Celtic supporters beat ban to watch Ghirls put on a show at Ibrox

Celtic FC Women drew today with theRangers at Ibrox in what could turn out to be a season-defining game. A loss here would’ve surely put us out of the title race, but we collected  a point but it should have been three, leaving the gap between us and the top of the table at four points. “They’re there and they’re always there,” Tommy Burns once said and today was a perfect example of just how right the Celtic legend was.

As well myself, representing The Celtic Star, a number of Celtic supporters beat theRangers’ disgraceful ban and rather than quote Burns they quoted Stein, with hastily printed t-shirts saying Football Without Fans in Nothing. No wonder the Celtic team to a Girl headed over to congratulate them at the final whistle.

It was an exciting one right from kick-off, with the home side showing no fear and pushing Celtic into their own half in the opening minutes. They came close through Jane Ross, but the forward couldn’t direct her shot towards goal and it went inches wide of the post.

Celtic couldn’t keep hold of the ball in the early stages and theRangers came close to opening the scoring again just ten minutes in. Jane Ross struck the ball and her shot battered off the crossbar. Rio Hardy was waiting for the rebound, and although she got her head on it, she put it over the bar.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Celtic finally broke into theRangers’ final third. Kit Loferski broke through and tried to set up Natalie Ross, but the pass went astray. Shen Menglu was next to break into the opponent’s box, passing to Amy Gallacher, who shot into the hands of the goalkeeper.

theRangers Women v CELTIC FC Women Scottish Womens Premier League 1 18/02/2024. Caitlin Hayes of Celtic with her own take on what has happened with the withdrawal of the away fans tickets following their 1-1 draw during the ScottishPower Womens Premier League match.  18/02/2024. Photo Colin Poultney/SWPL. Photo Colin Poultney PSI

Another chance for Celtic with half an hour gone as Kit Loferski tried to cut inside, which would’ve put her through on goal. She was dispossessed but the ball was picked up by Amy Gallacher, who was tackled on the edge of the area to snuff out the Celtic attack. Although she was convinced it was a foul, no free kick for the Scotland international. Funny that.

Finally, Celtic had settled into the game, with Natalie Ross coming close. Amy Gallacher laid off for the midfielder who attempted a shot that was comfortably saved by Fife in the end. Tash Flint came close right before the final whistle, but her effort was just shy of the post.

Going into half-time goalless, this was a good scoreline, especially considering that we looked good and had held our own after a difficult start. Celtic would look even better as the second half kicked off, in fact we started it with a sensational bang that silenced Ibrox, except for us hardly ban-busters. It wasn’t;t the loudest Celtic roar but it was a roar nonetheless and there wasn’t a sound elsewhere inside that massive stadium with tens of thousands of empty seats, but with the 700 Celtic allocation locked out.

And who else would it be to score other than, big game player, the goal machine Tash Flint! The forward latched onto a pass from Gallacher and found herself in a perfect position in the middle of the box. With a brilliant finish, she put it into the bottom corner to open the scoring.

We were looking extremely comfortable in the opening stages of the second half, breaking into theRangers box on a number of occasions. Shen Menglu came close but put her shot wide, with Paula Partido also attempting an ambitious cross into the area.

Despite Celtic looking good, the home side were also pushing for the equaliser. A delivery from Rachel Rowe found Rio Hardy, who tried to head towards goal but hit the post. It was truly end-to-end though, as just seconds later, Flint almost doubled our advantage but dragged her shot wide when Celtic arms were being raised in expectation of a second Flint goal. She’s be kicking herself about that miss tonight.

With just under 70 minutes gone, theRangers made a substitution as Mia McAulay and Sarah Ewens replaced Hardy and Arnot. After being on the pitch for a few seconds, 17-year-old McAulay made her impact as she equalised for the hosts with her first touch of the game, shocking defending on Celtic’s right hand side was to blame, a goal out of nothing.

Photo  Colin Poultney/SWPL 

We could have taken the lead through Lucy Ashworth-Clifford as she pounced on the other end and took a shot whilst one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Fife made a save to deny her. It was almost a huge mistake at the other end though, as Jane Ross rounded Kelsey Daugherty and looked to have an open net. Caitlin Hayes got herself into a great position and made a crucial block. If we do go on to win this title, this moment will be looked back on, I’ll tell you that!

Four minutes of added time at the end but neither side could do anything. Although we had a good number of chances, we weren’t clinical enough to finish them and had to settle for a single point this time around.

A 1-1 draw at Ibrox, with no Celtic supporters officially there (cough) is not a bad result for us though. Like I said, if we had lost here, the title would have been gone. Four points is a gap that we can lower if we keep the performance levels up. And next time we’ll rally the Celtic support and presumably return the favour with a ban on their fans. All we have to do is ask them to pay our bills for us, that’s how it works. If you open up a huge stadium like Ibrox for a match then there are always going to be costs for the home side to meet. Trying to pass them onto your opponent is nonsense, petty nonsense and damaging for the development of the women’s game. The SWPL1 should be speaking up about that – maybe we’ll ask for an interview to discuss.

Elena Sadiku spoke to the media after the match, at Ibrox, including The Celtic Star., saying: “I think we should have won. We created the chances that we needed to win the game and the goal that they scored came from a situation where Kit falls, and they found a forward pass. We should’ve controlled that better. That’s the only good chance they created in the second half, apart from the Ross one.

“I said to the girls, I’m so proud of how we’re progressing as a team, how we’re growing as a team, and how we’re playing better and better. If you compare this performance to my first game against Rangers, it’s just showing how better we’re getting.

“For me, football is not only about keeping possession but creating chances to score goals, but for that you need to have the ball. And in the second half, I’m so proud of how the girls started the second half because we created not only a chance with Murphy, but Tash’s chance after she scored the first one.

“I’m proud of how we acted and how we created chances. For us as a team, we’re not happy with a point, we should’ve won, but at the same time, we’re happy with how we’re growing as a team. We just need to keep building, keep working hard, putting more effort in and like I said to the girls, the full potential of this team is not there yet, we still have much more to give.

“I think everyone at Celtic knows that we are in a good condition to win the league. They’re only four points ahead, I know that Glasgow City are going to be close, but we’re going to play against all the teams in the top six twice, so we have everything in our hands. But for me, its most important that we just focus on all the games we have ahead of us.

“Since I’ve come here, I’m very clear about how I want things. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing theRangers or Hamilton or Hibs or anyone, we just need to play as Celtic every game and prepare for every game as we do.

“For me right now, we need to focus on the players that we have. It’s the squad that we have, and they also need to understand that what has been has been, but we have so much more to look forward to. That’s how I work right now at Celtic.”

Much to look forward to after the split, and of course, there is one more game beforehand. We take on Partick Thistle after the international break on 3rd March at the Excelsior. Let’s back the Ghirls in person again!

Jessica Elliott, reporting from inside Ibrox after Celtic FC Women’s 1-1 draw against theRangers…our photographer was also at the game so we’ll have publish the pics when we get them.

About Author

I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.

1 Comment

  1. A much better performance, and after all their shenanigans a draw is a moral victory IMO, well done to our Ghirls , and all the fans who beat the ban , Hail hail COYGIG .