Celtic 0 Glasgow City 0 – A tale of two missed penalties but Celtic deserved so much more

Celtic entertained Glasgow City at K-Park this evening on the back of six straight wins following defeat to tonight’s opponents in the first game back after the SWPL1’s forced suspension.

In a game that will be remembered for Celtic showing they are every bit as good at matching Glasgow City, it eventually came down to a tale of two misses and confusing officiating throughout, as the Glasgow rivals played out an entertaining goalless draw in East Kilbride.

The Celts, having leapfrogged theRangers into second place in the league race with a 3-0 win over Motherwell on Sunday, as the other Glasgow side fell to a 2-0 home reverse to City, were setting their sights above and a City side five points ahead of the Hoops and one looking to extend their advantage in the title race as they sought to win a 14th consecutive league title. An indication of the quality the Hoops were facing tonight.

Celtic will have been feeling they had a point to prove having lost the last meeting between the sides and head coach Fran Alonso made a surprise decision to return Jodie Bartle to the side, one of three changes to the backline from the weekend, and leave vice-captain Chloe Craig on the bench with club Captain Kelly Clark partnering Caitlin Hayes in the centre of defence. It was clearly a decision to ensure a strong defence faced up to a side more than capable of putting the ball in the net, with Priscila Chinchilla the players everyone would have known pre-match was a real threat to the Hoops.

Yet despite the expected threat from Chinchilla it was Ole Fulutudilu who stood out as the one causing the much-changed Celtic defence difficulty in the early stages, as City’s number nine’s movement pulled the Celtic defence around and had the opening chance as Hayes failed to connect with a crossed delivery and the resultant chest and half volley flew wide.

The re-jigged Celtic defence looked shaky in the early exchanges as a Lauder header from a Davidson cross again should have been dealt with by the centre of Celtic’s defence but thankfully it went wide.

In truth the first half descended into a battle for territory, that once gained by either side was then surrendered cheaply. There was no faulting the effort on either side but the quality was lacking as niggling fouls and some unfathomable refereeing constantly broke up play as dis both sides coughing up possession far too easily.

Jodie Bartle and Rachel Donaldson both had half chances for the Celts but there was no real conviction in either Bartles’s shot, on her weaker left foot, or Donaldson’s chipped effort, as in between those efforts City’s Lauder had an effort that looked closer than it was and was well covered had it been anywhere near the inside of the post by Celts ‘keeper Logan.

Then came the first major controversial moment, from a referee who had already made an impact on the game. This time following a short corner the unlucky Mariah Lee was penalised for a harshly awarded foul just inside the area and the referee pointed to the spot. It seemed one in the soft category and justice was soon served as Chloe Logan pulled off a fabulous save from City’s Van Vyk well enough struck penalty but one lacking in height.

The save seemed to galvanise the Hoops, as a game that looked as if territorially City were gaining traction, soon saw the best chance of the game come from Rachel Donaldson who showed she may have just been getting her eye in with the previous lobbed effort. This time penalty sinner Van Vyk was sloppy with a short-headed clearance which reached Donaldson at the edge of the box who took a delicate first touch before unleashing a fine effort that looked goal-bound all the way until the excellent Alexander pulled off an incredible save.

A goalless first half was probably about right, given the lack of quality but no lack of effort from both sides, but all watching were hoping for a bit of composure and hopefully some magic to spark the game to life in the second half.

However, the second period began much in the same as the first as the physical battle for territory continued and skill took a back seat.

It took ten minutes before the first chance of note as Lauder and Davidson linked up well for City and delivered a superb cross Zaneta Wyne should have scored with but Logan saved well, before Filbey was called into a superb goal saving tackle on Fulutudila to halt another City effort on the Celtic goal.

Five minutes later and yet more controversy and another penalty. This time Celtic were the recipient of the referee’s strange interpretation of the rulebook. Firstly, awarding Celtic a soft free kick on edge of the area for a Jo Love foul on Ewens, and as Teegarden tapped a short free kick to Lisa Robertson the Celtic midfielder hit a strike that deflected to the edge of the box where the city ‘keeper Alexander appeared to win the ball from Donaldson, however the referee pointed to the spot and this time Sarah Ewens effort was saved by Alexander.

By now the game was opening up and there was time for another penalty shout, probably the strongest of all three, as Fulutudila was fouled in the box by Anna Filbey and the referee evidenced the only thing consistent in her performance was her inconsistency, though from a Celtic perspective it was clearly very welcome decision to ignore City’s claims for the pen.

Three minutes later Sarah Ewens managed to get in behind the defence but a first touch took the ball away from goal, and although the shot was on target Alexander wasn’t really troubled as she dropped on the ball to save, before Celtic breathed a sigh of relief as a Jo Love shot from 20 yards hit the cross bar with Logan stunned.

There was a further scare as a combination of Caitlin Hayes and then Anna Filbey managed to stop a header from City’s Shine crossing the line before the referee managed to get at least one big decision right, or did she?

Mariah Lee was brought to the ground as she skipped away from the challenge of Jenna Clark who took one for her team and crudely stopped Lee in her tracks resulting in a straight red card. That decision was quite correct, yet there were fair claims from City that a foul had been missed in the build-up and City coach Scott Booth entered the referee’s book for his complaints. Celtic then infuriatingly took a short free kick as Lisa Robertson fed the ball into Teegarden only for the ball to be easily mopped up by Glasgow City when a ball into the box or a strike at goal may have kept the pressure on.

In the end a draw was the right result of this game of two misses – both from the penalty spot – and a perplexing performance from a referee who seemed to struggle with the pace of the game.

The result probably suits Glasgow City better as they maintain their five-point lead at the top, but Celtic remain very much in the title race and had they lost tonight that would probably not have been the case.

It was a match rich in excitement but perhaps lacking in technique but that won’t matter to Celtic. The Celts have been unlucky this season against a far more experienced rival and tonight they proved at last that at the very least they are a match for Glasgow City and with a little more luck and some decent officials they may well have edged this one.

Niall J

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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