Report by Graham Semple
A last-gasp equaliser by the outstanding Abigail Harrison secured a dramatic and vital point for Hibernian as they shared six goals with Glasgow City in a feverish top of the table clash at the Excelsior Stadium today.
Denise O’Sullivan gave City an early lead before two goals from Harrison put the visitors in front at the interval, however second half goals from Nicky Docherty and Lauren McMurchie appeared to put the Glasgow side on the brink of victory. There was a dramatic late twist though when the last meaningful kick of the game by Harrison completed her hat-trick and ensured another draw in a rip-roaring encounter between the two best sides in the country.
The beginning of the match was frantic as both sides looked to settle and dominate the midfield area. Harrison had the first real opportunity of the contest but Cheryl McCulloch was alert to the danger.
The opening goal arrived after seven minutes from the City number seven. A poor goal-kick from the Hibernian goalkeeper, Jenna Fife, put her team in trouble and Julie Fleeting played in O’Sullivan who curled a delightful right-foot shot from the edge of the box into the far corner.
Hibs responded well to the disappointment of falling behind and were soon back on level terms thanks to a wonderful individual effort from Harrison. The talented youngster evaded the close attention of Docherty with a clever dummy before driving infield and unleashing a left-foot shoot that sneaked in at the far corner beyond the reach of Lee Alexander.
The visitors were a constant menace throughout the first period with their movement and speed, and they edged ahead after a fluid team move. Lizzie Arnot was sent clear down the City right and she drilled a low and inviting cross into the box that was dispatched high into the net by Harrison.
City began to exert pressure on the Hibernian goal in an effort to respond and Leanne Ross saw a low shot saved well by the feet of the Hibs keeper.
The Edinburgh side had a glorious opportunity to increase their advantage on the stroke of half-time. Arnot was unmarked in the box and appeared certain to score as she rose to meet a corner however her header sailed over the crossbar.
City introduced Kerry Montgomery at the interval and she added steel to the midfield as the Scottish champions made an impressive start to the second period. They moved the ball quicker and played with greater intensity as the visitors struggled to stem City’s flow of attacks.
O’Sullivan and McMurchie both had headers tipped over the bar before City grabbed an equaliser. Docherty cut inside from the left and fired a dipping right-foot shot past the scrambling Hibernian goalkeeper: 2-2.
The momentum was with the Glasgow club and they were the width of a post away from moving ahead two minutes later. A dangerous cross from the industrious O’Sullivan was diverted onto the woodwork by Hayley Lauder.
City’s perseverance eventually paid off with quarter of an hour remaining. A Leanne Ross corner wasn’t properly cleared and McMurchie – with space and time – calmly sent a right-foot shot into the far corner.
Having worked hard to earn the lead, City dropped deep, got players behind the ball and looked to hit on the counter-attack. Hibs flooded players forward and in the third minute of stoppage time they bagged an equaliser. Harrison latched onto a long ball over the top to beat the advancing Alexander and tap into the unguarded net to salvage a point.
Glasgow City: Alexander, McMurchie (Jones 87), Lauder (Shine 67), Love, O’Sullivan (Whyte 77), Docherty, McCulloch, Ross (c), Grant, Cuthbert, Fleeting (Montgomery 46)
Subs Not Used: Cunningham, Rafferty
Hibernian: Fife, Williamson, Hunter, Robertson, Arnot, Smith, Murray, Cornet (Michie 59), Harrison, Richards (Tweedie 88), Arthur
Subs Not Used: Johnstone, McMahon