Weakened Celtic FC Women lose third Glasgow Derby of season and we know why

Certainly not the start the new boss was looking for as Celtic FC Women fell to defeat last night at the Excelsior. The Ghirls were beaten by theRangers, who secure their place in the final of the Sky Sports League Cup thanks to a late penalty.

As the game got underway, Celtic chose to sit back and let theRangers play their game. Despite this, it was us that found the first opening as Kelly Clark attempted a lob from outside the box.

Up our end of the pitch, we were let off as midfielder Rachel Rowe squandered a huge chance. She was picked out by a Lizzie Arnot cross, but she could only drag her shot wide of the post.

Thankfully, we showed some fight as Amy Gallacher sent a cross towards the box. It looked destined for the back of the net as Celya Barclais was in position to strike home, but she couldn’t get her stance right and slipped as the ball went wide.

With our defence looking shaky, it was a relief that we went into half-time with a nil-nil scoreline.

The second half got off to a much more positive start as Amy Gallacher almost found herself through on goal after latching onto a long ball. It was knocked away by a defender, but we kept on the front foot and eventually…

PENALTY TO CELTIC! The referee pointed to the spot after the ball struck the hand of Kathryn Hill, who could have no complaints. Chloe Craig stepped up to the spot and converted as cool as you like. Straight down the middle to open the scoring for the Hoops.

For ten minutes or so after the opener theRangers looked deflated. This would quickly change as Hill, who gave away the initial penalty, got herself in the right position to force the ball into the back of the net after a scramble in the box. Daugherty did her best to deny theRangers, even pulling off a magnificent double save, but our opponent eventually got their way.

Rangers Women s Defender Kathryn Hill scores her sides first goal Celtic Women v Rangers WFC,Sky Sports Cup, Football, Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie, Scotland, UK – 19 Jan 2024 LukexNickerson//Shutterstock

Time was ticking down but both teams still looked threatening despite the inevitable tiredness. With 80 minutes on the clock, the threat became real and for the third time this season theRangers went from being a goal down to Celtic to taking the lead.

Kelsey Daugherty of Celtic FC Women looks dejected after conceding to the Rangers in the Sky Sports Cup,  Excelsior Stadium. 19 Jan 2024. Photo Luke Nickerson/Shutterstock

Playing down the right, the ball was knocked to Maclean on the edge of the box. She had time to take a touch and fired past the helpless Daugherty.

It looked like that was that, but with a minute left in the regulation 90 minutes, Celtic were awarded a second penalty for a foul committed by Middag. This was a close call but you could see why the referee gave it. Chloe Craig stepped up again and struck it past the keeper, equalising for the Hoops.

Now, it looked like we were definitely heading into extra-time, but one more twist was waiting at the Excelsior. Hayes made the crazy decision to pull down Hardy inside the box despite there being no danger as the ball was running through to Daugherty. PENALTY TO theRANGERS! The referee immediately awarded a third spot kick of the match, this time to theRangers. Hardy stepped up and, although Daugherty went the right way, the shot flew into the back of the net.

It was a crazy decision by Caitlin Hayes and just like in the Champions League penalty concession when the game looked won, it proved costly for Celtic.

With that final piece of action, the referee blew his whistle, ending Celtic fans dreams of securing a victory over their rivals. And if we are being honest Celtic didn’t deserve to win this match and that’s not the first time this has been the case against theRangers this season – they strengthened in the summer – while Celtic went backwards.

It wasn’t the start Elena Sadiku was hoping for and you can’t help but feel a little sorry for the new Celtic manager. Maybe it was the managerial change but Celtic have totally failed to read the situation with the squad in this January transfer window. Fran Alonso told The Celtic Star before Christmas that there would be a (much needed) striker coming in during this window and ahead of last night’s vital match. It never materialised and the result was inevitable.

Elena Sadiku gave her thoughts to Celtic TV after the match: “We had a game plan and I feel that in the first half, we didn’t execute the game plan like we talked about.

“After some feedback and a team talk at half time, we came out as a stronger team and at 1-0, I feel as though we had momentum. They pushed us down, they got the 1-1, and when they got the 2-1, I felt like we went down as a team and that’s something we need to improve. For me, if we take one goal in, we need to step up and work even harder.

“We have many parts of the game that we can learn from and grow as a team. I think that’s important to take forward in the future. Like I said to the girls, we have potential, and we need to learn from this game and see it as a learning opportunity.

“I can’t wait for this week to come. Glasgow City are a great team that we are going to face but I really believe in this team. We have lots of good players, but also people. I look forward to working with them more and trying to improve.”

Being honest, that was a shambolic performance from Celtic. We were dominated by theRangers throughout the game, and although we had our moments of momentum, we didn’t really look like a team that deserved to win.

Amy Gallacher, as much as I love her, probably should’ve come off as she could’ve very easily been given her marching orders as time ran down. When she was on a yellow, she went for a studs-up challenge on a theRangers player that would’ve probably been a sending off had the referee seen it. I thought she was losing her head towards the end of the game and was seriously worried we were going to go down to ten players.

The challenge by Hayes that gave away the third penalty of the game was crazy, but I don’t need to tell you that. The foul will be the talking point and I’m sure she’ll get a lot of stick for it, so I’ll not add to that. Just remember, don’t let a loss get to you so much that you start attacking your own players. Caitlin Hayes made a mistake, she’s a footballer, it’s bound to happen.

Final thing I’ll add to the Hayes drama, there was some sort of disagreement between Hayes and Elena Sadiku. Let’s hope that this isn’t a serious issue and one that can be resolved.

Props to Daugherty, by the way. She is one of the only Celtic players on that pitch today who can be proud of their performance. She bailed us out time and time again but let’s not make that a common occurrence please!

Sadly, this all means that Celtic do not progress to the final and will not be competing at Tynecastle in March. Let’s hope that we can quickly recover from this setback and get back to winning ways in the league, when we take on Glasgow City on Sunday, 28th January.

The priority is the SWPL1 title and we are already three points behind theRangers with three games against them to come. There is still time for the club to bring in the players that are required. Last night we had a slow and cumbersome defence and next to nothing up front with our only real striker injured and no timeline given.

The scrutiny of the women’s team this season has not been there, mostly as a result of the club’s decisions, and while the warning signs have been there and flagged up on The Celtic Star, they have been ignored.

Celtic v St Mirren – Peter Lawwell and Michael Nicholson in the stands during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Wednesday November 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Meanwhile theRangers – with a budget at least double Celtic’s – will now be targeting a treble. What a mess we’ve made of things since last May. Over to you Michael Nicholson and the Celtic Board.

Final point, why did Celtic allow their support to display their banners in the empty stand behind the goals at what was a home match for Celtic? If the situation was reversed there would have been no chance of that happening.

Jessica Elliott

About Author

I'm a student journalist and Celtic supporter. I'm delighted to have been recently appointed women's football writer for The Celtic Star, where the coverage of the Celtic FC Women's team has been incredible and unrivalled over the past three seasons.


  1. Personally think all the Celtic players looked weak. they were easily brushed off the ball by Rangers players. They definitely need to work on their strenght and stamina, as the rangers players looked more athletic and robust. As for our passing, we can’t seem to find a team mate with a pass and tried to get rid of the ball as if it is a hot potato. I feared the worst so happy enough to settle for just a 3-2 loss as apart from the penalty we did not really test their keeper.

    Hopefuly the new permanent training facilities that is being built for the women’s team may help to address this. A

  2. Great analysis and a very telling conclusion. The board need to invest in the team that’s clear. But if they won’t spend money on the men’s team, what are the chances? Fran leaving should have been a wake-up call. The future of women’s football at Celtic should have been really bright, but with Lawwell and son turning the whole operation into a milk cow for Tory fat cats, it’s not going to happen.

  3. Rob O’Keeffe on

    Some praise for the man of the match,Sean Murdoch,the ref. Great to see a no nonsense approach taken,no limelight desperately sought out,all penalty decisions spot(no pun)on. The officials in the SPL could,perhaps,learn something from this performance.

  4. Rangers looked bigger, stronger and physically superior all over the park. Lightweight Celtic were too easily brushed aside and beaten in the tackle. When we did have the ball we gave it away repeatedly. New coach has a big job on her hands.

  5. i have been watching the girls team for 4 years now,,this was the poorest performance yet,,,i feel so let down with the lack of fight,,no tactics,,…only 3 players would get pass marks the keeper,,craig for scoring the pens …..and ross..hail hail…

  6. We saw last season with Flint the difference an EPL level player can make to the team and the outcome of games we play , well the Huns have about four of them and you get what you pay for ,they will buy this league and probably a treble like they bought there first one , meanwhile we pay James McCarthy £30 a week for fuck all , great turnout by the fans by the way a credit to the club ,unlike others . Hail hail .

  7. Good analysis of a disappointing game.

    I didn’t understand why we picked such an attacking line up with such a defensive formation. we committed so few to attack until we went 2:1 down.

    We need more midfield strength and a taller centre forward.

    I would exempt Daugherty, Barclay, Craig and Mengyu from the overall criticism