The SWPL top of the table clash between Glasgow City and Hibernian lived up to its billing today as both sides shared six goals in a thrilling 3-3 draw at K Park in East Kilbride.
Hayley Lauder gave City the lead with a fine strike midway through the first half but the visitors responded with goals from Heather Richards and Lizzie Arnot to hold the lead at the interval. Fiona Brown grabbed a brace to put City back in front however a late own goal from the unfortunate Cheryl McCulloch gave the Edinburgh side a share of the spoils.
The young Hibs side made a bright and energetic start to the match. They forced City to retreat with a high-intensity pressing game, and their shoot on sight policy brought Lee Alexander into action on a number of occasions.
Gradually City began to make a meaningful impression in the final third and both Rhonda Jones and Abbi Grant had attempts on target, but neither effort seriously troubled the Hibernian goalkeeper, Jenna Fife.
The first goal of the game arrived after 23 minutes. Erin Cuthbert laid the ball into the path of Lauder who instinctively fired an exquisite shot beyond Fife to give City the lead.
Hibs responded well and flooded players forward in an attempt to restore parity. With 28 minutes on the clock the visitors were back on level terms when a hard and low shot by Richards skidded off the rain-sodden pitch and beyond the despairing Alexander.
The momentum was now with the Edinburgh side and they moved in front six minutes before half-time when a run and shot from Arnot appeared to be deflected past the helpless Alexander.
The second-half was just two minutes old when City equalised. Abbi Grant did well to win possession before Brown stormed through the Hibs defence and unleashed an unstoppable right-foot shot that skimmed off the woodwork and into the net.
City now had fresh impetus and they took the lead for the second time in the match after 67 minutes. Kerry Montgomery found substitute, Susan Fairlie, in space, and the forward drilled a low and teasing ball across the box which was duly diverted into the net by Brown at full stretch: 3-2
Hibs continued to fight and they pushed players forward in attempt to salvage a point, and with six minutes remaining they squandered a glorious chance. An inviting cross from Chloe Arthur found the unmarked Abbi Harrison, but her volleyed effort hit the base of the post and the opportunity was gone.
Hibs were not disheartened though, and they managed a dramatic late equaliser with three minutes left. A barnstorming run and low cross by the impressive Richards was diverted into the net by City’s McCulloch and the visitors had the goal they craved.
In the remaining minutes City went in search of a last-gasp winner, but there was to be no further scoring as this engrossing physical battle drew to a close.
This was an enthralling and competitive spectacle between the two best sides in Scotland and there will be much to savour when the teams meet again in the Scottish League Cup final on June 3rd.
A frustrated City Head Coach, Eddie Wolecki Black felt his team should have held on for an important three points. He said, "I think that in the first half Hibs were deserving of their lead. We didn't start the match all that well and probably went ahead against the run of play. Once they equalised I felt we came into the game and ironically during our best spell we lost a second goal. In the second half we came out strong and when we go 3-2 up I don't expect us to drop points. It is a disappointed dressing room today knowing they have blown the win with just a few minutes to go."
Glasgow City: Alexander, Docherty, Black (c), McCulloch, Jones, Cuthbert (Ross, 62), Love, Montgomery (McMurchie, 82), Lauder (O’Sullivan, 73), Grant (Fairlie, 58), Brown
Substitutes: Cunningham, Rafferty
Hibernian: Fife, Murray, Hunter, Smith, Brownlie, Robertson, Graham, Arthur, Richards, Arnot, Harrison
Substitutes: Reid, Cornet, Johnstone, McMahon, Tweedie, Williamson