Murieston hang on as Hibees fall just short

MURIESTON UNITED picked up end-of-season silverware as they narrowly edged past Hibs in the South East Region Girls Under-15 League Cup final at Dunbar.

The Livingston team managed to keep their cool throughout at New Countess Park as Hibs continually threatened a comeback, but the Capital side didn't quite have enough to claw the game back as the West Lothian club triumphed 4-3.

It was a frustrating day for Hibs, who endured numerous knocks and injuries, stalling their play and stunting their momentum.

Indeed, it was Murieston who enjoyed most of the openings in the early stages of the first half, with the jinking Rachael Gourlay a constant threat down the right wing. Clear chances were in short supply, however, as both sides seemed to take time settling into the match, restricting much of their attacking play to speculative digs from range.

Fourteen minutes into the game, however, Murieston opened the scoring as Gourlay seared down the wing and turned a defender in the box before cutting back to Danielle Falconer, who slotted the ball past Hibs goalkeeper Anna Vincenti.

Kirsten Frew almost doubled Murieston's advantage soon after, smacking the ball against the crossbar after being played through on goal and Falconer could only head the rebound into the goalkeeper's arms.

Hibs were unable to produce the deadly breakaways that punctuated their opponents' attacks, but managed to conjure some promising play through Ashley Fish. A spell of Hibs pressure paid off eventually, with Christie Kerr lofting the ball over the goalkeeper with a speculative shot, restoring parity between the teams.

Buoyed by their upturn in fortunes, Fish nearly nudged Hibs in front with a long drive which rebounded off the crossbar, while a classic long ball up the park led to confusion in the Murieston defence but, amid the resulting scramble in the box, the ball was eventually cleared.

By half-time, the score remained level with each team having enjoyed spells of superiority but with Murieston having showed more invention and ingenuity, in particular on the flanks.

Five minutes after the restart, Murieston regained the lead through Frew, who found herself through on goal after a lapse in the Hibs defence and slotted the ball to the right of the goalkeeper and into the net.

Injuries and knocks were taking their toll on Hibs but they mustered a decent chance to equalise after an excellent flighted ball from Natasha McMahon on the right wing found its way to Fish, who could only blast the ball over.

They were made to rue that miss as Murieston increased their lead to 3-1 with a glancing header from Lauren Evans, highlighting her side's threat from corners and set-pieces.But Hibs responded immediately, Chloe McMillan collecting a loose ball in the box and stabbing goalwards, reducing the deficit to 3-2.

There was little time to celebrate for Hibs as a game that started off turgid and tense began to flow with goals. Falconer ran onto a hopeful punt as Hibs' defence was split too easily, and she notched her second of the game by stroking the ball past the goalkeeper.

Moments later, Hibs' Christie Kerr ensured a nailbiting finish by taking advantage of goalmouth confusion and smashing the ball into the net from close range to take the score to 4-3 in Murieston's favour.

Hibs manager Matty Hunter said: "We're just disappointed to be beaten but the better team won. It was a great game and well done to Murieston."

Murieston Utd: Jenna Fife, Leah Cutkelvin, Fiona Boslem, Jayde Conroy, Rachael Brown, Kirsten Frew, Danielle Falconer, Kayleigh McConnell, Katie Morrison, Rachael Gourlay, Lauren Evans, Lisa Whitefield, Demi Falconer, Corey Young.

Hibs: Anna Vincenti, Shannon Leishman, Christie Kerr, Lara Falconer, Eve Hunter, Simone McMahon, Natasha McMahon, Ashley Fish, Robyn Pick, Bianca Murphy, Caitlin Darge, Lyndsey Peterson, Toni Bertram, Chloe McMillan, Lisa Riddell.

"We're just disappointed to be beaten but the better team won. Well done to Murieston"