An action packed SWPL1 Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle had the 3508 fans present on the edge of their seats till the final whistle in a fascinating fixture as Hearts went looking for revenge against capital rivals Hibs who had won the previous encounter at Easter Road, writes Derek Hall.
Hearts started brightly without really troubling Hibs keeper Emily Mutch but gradually the Easter Road side began to exert some midfield superiority and took the lead on 19 minutes after Lia Tweedie fouled Colette Cavanagh and Rachel Boyle’s touchline free-kick into the heart of the home penalty area eluded everyone and ended up in the back of the net with Hearts keeper Lisa Rodgers unable to adjust to make the save.
Hibs continued to press and after 33 minutes, Tegan Browning did well to turn a dangerous cross over her own crossbar but from the inswinging corner, Siobhan Hunter rose above everyone to power a header home and double the visitor’s advantage.
Three minutes from the interval Hearts had a chance to pull one back from a penalty after Leah Eddie palmed the ball off the line and referee Stephen Gill awarded the spot kick. Jennifer Smith stepped up but her effort was beaten away fairly comfortably by the diving Mutch.
A clearly fired up Hearts side emerged for the start of the second period and a series of corners peppered the Hibs penalty area with keeper Mutch doing well in the air to punch clear, as well as pulling off a good reaction save from a near post header from Tweedie.
Hearts pressure deservedly paid off after 65 minutes when McAneny drove forward before finding Tweedie and she rolled a lovely pass into the path of Erin Rennie who didn’t break stride as she controlled the ball with her first touch and then slammed a low 16 yard angled drive into the far corner for a debut goal against her former side.
Hibs weathered the onslaught and on 72 minutes, keeper Rodgers bravely saved at the feet of Boyle on the edge of Hearts box. Hibs substitute striker Eilidh Adams then showed good strength to hold off Browning and looked to be in on goal but a magnificent recovery tackle from the Hearts defender denied the striker a shot on goal, and Browning had impressed all night at the back for Hearts.
Three minutes from time, Hearts keeper Rodgers distinguished herself with a fantastic block from a thunderous 15 yard shot on the turn from Cavanagh but in the last minute, the Hearts keeper was helpless as Adams was first to react to a loose ball in the box and fired a low drive home from 14 yards to seal the Hibs victory.
The night was to end on a sad note for Adams who went down in the centre circle deep into stoppage time whilst on her own clutching her knee and she had to be carried from the field on a stretcher.
In the end, the Hibs players celebrated another derby win in front of their fans and will feel that they just about deserved it after a dominant first half performance.
Another excellent advert for women’s football in the capital and the excellent attendance once again showed the strides the domestic game is making at this level and the appetite Edinburgh football fans have for these games.