After Beautiful ‘Green and Whitewash’ Sunday, Champions League Chasing Celtic play Hibs tonight

As the SWPL1 league campaign heads into Matchday 19 of a 21-game schedule the scenario facing Celtic is simple in theory. It all comes down to a numbers game for the Hoops as they face a tough away tie to Hibernian tonight. Win all three games and by hook or by crook, claim all nine points available, and a Champions League spot for next season is assured – Sunday’s delicious culmination of a Green and Whitewash of a season over theRangers saw to that.

Photo: Colin Poultney /

Yet have eyes fixed ahead and ignore the rear-view mirror and those three wins, and a few goals to boot, could yet see a league flag fly for a team who didn’t meet the media narrative of a two-horse title race between the expensively assembled theRangers and 13 in a row champions Glasgow City.

Whereby Champions league qualification is now entirely in the hands of Fran Alonso and his top performing Celts, following Sunday’s 2-1 win against theRangers, the league title race isn’t without an element of luck being required to come into play, as the season hits what Alex Ferguson famously called squeaky bum time.

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Photo Colin Poultney/ProSportsImages

Celtic’s goal difference is seven off a Glasgow City side well versed in negotiating this course. However, in a league where double figure scores haven’t exactly been uncommon it is not beyond the realms of possibility to see such a swing in goal difference occur in the remaining three games. Should Celtic navigate a tough away encounter with a win against Hibs tonight – a side they defeated 6-2 on their last visit – then the run in is favourable for the Hoops with two further matches against lowly Forfar Farmington and Motherwell to see out the season.

Glasgow City meanwhile face a final day encounter in a season that has seen them lose only once, and to the team they’ll face on that final day – theRangers. A team now under pressure and in need of every goal and point they can muster to salvage a top two finish and justify their financial outlay this season, even if that means they risk assisting a rival along the way. Funny old game, isn’t it?

Photo: Colin Poultney PSI

Still for Celtic to achieve any of that it will be an old cliché coming into play –one game at a time – starting with a match against the best side outside the top three in Hibs, and one who held the champions to a goalless draw away from home on Sunday.

Yet anyone tuning in for the end of that encounter, after Celtic’s Glasgow Derby win on Sunday, would have tuned in out of hope rather than expectation and being surprised by what they saw. Not only did Hibs hang on for a point they were unlucky not to win with a final minute breakaway chance where minds were willing but limbs tired as that late opportunity was squandered.

What was clear was both sides in those closing stages looked to have emptied their tanks. It will therefore be a big ask for Hibs to be entirely recovered after such exertions on Sunday and as a part-time side it is a big ask to play two games a week and expect consistency in performance both tactically and crucially physically.

Photo: Colin Poultney PSI

With Celtic’s full-time status and a larger squad to utilise, something Fran Alonso has done regularly this season, then alongside the fillip of the adrenaline injection a Glasgow Derby win has given the Hoops, Celtic must feel with a high tempo start that tonight’s game is one that is both winnable and even one where later in the game superior fitness could even see an opportunity to claim a few goals and eat into Glasgow City’s superior goal difference.

For Celtic a head of steam is culminating in confidence building and momentum being gained at just the right time. If Celtic haven’t quite plateaued with a third derby win of the season, then a title race is very much on the cards, starting tonight with a visit to Hibs where we’ll see soon enough if it will be enough to see the numbers add up for a team in the ascendancy as other appear to hesitate.

Tonight’s game – unlike last midweek – Kicks off at 7.15pm and is available to watch via the Hibs Facebook page.

Best of luck to the Celts against Hibs tonight. We’re all right behind you!

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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