After getting back to winning ways against Hamilton, Celtic FC Women will be looking to pick up three points at K Park when we face Motherwell in the Scottish Women’s Premier League this evening. Three points are vital if we want to stay in the title race, as we currently sit six points behind theRangers and have also got to be aware of the threat Glasgow City will pose in the battle for one of the two Champions League places available to SWPL1 sides next season.
After being knocked out of the Sky Sports Cup by the league leaders and losing three points at Petershill Park to Glasgow City, Celtic got back on track on Sunday with a 6-0 victory over Hamilton in the Scottish Cup, to set up a quarter final tie away at Montrose. Wins over Ayr United and Montrose make up the other two victories in our last five games.
The last time we played Motherwell at K Park was in August 2022, with a squad that consisted of names like Jacynta and Clarissa Larisey – how we miss those two star performers. They were an absolute joy to watch in Fran Alonso’s side. A lot has changed since then, including the gaffer, but previous meetings go in Celtic’s favour.
We have met once this season, when Motherwell made the trip to Airdrie to face us at the Excelsior. We won 6-0, with goals from Amy Gallacher, Kit Loferski, Chloe Craig and Tiree Burchill seeing us to victory. Highlights below:
There are a lot of positives to take from our last meeting going into this one. We recorded 21 shots whilst Motherwell failed to take a single one. We also dominated possession with 65% in our favour.
Motherwell have had a tough time this season, sitting on 16 points and only recording one win in their last five fixtures. 56% of the league games they’ve played at home have been losses, and although they score an average of two goals per match, they concede more. This is further proven by the fact they have only kept a clean sheet in 33% of their home games, and that they have scored three and conceded 17 in their last five games. To be fair to the hosts, they have had a difficult run of fixtures lately.
On the other hand, Celtic have won 78% of their away games, scoring 4 and conceding far less. Clean sheets in 67% of their away games showcases our defensive ability, whilst the 19 shots we take on average speaks highly of our attacking prowess. On the pitch, we back this up, as in our last five games, we have scored 24 and conceded four. We also tend to hold the ball far more than the opposition, averaging 67% possession over the course of the SWPL season.
All stats are courtesy of FootyStats. Percentages and averages only cover games played in the Scottish Women’s Premier League and UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Elena Sadiku, off the back of her first win as Celtic manager, previewed the match with Celtic TV. She said: “The win was very important but for me, it was very important how we performed, and it was a good performance. Not only from the ones who were starting but also the players that went in. I was very pleased to see that.
“It [the most pleasing aspect of the performance]was how we behaved when we had the ball, how many goal chances we created, also how we reacted when we lost the ball, defending. Most parts of the game I was happy with.
“[The players] enjoy playing football and they enjoy playing games in front of our fans, so I think that’s also where we learn the most, so I think that everybody’s really excited for tomorrow.”
No media conference with Elena Sadiku so there’s not been a chance to question her on her squad’s fitness and any injury concerns. It appears that Shen Mengyu is injured, as she hasn’t been in the last two squads, last playing against theRangers in the Sky Sports Cup. Some fans weren’t happy about her performance last time out, so she could also have simply fallen out of favour, but that is unlikely as she was clearly being played out of position in that match, where Celtic shape was all wrong.
Incidentally a point worth making is that Shen Mengyu could solve the ‘pace problem’ in Celtic’s defence and allow Elena to look at a back four, which seems to be her preference.
It would be nice to see Tash Flint return, and it’s likely we were saving her for this game, as Elena would have probably expected us to beat Hamilton comfortably at the weekend.
With that in mind, this would be my team prediction…
I was happy to see a return to three-at-the-back, as it was clear that four defenders wasn’t working, with our solution to that mentioned above. Maybe four-at-the-back will work in the future, but the players have used a three-at-the-back formation for so long that it can be hard to adapt when a sudden change is made.
Fran Alonso explained on the Behind the Goals podcast that his own preference is to play 4-3-3 but had to go 3-5-2 with this squad of players as he reckons that you have to find the formation that suits the players. He came to that conclusion after watching back every single match from last season and evaluating every single player’s performances.
Playing with three defenders also allow for Sydney Cummings to come into the squad without having to make the difficult decision to drop either Kelly Clark or Caitlin Hayes. I like the idea of being able to utilise Celya Barclais and Chloe Craig as high full-backs too, as we know the output that they can provide to wide players ahead of them.
Once again, (top player) Lucy Ashworth-Clifford is wishful thinking as I don’t think she’s going to be match ready yet. Still though, I would like to see her play, even for the first half, just to see what she can offer. I could see Natalie Ross’ midfield partner playing slightly deeper than her, mainly due to the fact that she scored a hat-trick last time out and the gaffer might urge her to get in advanced positions.
Amy Gallacher didn’t start last game which I expected. She needed a rest, but this time, it is an important game in the title race so we can’t risk benching our leading goalscorer.
Paula Partido and Murphy Agnew on the wings for me. Agnew is quality in my opinion, so want to see as much of her as possible so she can really get going in a Celtic shirt.
Josh Hay is the referee for the tie this evening. Ewan Pow and Christopher Irving will assist him. No VAR today, as was the case in the closing stages last night at Ibrox, where the Rangers supporter on VAR (and he is a Rangers supporter) decided to overlook not one but two penalty shouts for Aberdeen, not even asking the referee to review them. It should be unavailable not just in the SWPL but also the Scottish Premiership.
This SWPL match against Motherwell kicks off at 20:00. The game will be played at K Park in East Kilbride.
Where to Watch
This game will not be available to watch, and you can’t buy tickets in advance. Tickets to the match can be bought at the gate, with both cash and card accepted. Watch out for highlights via Celtic TV tomorrow, which we’ll feature on The Celtic Star, as you would expect.
I didn’t predict a high scoring match last Sunday as I was expecting some more tactical experimentation from Elena, but if we’re settled on a back-three for the remainder of the season, then I think we’ll win comfortably today.
Motherwell haven’t won since 17 December, and that was a scrappy 1-0 victory over Dundee United. So, with that being said I’ll go for Motherwell 0 – 5 Celtic FC Women. Hopefully the Bhoys will get a similar score at Easter Road this evening to make it a lovely Celtic double.
COYGIG and COYBIG too!