Celtic FC Women in Title Winning Form – 81 goals scored, just 3 conceded

Celtic FC Women sit top of the SWPL1 table today, after a heroic performance of at the Excelsior stadium in Airdrie saw them defeat theRangers 3-0 and with it open up a four-point lead over their fierce rivals back in third place and move to the top of the table on goal difference from title rivals Glasgow City.

After nineteen games of the season Fran Alonso’s Celtic side have recorded some impressive figures. They have won 16 games, drawn only two and have suffered just one loss. They have now scored and incredible 81 goals in those 19 games, whilst conceding, quite incredibly, just three. That is Championship winning form, no two ways about it.

A few words about that defeat. Celtic were denied a stonewall penalty in the first half against Glasgow City who opened the scoring from the spot early in the second half. Menglu equalised for Celtic who were the dominant side pushing for the winner in the closing stages but were hit with a sucker punch deep into stoppage time. That can be put right next Sunday when Glasgow City come to Airdrie.

Back to the game against theRangers last night. This Celtic side were simply outstanding on the night. Because, despite the scoreline, this was no easy encounter.

Early on theRangers were very much on top and Celtic struggled on occasion to get into their flow. Yet despite coughing up possession with some slack passing on occasion, the determination and belief they had in their gameplan and each other shone through.

If Celtic were stopped in their tracks on occasions, they kept on trying. If theRangers got near the goal, they defended their box as if their lives depended on it – with Caitlin Hayes and goalkeeper Pam Tajonar showing exemplary defensive work in a tough opening 45 minutes.

Yet still the Celts played from the back, and through theRangers press. Still, they moved through their rotations with the clear belief they would eventually come off. And every time they did, they broke the spirit of theRangers team’s high press – and deservedly they were rewarded.

Flint and Menglu both tested theRangers backline, and the post was struck before, after 14 minutes, Catlin Hayes’ header from a perfectly and accurately delivered corner from Jacynta put the Hoops a goal up. And now Celtic had something to hold onto.

It was a game at that stage which looked like the first goal would be crucial and so it proved. It knocked the stuffing out of the opposition, who were working the ball and probing the Celtic defence, but when the deliveries arrived in the box the Celtic defence was touch tight to the opposition and had that a greater desire to keep the ball out the net than their opponents had for scoring. And if they did sneak an effort at goal Tajonar wasn’t letting anything past her.

READ THIS…It’s a February thing – Celtic win 3-0 against the Rangers, under the lights, to go Top of the League

The Celts went in a goal to the good at half-time and Alonso’s team talk must have been easy. Match that application, show that same belief and this game is yours for the winning. Yet that is much easier said than done, isn’t it? Not for this team.

Celtic started at pace once again and scored almost straight from the restart – and it was a body blow theRangers never recovered from.

As the outstanding Shen Menglu worked the ball into the box, she fed Natasha Flint at the front post, who then flicked the ball to Amy Gallacher, making a superb supporting run into the area, and Gallacher slipped the ball beautifully under Jenna Fife in theRangers goal to put the Celtic two up.

And just as theRangers eyes were rolling and they were leaning on the ropes for support Celtic delivered the knockout blow.

And once again it was Jacynta with the perfectly weighted and flighted corner kick, right on top of Fife in theRangers six-yard box, and once again it was Hayes who had the superior desire to send the header goalward and put this Celtic side an incredible three goals in front.

There was no way back for theRangers and although they tried – as this was no one-sided contest – they couldn’t find the solutions. This Celtic side defended their goal as if the match was goalless, with one incredible saving tackle for Hana Kerner celebrated like a goal, because that’s exactly how it felt.

And when the final whistle blew the celebrations were instant. This Celtic team knew what they had achieved.

Celtic had defeated a side who hadn’t tasted a league defeat in 18 MONTHS, and one which has been assembled at far more cost than any other side in the division – and by a considerable margin.

They had worn down their opponent to the point their big-game players like Brogan Hay and Lizzie Arnot watched the conclusion of this one from the stands, so ineffective were they in breaking this Celtic team’s spirit, and over the course of 90 plus minutes Celtic had shown themselves to be bona fide title challengers. And if you have the stomach for such things nip over to FF where their thread on the game mentions their star player Brogan Hay smiling in the stands after being substituted at 3-0 down with a reference of her coming from ‘”good republican stock”. They are also complaining about the huge sums of money invested in their women’s team and want their manager sacked. This pretty much always happens every time Alonso’s side skelps them.

This morning muscles will ache and bones will creak, but it’s unlikely this Celtic team will feel much in the way of pain. Because even once the adrenaline stops pumping, the overriding feeling must be one of pride. Pride in themselves, pride in each other and proud to be top of the SWPL1 table on the back of a three-goal win against an opponent who must know today they are up against it in the title race.

Celtic however are perfectly placed to kick on and win a first ever league title, and although it’s hard to pick out anyone for specific praise on a night where everyone stood up, still a few stood out.

Pam Tajonar was exceptional between the sticks. Shen Menglu ran rings around theRangers, and is a sight to behold in full flow. However, it was Caitlin Hayes, the boss of both boxes last night, who was simply outstanding. Organising and harrying others around her, defending her 18-yard box as if her life depended on it and confirming her player of the match performance with a goal in each half. Hayes was simply outstanding last night, in a team chock full of performers.

And for Fran Alonso a special mention. He promised Celtic would try and take the game to the opposition, yet it must have been tempting to go over rather than play through theRangers high press, but the Celtic coach refused to resort solely to such one-dimensional play. Even when his side lost possession early on, the gameplan was adhered to. It was clear his players believed in it and him, and they and their coach ultimately got their just rewards.

Because today Celtic are sitting proudly atop the SWPL1 table and they have just taken three goals – without reply – off a team who hadn’t lost for a year and a half, with a performance worthy of title contenders.

And that is exactly what this Celtic side proved they were last night, genuine contenders to win their first ever league title with a Glasgow Derby victory that will be talked about for years to come.

At the media conference earlier this week, The Celtic Star speaking to Fran Alonso talked about the remarkable journey the Celtic manager has been on at the club with Champions League qualification, the League Cup won, the Scottish Cup won and wanted to know what it would mean to Alonso to become a Champion in Scotland. This morning we are closer to finding out.

Niall J

Here’s how the SWPL1 table looks this morning…

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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