Hibs v Celtic – “It’s still all to play for. We still believe in ourselves,” Alonso’s Title Target

After the disappointment at losing and frustration in knowing that for the second game against Glasgow City this season, Celtic FC Women deserved more from those games, Fran Alonso’s team return to action this afternoon in the final SWPL1 match before the newly introduced split.

The Hoops are away to Hibs with the match being played at Meadowbank Stadium, the venue for Celtic’s recent Scottish Cup win over Boroughmuir – kick-off is at 4.10pm and unless there’s an issue with the BBC due to their ongoing dispute trying to gag Gary Lineker, the game will be shown live on BBC ALBA.  The BBC channel has just tweeted about the game so it looks like the broadcast is going ahead as planned.

The SWPL1 split is slightly different to what we’re now used to in the Scottish Premiership, where the top six play one match against each other. Instead, and it’s maybe an idea worth looking at in the men’s game, the top sis teams post split play each other home and away.

So with Celtic playing Hibs today and Fran Alonso’s team back in Edinburgh next weekend for a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hearts next weekend then one thing we know is that the remaining games in the league and indeed the Scottish Cup are all going to be ultra-competitive , with matches against sides frankly lacking the quality to be in the same league as the likes of Celtic, Glasgow City, the two Edinburgh sides and The Other Mob, who Celtic pumped 3-0 a few weeks back.

And for Fran Alonso and his players every game from now to the end of the season will fall into the Must Win category as Celtic look to retain the Scottish Cup and to overturn Glasgow City’s six points advantage in the SWPL1.  Celtic have a decent goal difference advantage but it’s top versus bottom for Glasgow City today against the quite literally pointless Glasgow Women and that could end up in a record scoreline.

Teams like Dundee, St Johnstone, Kilmarnock and St Mirren would surely be better bets that a side like Glasgow Women (who have played 21 games in the top flight of women’s football in Scotland, lost all 21 matches and today if they lose by more than two goals will see their goal difference reach -100) if the Scottish Women’s game is going to progress?

The sixth side reaching the top half of the split will be decided today with Partick Thistle aware that an away win against Dundee United will earn them the a top six finish, however if they slip up and Motherwell win at Aberdeen then they’ll go into the top six. Spartans are relying on results going their way in those two games and they’d have to win against Hearts if they are to make it through.

Back to Celtic though and Fran Alonso and former Hibs player Amy Gallacher spoke to Celtic TV at Celtic Park on Friday to preview the match and to talk about how the squad has picked itself up after last weekend’s bitterly disappointing result.

“Obviously we have some things we will need to improve, but the morale hasn’t been damaged a lot, despite not getting the result that we wanted, and we will just carry on building what we have been doing this season,” Fran Alonso said.

“It’s still all to play for. We still believe in ourselves and if we carrying on playing like we did on Sunday, and maybe improve slightly in some areas of the game, I think we have every chance of achieving our goals this season.”

Celtic hammered this Hibs team 9-0 in the opening game of the season and that is a result that the home side will be looking to avenge this afternoon.

“The fixture against Hibs in August, was probably one of our best games this season,” Alonso said. “It was obviously an incredible score-line, but I doubt it will be anywhere near that this time around.

“They are a much more settled team now. They’ve been working together for almost a year, and I think in terms of results and performances they look a lot more solid now. They look a much more difficult team to beat. So we are expecting a very hard game. But for us, I think we have been fantastic this season, even despite the defeat in the last game.

“The numbers are still incredible, in terms of goals scored and goals conceded. We are the top goalscorers and have conceded the least goals in the league. At the end of the season, I think we will be in a good position and I have no doubts it will have been a successful campaign for us,” The Celtic manager said.

“It is important to focus on each game at a time, especially after a game which we didn’t win. Now winning becomes even more important. It’s always important, but even more so now. All our focus is just on Hibs, and trying to get the three points. Also trying to improve our own stats as a team, and our own tasks that we set for this week.

“It’s all about continuing to improve. We have done very well, but there are also two other teams near the top of the league who have done very well as well. We have to carry on improving, and we have another opportunity to do that. The girls have worked very hard this week, and I think it is going to be a good game,”  Fran Alonso stated.

Meanwhile Amy Gallacher spoke about the disappointment in the Celtic squad after that sucker-punch from Glasgow City last Sunday. “We were obviously gutted after the Glasgow City game. It wasn’t a good result for us, but, at the same time, I don’t think we played badly.  We spoke about it again on Wednesday, so we’re just looking forward to Sunday now and looking forward to the league,”  Amy added.

Gallacher joined Celtic from Hibs last summer and has enjoyed an outstanding debut season wearing the Hoops that her great grand-dad Patsy wore with such distinction. She’s certainly loving being back in The Celtic family playing in such a goal hungry Celtic FC Women team. “I think all the attacking players love playing in this Celtic team,” Amy said. “Goals are coming from all over the pitch, and we are creating lots of chances every game, so I’ve been loving it this season.”

Gallacher appreciates that her old teammates at Hibs will be up for today’s visit from Celtic and will be looking some some kind of revenge after that 9-0 hammering back in August.

“I think Hibs have improved throughout the season. Obviously we beat them 9-0 last time we played them, so they will wanting to change that result. We will need to be wary of that on Sunday, but if we perform well, I’m sure we can continue to score goals,” Amy Gallacher stated.  “It’s just about focusing on one game at a time now. There are 11 league games left and cup games. So we are just looking to win every one of those games, and keep positive throughout the squad.”

READ THIS…Photo of the Day: When Harry Kewell met a 15-year-old Aaron Mooy 17 years ago

Matthew Marr’s debut Celtic book – ‘The BOULD BHOYS – Glory to their name’ comes out on to Friday 24 March. Thanks to everyone who has ordered since we announced the book on Monday evening via an interview with the author. Please note that all pre-ordered books will be personally signed by Matthew Marr and you can order below if you’d like a signed copy posted out to you 24 March.


READ THIS...‘The Bould Bhoys – Glory to their name’ by Matthew Marr

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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