Broken Hearts – Charlie Wellings nets extra time double to send Celtic into Scottish Cup Final

Women’s Scottish Cup Semi-Final Celtic FC Women 2 Hearts 0 (AET)

It took perhaps longer than may have been expected for a dominant Celtic to eventually win this Scottish Cup tie after extra-time considering the game was very much one-way traffic, but it was a victory very much deserved as Fran Alonso’s side stuck to their footballing principles when faced with an opponent sent out to deny the Celts rather than make a game of it.

In the end it was two goals from Charlie Wellings – who else – in the second period of extra-time which eventually saw the Hoops through to their first Scottish Cup Final since 2008 – and with it the chance to become History Ghirls – as the Celts will now head to the Scottish Cup Final with the opportunity of winning a historical domestic cup double having lifted the League Cup back in December.

This was a victory well-earned for Fran Alonso and his Celtic team. After a patient display in which the Hoops create more than enough chances to prevail in the initial 90 minutes, the extra-time victory was a just reward for a professional performance maintained throughout. And that willingness not to deviate from the gameplan saw the Hoops eventually, and deservedly, rewarded for their in game tactical discipline – as well as a huge amount of patience.

As early as the first minute Celtic showed their attacking intent with Jodie Bartle evading her marker to provide Charlie Wellings the ball inside the Hearts box, who in turned laid the ball off to Jacynta, only to see the Australian send her effort too high.

It was a bright start from the Hoops with Parker-Smith in the Hearts goal kept busy as a couple of saves were required in the opening ten minutes, before Chloe Craig did beat the ‘keeper only to see the ball come back off the cross-bar.

It looked as if a goal was imminent now, but despite probing and creating half chances the first half ended goalless. Hearts it must be said had started to gain a foothold in terms of possession, without really threatening to create anything of note as the first 45 minutes progressed, and credit must go to the Edinburgh side’s dogged determination to stick to their defensive shape a deny Celtic much space in which to operate.

Celtic though, despite what could have been a frustrating time, stuck to their probing expansive passing play, as they looked to move their opponents from their staunch defensive shape and pounce should their guard drop.

Once again, Celtic created openings at the start of the second half with Chance unlucky not to score with a half chance, before Wellings was denied by Parker-Smith, after some sharp combinations from the Hoops, and Chance again was the supplier for Chloe Craig who had a chance to open the scoring, only for the defender’s stabbed effort to go wide of the target.

And still Celtic probed, and still Hearts held firm, as Bowie, who entered as a second half substitute for Chloe Craig, crossed into the box and as the ball was worked back to Mengyu Shen at the edge of the area the Chinese international found her forceful drive deflected away by that resilient Hearts defence. Five minutes later Chance was probing again with a beautifully weighted through ball finding Charlie Wellings running onto it but again the chance was deflected away for a corner kick.

The Hoops were running out of time yet still creating chances and in the final minute of the 90, Bowie, following a drop ball, forced the ball into the area but Wellings just couldn’t quite steer the ball home and with it the game went into thirty minutes of extra time.

By now Hearts were running on fumes having chased shadows for much of the 90 minutes, and in extra time Celtic’s superior fitness began to show. Hearts were still closing down space but were slower to do so and Shen could have scored in the opening 15 minutes of extra time as her shot nicked the outside of the post with a low shot, with Hearts looking slow to react.

Yet credit to them Hearts still kept the Celts at bay but the dam was about to break. And in the second period of extra time, it was Charlie Wellings who steered a finish just inside the goalkeeper’s right-hand post after superb work from Jacynta, to put the Hoops a goal to the good, before being swamped by her relieved teammates. And any hope of a Hearts revival was extinguished for good, as again Wellings found space inside the box and this time drove home a finish into the middle of the goal to send a delighted Celtic into the Scottish Cup Final.

This was a story very much of Celtic’s creative persistence eventually breaking Hearts stubborn resistance. The Hoops were never really threatened at all over the course of 120 minutes; however, they found an opponent who had clearly worked on how to deny the Celts in the build-up to the game but one unable to find the goal to hold onto that may have seen their gameplan work.

In the end Celtic’s patience and unwavering willingness to stick to their tactical philosophy eventually saw them through, and just when Hearts thought they’d kept Charlie Wellings quiet the Celtic striker once again showed you have to be on your toes throughout to deny Celtic’s top scorer – even if the game does go beyond 90 minutes – and Hearts just didn’t have the legs to hold out for penalty kicks.

Celtic now head to the Scottish Cup Final at Tynecastle on 29 May and with it a chance to win a first ever Scottish Cup, a domestic trophy double and a place on Celtic’s rich cup winning tapestry.

On today’s evidence our cup final opponent will need more than resistance to stop this team’s incredible persistence, as Fran Alonso’s team set their sights on becoming Celtic’s History Ghirls.

Niall J

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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