HIBERNIAN LADIES manager Willie Kirk refused to point the finger of blame towards goalkeeper Shannon Lynn after her last-minute own goal cost Hibs dearly in the SWF Scottish Cup final.
It was a cruel and heart-breaking end to a dramatic afternoon for the Hibees and came after they had withstood all that Glasgow City could throw at them with extra time only seconds away.
In the end, the only goal of the game came from an unlikely source as the luckless Lynn – who had been in sensational form all afternoon for the Edinburgh side – made a mess of a late Jess Fishlock corner to fumble the ball into her own net and gift victory to her opponents.
“Sometimes in football it comes down to very fine lines and that was unfortunately the case for us,” said a devastated, but proud, Kirk.
“You can be lucky and get a break that goes for you or you can be unlucky with a break or a bounce which can undo all your hard work.
“I’m absolutely gutted for Shannon because it’s probably her only mistake in four years.
“She has been incredible for us in that time, so she was probably due a mistake, but no-one will be blaming her because we win and lose as a team.
“We came with a game plan, we stuck to it and I thought the longer the game went the more we grew in confidence.
“I think everyone thought that extra time was on the cards and we were hoping to capitalise on City’s fatigue after their midweek match against Arsenal, but it wasn’t to be.”
Kirk had asked his players to dig in, to be patient and to frustrate their opponents and his side responded with an incredibly mature performance.
City, as expected, had the vast majority of opportunities throughout the 90 minutes, but time and again they were thwarted by a spirited Hibernian side prepared to put their bodies on the line to defend their goal.
The first real effort of the afternoon came on 22 minutes when Suzanne Lappin headed the ball into the path of Ruesha Littlejohn from Fishlock’s cross and the former Liverpool striker hit it first time only to see her powerful drive acrobatically pushed over by Lynn.
The Hibs keeper was in action soon after when she saved a snapshot from Fishlock, before gathering a long-range effort from Eilish McSorley.
The Easter Road girls had rarely been seen as an attacking threat during the first period, yet incredibly went into the break level thanks to their ability to soak up the City pressure by defending deep and in numbers.
The second period would follow a similar pattern with City probing for an opening whilst Hibs looked to hit on the counter attack.
Ten minutes after the interval, Lappin missed a glorious opportunity to finally break the Hibees resolve when she headed a Rachel Corsie cross wide of goal despite being left unmarked at the back post.
City goalkeeper Danica Dalziel had to be alert to race from her goal to thwart Susan Fairlie before Joelle Murray’s effort was blocked by Julie Nelson as Hibs finally went on the offensive.
Scottish champions City haven’t been used to not getting it all their own way this season and appeared to be running out of ideas before Lynn’s late lapse of concentration proved fatal to the Hibees hopes.
Hibs had an opportunity right at the death to snatch an equaliser, but substitute Zoe Johnstone was unable to guide the ball beyond Dalziel in the City goal.
Kirk commented: “I think Zoe got too much on it rather than just let it bounce off her and go in. The effort the girls put in was incredible and there was not a failure amongst them. I am gutted for them because they gave me everything and didn’t deserve to lose in such a cruel fashion.
“Over the course of the season it has been a fantastic effort from every one of the girls and a fantastic development year too.
“What is guaranteed is that Glasgow City will remember that Hibernian performance and that is important for next season.”
Hibs: Lynn, Brown, Arnot, Fairlie, Hunter, Kaney, J. Murray, L. Murray, Smith, Walkingshaw (Johnstone), Williamson. Substitutes not used: Fife, Reid, Kawana-Waugh, Laverty, McConnell, Turner.
Glasgow City: Dalziel, Corsie (Ross), Crichton (Crilly), Docherty, Fishlock, Lappin, Littlejohn (Robertson), McSorley, Murray (Black), Nelson, O’Sullivan (Love). Subs not used: Alexander, Pagliarulo.