paterson, Hughes, Kidd; Pagliarulo, Mcavoy (Stewart 78), Jennifer Smith, Hutchison; Carse (Pam Liddle 54), Gavin.
Hibernian: Reid; Michie, Brownlie, Notley, Kirsty Smith; Graham (Cornet 80), Robertson, Gallacher (McGregor 61); McLauchlan (Napier 80), Tweedie, Turner.
Goals: McGregor 73, Tweedie 75, Turner 90, Kirsty Smith 90+1.