By alan campbell
Twelve months ago there was hope for Hibs, but not expectation, when they met Glasgow City in the trophy match. City were on their way to a tenth successive league title, but a 92nd-minute goal from Lizzie Arnot sparked euphoria and delivered a 2-1 win for the Edinburgh club.
“For the last few finals, Glasgow City have been the team to beat, and I’m sure now Celtic will be looking at us in the same way,” midfielder Small, pictured, said. “We’ve had two really close games against them this season, so I’m expecting a really tough challenge.”
Hibs, who are also the Scottish Cup holders, won both those games, the second as recently as Tuesday night at Lennoxtown. Celtic have added two American players, Jaclyn Poucel and Darcy McFarlane, to an already strong and physical squad epitomised by midfielders Kerry Montgomery and Natalie Ross.
What Celtic have lacked against the better sides is goals. That may be about to change as striker Suzanne Mulvey, who is strong and direct, has now returned to the club, while former Hibs forward Sarah Ewens has scored in her last two games to improve her goal rate.
Celtic have won just one trophy ever, and that was back in 2010 when they won the SWPL Cup, beating Spartans in the final. Captain Kelly Clark said: “Everybody is really up for it. I’ve never really seen the changing room like this to be honest.”
Hibs could have fit-again captain Joelle Murray back for the game, which is on the anniversary of the Hibs men’s team winning the Scottish Cup, as well as experienced midfielder Lisa Robertson, who has also been injured.
Teenage striker Lia Tweedie, who head coach Chris Roberts rates highly, is also on the mend. That unfortunately can’t be said for last year’s match-winner Arnot, who could be out for the season with an ACL knee injury.
“She’s devastated, and it’s hard to replace her,” Small admitted. “She’s a game-changer and going into this campaign she was going to be a top, top player for us.”