SWPL: Hibernian beat Celtic to narrow gap on Glasgow City

Hibernian's Abi Harrison
Abi Harrison scored twice to seal victory for Hibs

Hibernian closed the gap on Scottish Women's Premier League leaders Glasgow City to two points with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Celtic at Easter Road.

Ruesha Littlejohn chipped Celtic ahead but Katey Turner fired Hibs level before the break.

Littlejohn was sent off after picking up a second booking for dissent, and Abi Harrison took advantage of the extra space to put Hibs in front.

Harrison then added a third late on as Celtic tired.

Ainslie Park is Hibs' usual venue but they were given use of Easter Road for the evening in what was head coach Chris Roberts' final home match in charge.

Roberts will take up a new role at Bristol City as first team coach and technical director after next week's game with Aberdeen.

Harrison looked certain to give the home fans an early goal when she pounced on a loose pass and found herself one on one with the goalkeeper.

However, Cheryl McCulloch did brilliantly to get back and challenge, although Harrison did manage to pull the ball back for Lisa Robertson, who side-footed wide.

An audacious effort from Jamie-Lee Napier almost gave Celtic a stunning opener. The 17-year-took aim from an angle outside the box and saw her shot beat the goalkeeper but thump off the post.

But, 20 minutes in, Celtic did take the lead. Littlejohn raced on to Kirsty Howat's through ball and coolly chipped goalkeeper Jenna Fife.

After four defeats out of four against Hibs this season, the goal meant a lot to David Haley's side, but Hibs took just four minutes to level.

Turner cut inside her marker and hammered in a shot which goalkeeper Megan Cunningham got to but could not hold, and it squirmed beneath her over the line.

Harrison headed just wide from a Turner cross and Rachael Small and Turner both threatened as Hibs took control of the game.

It was Celtic who should have re-taken the lead, though, when Courtney Whyte cracked a long shot from near the centre circle off the bar, with Howat first to the rebound but hitting it straight at goalkeeper Fife.

Turner was in the mood for Hibs and she bamboozled two defenders but shot into the side netting.

Celtic were defending well, but Littlejohn's dismissal made the last 20 minutes more difficult and their resistance was soon broken.

Harrison found a gap between the two centre-halves and slotted home.

And Harrison added a third when she stepped inside her marker and finished from close range.

Siobhan Hunter had a header cleared off the line for Hibs, but a fourth goal would have been harsh on the visitors.

Post-match reaction

Hibernian head coach Chris Roberts: "The way Celtic started they were so well organised, pressed high. David's (Haley) teams are always hard to play against and you could see they were well drilled and hungry at the start of the game. It took us a bit of time to get used to that.

"In the second half I thought we were fantastic; dominated the game. But Celtic are always a tough team and to get five victories against them this season is a real coup for us.

"I only took Katey Turner off at the end for a rest because she's been brilliant for us. She held the ball up well, ran the line, ran the channel well, and she's got that bit of quality. What I like about Katey is she keeps shooting, it doesn't matter if she misses she'll go again.

"It means a lot to the girls to play at Easter Road. There's a lot of big Hibs fans there, it means a lot to the fans and it certainly means a lot to me to come and play at such a fantastic venue. Those are the kind of memories the girls will remember, and the girls are really happy that they've had that opportunity. That was my last home game so it was really nice to have it here."

Celtic head coach David Haley: "I thought we gave everything. After we scored I felt if we could have held on for a bit longer or until half-time without conceding then we might have had a better chance, but it wasn't to be and Hibs have taken their chances.

"The red card makes it more difficult for us, I don't know if it's changed the game. It obviously limited us to things that we could do. We couldn't press as high or as hard.

"It's been good the last four or fives weeks and we've brought that into tonight's game. We had lots of energy, lots of pressing. We knew we would have to work hard tonight and the girls done that. But I can't fault them for what they've done - we've created chances, we should have went 2-1 up, but Hibs have taken their chances and that's football."