The Road to Hampden – Bowie’s Brilliant Start Against Boroughmuir Thistle

Scottish Cup 5th Round (Meadowbank Sport Centre, Edinburgh) 12 February 2023.

Tegan Bowie Celtic the lead in the first minute

Boroughmuir Thistle 0-5 Celtic FC Women

Celtic goalscorers: Bowie (1), Craig, (Pen 18 & 64), McAneny (32), Fergusson (86)

Fran Alonso surprised many with his decision to name a matchday squad for this afternoon’s Scottish Cup fifth round encounter with Boroughmuir Thistle minus the talents of player of the year Jacynta.

The Australian international had started the midweek SWPL1 with Spartans from the bench and had come on at half-time to score just three minutes after her introduction, but if Celtic were going to win this afternoon, they were going to have to do so without arguably their most talented player.

Fran Alonso did however give a first start to new signing American wing-back Hana Kerner for this one and did name a strong starting eleven which showed lower league opponents a healthy dose of respect.

And no-one was second guessing Fran Alonso’s decision making when Celtic took the lead in the opening minute, with Tegan Bowie finding the net after a lofted assist from captain for the day Caitlin Hayes, or indeed when the second followed soon after from the penalty spot, with the ever-dependable Chloe Craig scoring from twelve yards.

And more – much more in fact – was to come.

Celtic were three goals to the good after 32 minutes when Maria McAneny, who had shot wide of goal just five minutes prior after being set on her way by a Lisa Robertson pass, put Celtic in at the break 3-0 up. Tegan Bowie turned from goal scorer to provider, with a front post cross that was expertly controlled by McAneny on her right foot and finished sweetly with left.

Celtic started the second half strongly with Menglu denied by an offside flag and then by her touch, after a Catlin Hayes ball over the top, before Fran Alonso made a triple change with Otto, Kerner, McAneny, making way for Ross, Goldie and Flint on the hour mark.

However, for Thistle, those missed opportunities were only delaying the inevitable. As after 64 minutes Celtic struck again -and once more the scorer was Chloe Craig – meeting a McAneny cross at the back post to head Celtic four goals in front and grab her second of the game. That strike coming just a minute after an Amy Gallacher driving run had led to a good shout for a Celtic penalty, only for the ref to instead point for a corner kick. Some justice then for the Ghirls to score from the resultant set-piece.

Celtic could have been five ahead with 18 minutes remaining, as the impressive Bowie once again looked to supply the ammunition, only for Natasha Flint to strike the post, denying the on-loan Leicester City striker a goal after starting this one from the bench. And there was a further missed opportunity with McAneny hitting a freekick from the edge of the area, only for her left-footed effort to land on the top of the net rather than in it.

A fifth goal however was inevitable, and with four minutes left to play it was Liv Fergusson who completed the scoring with a finish made to look simple from inside the area and to give the outcome a result that matched Celtic’s dominance – and to conclude a pleasingly positive outcome for the Hoops, with perhaps the only negative being player of the match Chloe Craig making way for Kelly Clark after receiving treatment for an injury.

This was a tournament Celtic won in dramatic fashion at Tynecastle last May to complete an incredible domestic cup double. The final against Glasgow City was a hard-fought victory, as Celtic recovered from a match of honest mistakes from the match officials, to dramatically win the trophy in extra-time with ten players.

This tie may have lacked the drama of that final last season, but a convincing win puts the Celts on course for a successful defence of that hard-earned trophy – and one they are clearly not willing to give up without a fight. And all without the services of a rested Jacynta.

Today’s impressive win over Thistle ensures the Hoops are in the quarter-final draw, with the those ties currently scheduled for the weekend of Saturday, 11 March 2023. And with Alonso’s side only three points off Glasgow City at the top of SWPL1, thoughts must already be moving towards the distinct possibility of another double for Celtic this season – this time a first ever SWPL1 Title and the retention of the Scottish Cup, with the added incentive of course of this year’s final being played at Hampden.

Niall J

About Author

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

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