Aberdeen Women manager Clint Lancaster believes his side’s 7-0 defeat to Hibernian reflects the difference in levels between the two SWPL sides.
At Cormack Park, a first-half hat-trick from Jorian Baucom and goals from Shannon McGregor and Kirsty Morrison had Hibs 5-0 up at half-time, before Brooke Nunn netted a quickfire brace in the second half.
The defeat keeps Aberdeen in seventh in the league table ahead of the festive break, with Lancaster’s side returning to action on January 7 in the Scottish Cup.
The Dons fielded a young starting XI against the full-time Hibees, with 15-year-old Kiera MacPherson and Amelie Martindale, 16, making their first SWPL starts.
After the defeat, Lancaster said: “I really think you could see the difference in levels.
“Earlier on in the season, I think it would be fair to say we were punching above our weight. We picked up some good results against the teams who we would find ourselves in and around in the table.
“Hibs are a very good team with a lot of quality players and you could see that it was full-time against part-time.
“It is not just full-time against part-time, but if you look at the age the players I have got out there – we’re talking about kids being on the pitch.
“I’ve got two 15-year-olds on the pitch (MacPherson and Phoebe Murray) and Amelie who is 16 playing at centre-back. It is quite literally under-21s against a senior first team.
“You have to look at it like that and remember where we are at and what we are doing.
“What I will say is, I am incredibly proud of the second half performance because we showed a bit of fight which is something we didn’t do in the first half in some areas.”
Hibs run riot in first half with five goals
The visitors won an early free-kick on the edge of the box which Ellis Notley passed into the area, finding Siobhan Hunter, whose shot was held by Dons goalkeeper Annalisa McCann.
It was 1-0 to Hibs after nine minutes when McGregor latched on to the end of a poor defensive clearance and slotted the ball home from inside the box.
Aberdeen’s first attack came as they looked to hit Hibs on the break. Eva Thomson did well to drive into the final third, but none of her team-mates were there to help her and the move petered out.
Baucom made it 2-0 in the 19th minute when Abbie Ferguson squared the ball to the American forward, who did a smart turn before netting with a composed finish.
MacPherson played a superb long ball forward to find Hannah Stewart, but her long-range strike didn’t trouble back-pedalling Hibs goalkeeper Katie Fraine as it sailed well over the bar.
Hibs went 3-0 up after 26 minutes as Baucom bagged her brace with a tap in after Madison Finnie slipped in the box, gifting the striker possession.
It didn’t take long for Hibs to score their fourth as in the 31st minute Morrison stabbed home the rebound after McCann saved the initial shot from Michaela McAlonie.
Baucom had her hat-trick by the end of the first half as she scored Hibs’ fifth in injury time with a side-footed finish from inside the box.
There were two changes at half-time as goalkeeper Zoe MacLean came on for her Dons debut, replacing McCann, and Francesca Ogilvie came on for Phoebe Murray.
The Dons managed to keep Hibs at bay for 25 minutes in the second half, until substitute Nunn passed a rebounded ball into an empty net after MacLean had made a good stop to deny Lia Tweedie.
Nunn had her brace only two minutes later, scoring with a superb strike from the edge of the box to make it 7-0.
When Aberdeen return to action in January, Lancaster hopes his squad will have been bolstered with new recruits.
He said: “There will be new faces. I am not sure if they will be ready for the Scottish Cup game, but we will see.
“The aim is to bring in some new players and the players themselves recognise that as well. It’s very important the girls recognise that there are a lot of players here – the teenagers, the 15 and 16 year olds, – who shouldn’t be starting in the SWPL now.
“It’s too early for them in their development. You play the full-time teams and you don’t get much of the ball, so it is really difficult for the younger players.
“Some of the girls should still be playing in the academy where it is more competitive for them and they are getting on the ball more.
“We will bring in a few, hopefully, and that will help to strengthen us for the next half of the season.”