Caitlin Hayes reckons Celtic’s strong defensive performances this season are the key to the title challenge as the Ghirls keep the pressure on current Champions Glasgow Untied in the exciting SWPL1 title race.
An opening day defeat to the league leaders has been the only set-back for a Celtic side that has been mean at the back and free scoring at the other end, scoring 16 goals in their trips to Edinburgh to play Hearts and Hibs and adding clean sheets in narrow 1-0 wins against Spartans and theRangers at their training ground on the Beautiful Sunday a few weeks back.
The Celtic defender reckons that the defensive work done on the training ground is paying dividends and will be crucial as Celtic eye up a serious title challenge this season.
“At the time I wasn’t too comfortable with saying that it was the lack of prep, because I think that’s an excuse for us just not turning up on the day,” Hayes told the official Celtic FC Women’s site, “but going through theRangers game, I personally think the back four and the relationship we’ve now created is nowhere near what it was when we played Glasgow. It’s just testament to the hard work and what we’ve put into it over the last couple of months.”
Hayes and her central defensive partner Kelly Clark have been crucial to the great start that Fran Alonso’s side has made to the season, with only two further goals conceded since the 2-0 opening day defeat.
“Without being too soppy, there’s definitely no relationship like there is with the centre back partnership – it’s crucial.
👋 Sin agad e airson na h-oidhche an nochd! 👋
That's it for tonight folks as Celtic take the 3 points!
— BBC ALBA (@bbcalba) November 20, 2020
“My relationship with Kelly is only getting stronger with each game as we continue to learn and lean on each other both on and off the pitch. The element of trust is paramount which is something again that’s only gaining strength, it’s reassuring to know if I mess up she’s got me and of course vice versa.”
Having previously played her football in England, America and over in Cyprus, the Celtic centre half is certainly enjoying life in the SPWL1, a league that she sees getting more competitive all the time.
“I think when you look at the Forfar v Rangers and Glasgow City v Hearts and see how there was only one goal in them for a good while, and when we played Spartans you can see the challenge they can pose.
“As much as people think the top three may run away with it, I think it’s testament to the others that they are putting themselves into it and still challenging, so each week you have to turn up to training with an open mind and willingness to work, because you know at the end of the week you’ll have a tough game no matter who it is.”
Next up for Celtic after the women’s game’s International Break is only the second home game of the season, against Forfar Farmington on Sunday 6 December at K-Park, the match is being shown live on the BBC.
“We’ve just got to maintain that focus and keep having the perspective that we don’t fear any team, but we respect all of them, and as long as we show that utmost respect and turn up with our own game plan and work ethic then I think we will reap what we deserve,” Hayes added.
— Scottish Building Society SWPL (@SWPL) November 26, 2020