Having found a £2 pay per view option for today’s game, enjoying Paul Cuddihy commentating as Celtic eventually got there with a 3-0 win against Hearts. Match photos to follow but here’s our Match Report…
Celtic hosted rock bottom Hearts at K-Park this afternoon as they looked to make up for a chastening defeat at the hands of Glasgow City in the first weekend’s SWPL fixture following the Covid-19 lockdown.
As they did last Sunday, the Celts started with a 3-4-3 formation in conditions slightly more favourable than last week’s gale force winds.
Celtic’s opponents, on the back of a 6-0 defeat the weekend prior to league leaders theRangers, were probably thinking more about damage limitation than winning this encounter, particularly when you consider in the reverse fixture at the Edinburgh club’s Oriam Centre Celtic had emerged not only victorious but also hit their opponents with a double figure defeat. As such goals were expected, yet 45 minutes in we were still waiting for the breakthrough.
In the first half Hearts could be pleased with their work. Celtic, with changes in personnel from last week, took a while to really get into their stride and looked somewhat laborious as they continued to get to grips with the new formation head coach Fran Alonso is adopting since the enforced shutdown.
That said Celtic never looked under any pressure at the back as Warrington and Craig either side of the impressive Jodie Bartle, and with Johnstone making an appearance in goal, looked comfortable anytime Hearts managed to cross the halfway line, and in truth their attempts to do so were rare.
Celtic had an early chance to score after seven minutes with new signing Izzy Atkinson denied by Hearts ‘keeper Tebbitt after good build up and link up play involving Sarah Teegarden, Tegan Bowie and Sarah Ewens.
However, despite that early chance there was little clear-cut chances created for Celtic until just after the half hour when Celtic produced their best opportunity. Bartle brought the ball out from the back and fed Warrinton to her left, who in turn found Sarah Ewens in space. Ewens then picked out Jacynta in the box, and some good control coupled with a lovely drop of the shoulder saw the Celt get a fine effort heading for the top corner only to be denied by a brilliant Tebbit save to deflect over for a corner.
Celtic played well enough it should be said in that first half, they simply lacked tempo or drive from the middle of the park, and with passing lacking any real cutting edge the Celts went in a half-time goalless. Fran Alonso looked to remedy that issue with the half-time introduction of Lisa Robertson for Izzy Atkinson and it would have the desired effect.
If Tebbitt in the Hearts goal was the Jambos saviour in the opening period, the woodwork was her equivalent in the second half.
Right from the restart a Sarah Ewens header had Tebbitt scrambling as the post saved the day, and five minutes later a Warrington strike from distance, and a tough old angle, at goal – or was it a cross?- thumped off the same post.
Celtic however were soon to be in front as the patience of the passing play paid off, as the impressive Jacynta delivered the ideal ball to the back post where Rachel Donaldson connected perfectly to send the ball back across the goal and leave Tebbitt without an earthly. It was a goal long in the making but when it came it was worth the wait.
Celtic by now were playing with a good rhythm, mainly down to the introduction of Robertson but also in no small part to the vision of Sarah Teegarden. And with fifteen minutes left it was the former who found Jacynta wide left, who in turned fashioned enough space to drive a fine shot at goal. Once again, the woodwork appeared to be Hearts best defender as the ball crashed off the bar, however the ever-reliable Sarah Ewens followed up as Hearts Defenders stood frozen to the spot and drove the rebound low into the goal to make it 2-0 to the Celts.
There was also to be time enough for Celtic to get a third goal and the minimum their second half dominance had deserved. This time it was Teegarden with the perfect pass delivered first time by Bowie into the box and Ewens met the ball with a bullet header to finish the game as a contest and give the final result a more deserved sheen than had looked likely after the opening 45 minutes.
Where Celtic flattered to deceive in the first half, in the second with the introduction of Lisa Roberston vital, the Celts upped the pace and created numerous chances. Player of the match should go to Jacynta for sheer inventiveness throughout, however Sarah Ewens, inexplicably left on the bench last week, more than showed her worth to the side with a brace and an all-round effective performance. Meanwhile Sarah Teegarden, probably someway short of optimum fitness, and making her first competitive start for nigh on a year, looked every inch the class performer her reputation has indicated. In short, she was a joy to watch every time the ball reached her feet.
Full-time at K-Park as second half goals from Rachel Donaldson and Sarah Ewens get the Hoops back to winning ways!
— Celtic FC Women (@CelticFCWomen) April 11, 2021
Celtic may well have hoped for more goals against an opposition who have looked out their depth in the top flight this season, however the Celts are having to adapt to a new system Alonso seems determined to stick by, and although they took a bit of time to adapt to it again today it makes perfect sense to use an easier encounter to bed in the new formation.
Hopefully the fine second half showing, and the three goals it delivered, means the players are now adapting and can kick on from here. If not, Fran Alonso may have to swallow his pride sooner rather than later.
All in all, a good afternoon’s work from the Celts today. After a sluggish first half, a three-goal win was the least the Hoops deserved from a Lisa Roberson inspired second half.