Having spectated Falkirk 13's and Hibernian 15's win their respective Scottish Cup Finals, it was now Rangers and Hibernian 17's shot at glory in their age group's final in Scotland's most prestigious trophy. The teams came out to a rapturous applause, but in the end, there could only be one team cheering at the end. It was an honour for the right to match report be bestowed upon me. There is no bigger game than this one, and sadly this could be some of the older players last chance to win the prestigious award. Everyone was anticipating a great game, and it did indeed turn out to be thrilling game.
The first opportunity came the way of the Hibees, Amber Robetson and Nicole Rutherford combined and won a corner. Erin Burns' corner almost deceived Rangers goalkeeper Murren Stevenston but she held the ball at the second attempt just as Jaimie-Lee Smith was ready to pounce.
Rangers swiftly countered though. Erin Cuthbert turned her marker superbly and sent a lovely through ball to the on rushing Sarah Robertson. Her lob had Lauren Stewart in the Hibs goal beaten, but also the bar and the ball just didn't come down enough.
It was then Hibs who then applied the counter, Burns driving forward and winning the ball high - her pass across goal almost found Rutherford in a great position but Chelsea Cornet read it and the danger was cleared. The ball came to Smith thirty yards out: she opted to strike it and just put it wide of the junction by a yard or so; Stevenson seeing it away the whole time.
Hibs were at it again four minutes after with another long drive. A ricochet found its way to Caitlin Russell, who curled the ball just wide, and this time Stevenson was considerably more troubled.
From the resulting goal kick, Megan Karagoizos controlled and then played a superb through ball into the feet of Kirsty Howat. She was perhaps put off by the incoming Erin Burns and the shot was screwed wide from an angled twenty yards.
Twenty minutes of play had went passed at that point and it was clear both of these sides played at a top level, with both sides playing attractive passing football. They were cancelling each other out at the early stages though, but that for me, only added to the occasion of the final; the crowd were thrilled with what they had saw so far, and rightly so. Neither team's central players were seeing much of the play, both teams opting to get the ball put wide and make the most of the large pitch at Toryglen.
Hibs were just edging it in terms of possession, with the ball spending more time in the Rangers half than the white and green's. When found in space, Robertson again decided to have a go from distance. This time her rasping strike just dipped onto the roof of the goal. These strikes were getting closer, and were obviously a strong point of Hibs - why not have a go when the ability is there?
Rangers however registered the first shot on target. Cuthbert squared the ball to Clleland who hit a vicious drive straight at Stewart. In almost an identical position thirty seconds later, Cuthbert won the ball superbly in the Hibs D, and the space opened up for her. She opted for a snapshot which also went straight into Stewart's gloves.
The small girl from Irvine wasn't to be denied though. On the thirty-fourth minute the Scotland cap opened the scoring in superb fashion with a magnificent solo goal. She picked the ball up wide right, and jinked past two defenders to get into the box. From there, she proceeded to beat two more defenders and nick the ball just before Stewart got there, and the ball squeezed in at the far post.
It got better for Rangers moments later. A defence splitting long ball bounced perfectly for Howat and she steered it into the back of the net.
There was a moment of worry for Hibs moments later. Captain Rutherford received a nick and fell awkwardly on the knee she was bearing a knee support on. However, she was seen to by the medics and made it back on the park just before half time.
The free kick Rutherford won almost lead to a goal. Burns' cross-come-shot was destined for the far top corner, and Stevenston made a superb backwards dive to keep the ball out of her goal. She had Chelsie Watson to thank for the ball staying out completely though - Rebecca Smith's shot from close range from the rebound looked a certain goal, but centre back Watson cleared for her side and the score remained at 2-0, which did bring about half time.