Spartans 2-0 Hibernian: 'We want fourth' declares Debbi McCulloch after impressive win
“We want fourth” declared Spartans head coach Debbi McCulloch after they beat Hibernian 2-0 and leapfrogged them into the top half of the SWPL 1 table.
Two goals in two second half minutes from Katherine Smart and Becky Galbraith gave Spartans their best result of the season.
And now McCulloch is determined her side can stay in fourth for the rest of the season, and is hoping their defence can be key to that, with no-one yet to hand out the sort of hammerings others in the division have suffered.
“We want to keep our goal difference at a really low level because we are really proud of that from the first round of seven fixtures,” McCulloch told Anyone’s Game.
“We have not had a doing like other teams. It might still come but I hope not. They are the two things we really want to go and achieve.”
While Spartans moved up the table, Hibernian dropped down to sixth after Forfar Farmington 3-2 victory away to Motherwell.
Hibs edged the play in a scrappy first half. Amy Muir and Joelle Murray sent efforts sail over the bar.
Colette Cavanagh was a constant bright spark, linking well with Shannon Leishman, but Spartans goalkeeper Rachel Harrison hardly had a significant save to make.
Smart had a wind assisted shot almost crept in for the hosts whilst Galbraith saw a shot well gathered by the Hibs goalkeeper Emily Mutch.
Ellis Notely had a shot on target early in the second half for Hibernian, but two goals in quick succession put Spartans in control.
Smart sent a long range strike into the ‘keepers bottom left hand corner, before Galbraith pounced to round the ball past the onrushing Mutch and into the net.
Hibs were in shock, and it could have been three when Spartans captain Alana Marshall hit a sweet strike off the underside of the crossbar.
Hibs had late chances through Cavanagh and Joelle Murray, and Spartans’ Smart had two good chances but could not double her tally for the day.
Player of the match - Katherine Smart
Smart who scored the game's opening goal; a beautiful strike from distance from the ex-Celtic star. In addition, her continuous ball winning and harrying in midfield during the second half gave Hibs little space.
A notable mention if she hadn’t been on the losing side was Colette Cavanagh, who really stood out as someone who will cause defences nightmares with her pace, skill and vision.
Spartans head coach Debbi McCulloch: “I think it was a bit scrappy first half, we didn’t play to our full potential. Hibs put us under a wee bit of pressure, especially from set pieces but when we started to change our game plan at half time.
“We knew if we could be a wee bit more direct, we could create chances. We’ve taken them and then managed the game the last 25 minutes without letting them create anything. I don't remember Rachel (Harrison) having a significant save to make the entire game.”
Hibernian head coach Dean Gibson: “It was pretty even as expected until Spartans scored. I think when the second goal went in, Spartans showed a lot of desire to protect their lead, although we didn’t trouble them enough to get back in the game.
“I think lots were asked today of the players and it's up to them to answer it in the next couple of weeks. When we do go behind, do we want it enough? Do we care enough? Have we got enough commitment and desire? Because when it was 0-0 and the game was even, I think we looked the better side at that point, but at the same time Spartans have worked hard.
“They went ahead and for me the disappointment is how we responded to going behind. I felt they could have responded a lot better.”