Report by Graham Semple.
Glasgow City have retained the Scottish League Cup after a dramatic 2-1 extra-time win over Hibernian at Ainslie Park in Edinburgh.
A Heather Richards wonder-strike from 45 yards gave the Hibees a sensational lead but deep into the second half Kerry Montgomery nodded home a close range header to equalise for City. Extra-time was just three minutes old when Susan Fairlie fired home the decisive goal to give the Glasgow side their seventh League Cup and twelfth domestic trophy in a row.
It was a scrappy start to the match as both sides battled for midfield supremacy but gradually Hibernian began to make headway. The first real chance came after quarter of an hour when a wicked Lizzie Arnot corner was headed against the bar by Abi Harrison.
The young side from the capital had fired an early warning and it was they who grabbed the lead. Richards gathered the ball in space just inside the City half and fired an unstoppable right-foot shot that dipped over the helpless Lee Alexander and into the net.
The Edinburgh side were now brimming with confidence and they continued to flood players forward but City held firm and slowly began to make an impression. Abbi Grant had a curling shot comfortably saved by Jenna Fife and Nicky Docherty had an effort scrambled off the line when Hibs struggled to deal with a Hayley Lauder corner, but City’s usual precise and fluid possession football was not on show in a frustrating first half and they trailed at the interval.
In the second half City played a high line and pushed and pressed Hibernian back but they continued to struggle to unlock their opponents’ well-drilled and organised defence. Jo Love cracked the bar with a free-kick and Lauder had a goal-bound effort blocked, but the much-sought after equaliser continued to evade the Glasgow side.
Midway through the second half City introduced Leanne Ross and Erin Cuthbert for Lauder and Jones and both made a positive impression in the middle of the park. The range of passing and vision of the captain and the energy and drive of the youngster gave the Scottish champions a spark, and eventually their sustained pressure told.
With thirteen minutes remaining Ross whipped in an inviting free-kick and Montgomery was in the right place to head the ball home to give City a deserved equaliser. Cuthbert then had a shot drift wide but extra-time was required to settle this tense final.
The decisive goal in this hard-fought contest was scored by Fairlie three minutes into the first half of extra time. The forward picked the ball up on the right side, cut inside on her left foot and fired a low shot beyond Fife and into the far corner: 2-1.
Hibs, who had spent the majority of the second half defending, had looked weary towards the end of normal time, and they now had to push forward in an effort to keep their Cup hopes alive. The chance they had been waiting for arrived with five minutes to go when Kirsty Smith raced through on goal, but she dragged her right-foot shot wide and a glorious opportunity had gone.
City had a chance to add a third in the dying moments when Denise O’Sullivan sent Fairlie in on goal but the former Hibs attacker saw her effort saved. A late injury for Ross meant a sustained period of injury time, but City held firm and grabbed yet more silverware.
City Head Coach Eddie Wolecki Black was delighted with his team and victory. Speaking straight after the game, he said, "It is always good to get the first trophy in the bag there is no doubt about that. No matter what happens I think people will always look back on this club and see just how special this has been. This is our twelfth trophy on the bounce and this group of players who have been with us over the years deserve in my opinion the accolades which I feel they often don't seem to get.
"Hibs put up a good battle and put on a really good show. They made it difficult for us in the League tie a few weeks ago and we learned from that. I said to the players at half time that if we equalise we will win the game, we just needed to get that equaliser. It showed you, Leanne's delivery and Kerry is on the end of it and from there on and to be honest from the second half itself, I thought we were the better side by far. I thought we showed a real professionalism to see the game out at 2-1 and now we look forward to Sunday's League match against Forfar.
Glasgow City: Alexander, Black, McCulloch (McMurchie 114), Jones (Cuthbert 69), Docherty, Love, Lauder (Ross 67, Rafferty 120), Grant, Montgomery, O’Sullivan, Fairlie
Subs Not Used: Cunningham, Lappin
Hibernian: Fife, Brownlie, Hunter, Murray, Smith, Robertson, Richards (Tweedie 96), Arthur, Harrison (Williamson 70), Arnot, Graham
Subs Not Used: Reid, Johnstone, Cornet, Lynch, McMahon