Match Report: Celtic FC Women 3 Hibs 1 – Where did Fran Alonso get his Don Johnson inspired threads?

Celtic entertained Hibs in SWPL1 this afternoon on the back of a three-game winning run and following a confidence boosting midweek Glasgow Derby with over theRangers at Celtic Park, one that hauled the Celts back into contention for Champions League qualification and the title race.

This afternoon saw the Hoops return to the less impressive surroundings of K-Park for a game that became yet another in a succession of must win encounters, particularly with the news Glasgow City has earlier extended their lead in the SWPL1 league table to eight points over Celtic with a 4-0 victory away to bottom side Hearts.

Fran Alonso made three changes to the starting eleven from Wednesday night’s win over theRangers, as well as evoking the spirit of Crockett and Tubbs with his 1980’s Miami Vice inspired summer attire, as Kate Nicolson came in, Mariah Lee got her second start and reward for that winning goal in midweek and Jacynta returned to fitness and to the starting eleven. Whilst Sarah Teegarden and Rachel Donaldson dropped to the bench and Jodie Bartle didn’t make the match-day squad due to an injury.

The opening period saw the Celts struggle to get to grips with the early exchanges, particularly when running in wide areas, as the ball stuck on the un-watered plastic pitch, with both Jacynta and particularly Mariah Lee finding their natural running game inhibited somewhat.

Hibs however seemed to settle the best of the two sides and nearly struck lucky as early as the third minute when Colette Cavanagh struck a 25-yard effort that had Chloe Logan beaten only to see the ball rebound back off the post.

Celtic had opportunities but nothing really clear cut. Jacynta shuffled in from wide and cut the ball back only to find no takers and Chloe Craig was a little unlucky with a header from a superb Lisa Robertson free kick, but the opening goal when it came coming for Hibs was not such a surprise.

Caitlin Hayes gave away what looked a soft award of a free kick at the edge of the box and Hibs Amy Gallacher struck a fine free kick over the wall. Despite Chloe Logan getting a hand to it she was unable to keep it out. The hit was a superb effort but Celtic may regret only putting three in the wall, as will Logan who seemed to have the effort well covered.

Hayes almost made amends for the concession of the free kick leading to the goal only three minutes later as once again from a Lisa Robertson free kick Celtic’s centre half got a header away and possibly should have done better.

Hibs then almost found themselves 2-0 up as Amy Muir stole between the Celtic’s central defensive pairing but headed off target. The Hibees would live to regret their profligacy as Celtic snatched a leveller right on half time.

Once again it was a fine delivery from Lisa Robertson met this time by Caitlin Hayes, knocking it down for the advancing Nicolson, who struck for goal with real purpose. The effort was aided by a deflection as it took the ball past Emily Mutch in the Hibs goal. Celtic then had a chance right on half time to go ahead however Sarah Ewens couldn’t quite reach the delivery on the stretch.

Celtic then went in at the break level. And as news filtered through of theRangers thumping Forfar 11-0 it was clear a win was essential from the second 45. And so it would turn out.

Celtic took the lead just seven minutes into the second half as a Lisa Robertson cross-field pass found Jacynta cutting in – as she does so well – onto her right foot and taking aim at goal only to be blocked by the outstretched arm of Hibs Joelle Murray, with the referee in a perfect position to award both the penalty and caution the Hibs player.

Despite the Edinburgh side’s protestations, it was a clear penalty and Murray having initially had her hands behind her back can have no real complaints as she clearly moved her hand to the ball. Chloe Craig converted the resultant penalty low to Mutch’s right post however the penalty lacked pace and Craig was somewhat lucky the Hibs keeper was slow getting down to the effort. Still Celtic more than deserved the goal for a higher tempo start to the second period and there was more to come.

Hibs immediately had their own call for a penalty and once again the ref called it right as Keeva Keenan kept her arms firmly by her side and had made no attempt to move her arm towards the ball. That didn’t stop Hibs coach Dean Gibson protest vociferously enough to receive a booking for his troubles but the decision called by the referee, as he did for the penalty, was quite correct.

And Gibson’s and his Hibs side’s frustrations were to be further compounded as Celtic settled that match with a third goal and what a fine effort it was. Sarah Ewens converted with a thumping left foot front post finish from the corner of the six-yard box having been fed brilliantly by Maria Lee, now having switched flanks with Jacynta and having received yet another perfectly placed cross field pass from Lisa Robertson.

From there on in Celtic were pretty much in cruise control. Substitute Sarah Teegarden had an impact on the game with a couple of efforts from around the edge of the box, without really troubling the Hibs ‘keeper, yet as ever was a joy to watch whenever she touched the ball, and Mariah Lee perhaps should have done better but appeared to lose the flight of the ball from a Chloe Craig cross.

In the end the Celts got exactly what they needed, three points that looked under threat after the free kick concession in the first half and another determined performance in what was both team’s third game in only eight days.

Celtic then remain firmly in the Champions League mix and title race, after a game which Caitlin Hayes and Lisa Robertson will no doubt still be debating just who should have been player of the match.

Tempting as it is to simply award it to Sarah Teegarden for her brilliant 30-minute cameo from the bench, we’ll plump for Lisa Robertson who once again protected her backline, however without the defensive midfielder’s constant precision bombing of the Hibs goalmouth the strike before half-time that got the Celts back into the game may never have happened.

Yet one question remains unanswered. Just where did Fran Alonso get his Don Johnson inspired threads? We demand to know.

Niall J

REACTION…

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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 finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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