For Celtic FC Women the SWPL1 draws to a close this afternoon, but what a way to end!
Celtic entertain theRangers, at a sold out Petershill Park and not the Penny Cars Stadium this time around. Indeed, head for Airdrie today with your ticket in hand, you’ll be watching Airdrieonians and Queens Park fans leaving the ground after their play-off match this afternoon, and that’s certainly a dreadful substitute for a Glasgow Derby!
Today’s opponents are of course the SWPL1 champions this season, as Glasgow City’s dominance over Scottish football has been overturned by the blue half of the city, something we all hope the Celtic board pay heed to when considering Fran Alonso’s transfer budget for next season. However, the Hoops have habit of being a bit of thorn in the side for the newly crowned and expensively constructed champions.
After all our rivals may have gone through the league campaign undefeated – so far -but when it comes to one-off games, it’s Celtic who have prevailed when knocking theRangers out of both the League Cup – which the Celts went on to win in December – and of course the Scottish Cup – a final the Hoops will contest with Glasgow City on 29th May – and Celtic today have a chance to end our rival’s unbeaten league run and set themselves up nicely for a tilt at winning our first Scottish Cup, and of course complete a domestic cup double. Dead Rubber? Not a bit of it.
Instead, this is a game Fran Alonso and his Celtic side will be desperate to win, and in no way is that simply to continue to keep recent impressive winning form and momentum going ahead of the cup final, no it’s to give theRangers a stark reminder that the trophy they have won this season will be one they’ll need to fight damned hard to keep a hold of next time around.
Celtic go into this one in fine form as a thumping 5-0 win over Hearts – with all the goals scored in a blitzing first half – evidenced in midweek. They also go into it in hitting peak form and with the likes of Jacynta, Liv Chance and of course Charlie Wellings playing their best football of the season so far.
Indeed, if there was any further incentive required than simply contesting a Glasgow derby, top scorer Charlie Wellings needs just one more goal to break through the forty-goal mark for this season, a truly remarkable achievement for a striker who just joined the club this season, and if you can get decent odds from the bookies then Charlie to score first might just be the play.
Liv Chance was the player who tried to go toe-to-toe in the goalscoring stakes against Hearts in midweek, in the end she had to settle for a mere brace, but the New Zealand international was in sparkling form something she told celticfc.com was all about maintaining standards with a Cup fFnal in mind and a Glasgow Derby ahead –
“We wanted to improve our performance against them from last time – they made us go 120 minutes and we didn’t enjoy that, so we wanted to get it finished early with a few goals before half-time.
“We’re building momentum for the final and I think in the first half we executed it well.
“We’re starting to play some really good football, and we have all season, but we’ve dipped in and out and I really think we’re hitting our stride now.
“It makes it easier when we score early and play well because you can relax and enjoy it that little bit more.
“We need to continue to do what we’ve done all season. It’s a really big game for us and we really want to finish the league with a win.”
Celtic boss Fran Alonso is clearly delighted with his team’s form at this moment, considering on top of a 3-1 over Spartans last weekend Wednesday’s win over Hearts gives the Hooops the chance to win three games in the space of a busy seven days, and Alonso and described the midweek first half performance as the “best 45 minutes of the season” –
“The first half was outstanding, “it was probably the best 45 minutes of the season and just when it matters most, just before the two games to come and I was very proud.
“Last time against them, I thought we played well in the semi-final but we weren’t clinical, but tonight we were excellent so I’m delighted with that.
“With three games this week, it was important too to rest some players and we managed to do that, so I’m very happy. We knew we were finishing third regardless so it was about keeping this momentum as high as possible, try to better each game and try to hit the numbers we want to and we are.
“We are getting better as a team when it matters most. I expect a very good game against Rangers and hopefully we can beat them.”
This afternoon’s game as we mentioned is a sold-out affair, but you can watch the Glasgow Derby on BBC Alba, the BBC Sports Website and on I-Player. The game kicks off at 4.10pm.
And as the SWPL1 season draws to a close Celtic have a chance to knock theRangers of their stride, and end their hopes for an unbeaten season. And believe you me, the last team theRangers would want to face to protect an unbeaten run is Fran Alonso’s Celtic. We have a habit of turning them over. This one will be well worth tuning in to see.