Spartans finished their 2014 SWPL season in 4thplace after a last day Derby defeat at home to Hibs, writes Mark Brown
The club were delighted to welcome members from the Jason Skinner Foundation to Ainslie Park along with Alison Johnstone MSP as the curtain came down on the league campaign.
A bumper crowd witnessed an action packed encounter in the Autumn sunshine where both sides were keen to end the season on a high.
It was advantage Hibs as early as the 5th minute, with Kirsty Smith finding a way past fellow Scotland squad colleague Rachel Harrison to put the visitors 0-1 ahead.
A sweeping move from defence to attack gave Lana Clelland an opportunity to level proceedings however her shot failed to trouble Fife in the Hibs goal.
Hibs almost doubled their lead when Katey Turner saw her shot cannon off the post and unceremoniously launched to safety by a grateful Spartans defender.
Tackles were fast, furious – and at times somewhat agricultural – in what was a fiercely competitive end of season encounter. Alana Marshall required attention after a challenge just outside her own 18 yard box.
It was the woodwork’s chance to rescue the visitors as the game drifted towards half-time. Lana Clelland’s trickery created herself an opportunity however her audacious attempt hit the base of Fife’s post.
Moments later, and two minutes into injury time, it was all square. A corner kick met the head of Claire Crosbie who leaped head and shoulders above the Hibs defence to power the ball home.
Spartans looked as if they’d managed to get into the sheds at the break on level pegging however a last gasp strike by Lisa Robertson edged Hibs back in front, some four minutes into time added on.
Half Time: Spartans 1-2 Hibs
There were loud and animated appeals for penalty kicks on and off the pitch, not once – but twice – from the home side, early into the second half.
Sarah Ewens appeared to be clattered in the box, eventually forcing the striker to retire injured with an ankle knock. Shortly after, it was the turn of Captain Katie Reilly to have what looked like a ‘stonewaller’ discounted by the match officials as she was taken out inside the Hibs box.
Frustrations grew within the home camp with ironic cheers from the Spartans support in the stand when the Referee awarded a free-kick on half-way for a foul on Kerry Montgomery.
Two goals in three minutes killed of any attempts of a Spartans comeback. Robertson and Arnott both seeing their strikes evade Harrison to make it 1-4 with twenty minutes left on the clock.
Clelland was to be denied once again as Fife’s goal led a charmed life with the ball crashing off the crossbar and you could sense it just wasn’t to be Spartans day.
The proverbial salt was rubbed into the Spartans wounds ahead of the final whistle when Referee Hingant pointed to the spot to award the softest penalty seen at Ainslie Park for some time. Lizzie Arnott, moving away from goal, found herself on synthetic surface whilst in the proximity of Suzy Shepherd. Without hesitation, the whistler awarded a penalty much to the bemusement of the home contingent. Arnott stepped up and despatched a fifth and final goal for Hibs.
Final Score: Spartans 1-5 Hibs