Wins today will see both Celtic sides go top of the league, looking down on the Rangers

Spartans are the visitors to the Excelsior Stadium today, as Celtic FC Women look to take advantage of theRangers Champions League commitments to go top of the SWPL table.

The Ibrox club’s fixture is postponed to allow for theRangers to play PAOK in their Women’s Champions League first-round final after overcoming Ferencvaros last time out, whilst Scotland’s other representatives Glasgow City were defeated by Roma.

Today’s Celtic v Spartans fixture was originally due to start at 2pm today, however, a welcome dose of common sense has seen Celtic move the fixture to 12pm to allow fans the opportunity to see both the Celtic FC Women’s game and the men’s team who kick off against Hearts at 3pm at Celtic Park.

Head coach Fran Alonso, speaking to The Celtic Star, Cynic Women and Chinese media ahead of this afternoon’s game with Spartans, was asked about the opportunity to gain a psychological edge early in the title race, if Celtic could defeat Spartans and put daylight between Celtic and theRangers – who like Celtic have won both their opening SWPL fixtures and sit top of the league courtesy of a superior goal difference.

At this stage of the season however, Fran insists it’s too early to consider places in the table but is keen for his side to maintain their 100% start to the season rather than focus on establishing some daylight at the top of the league, looking down on theRangers…

“We don’t think about what position we have on the table at this moment in time, what is important for us is to get three wins in a row and if we can do this with a clean sheet we will be delighted.

“It’s early days, if it was in the last two months of competition I think, yes, having points rather than games in hand that’s psychological and can help but it’s only three games in so it doesn’t really matter, but it would be amazing for us to have a 100% record after three games. I would love that.”

Goals have been in plentiful supply in the SWPL this season right across the board with 30 shared amongst the top three sides alone after the opening set of fixtures, nine of those coming from Celtic in an opening day win against Hibs.

Since then, Celtic emerged with a 2-0 win over Partick Thistle on the narrow plastic pitch at Petershill Park last weekend – a surface Alonso has admitted doesn’t suit his team’s style of play.

As such the drop off in goals was no concern, instead a win in tricky conditions was more than acceptable, given the manager didn’t expect a repeat of the nine goals scored on the opening day of the season.

“Yes I was asked after week one about the 30 goals that the top 3 scored and I said it was unrealistic and it won’t happen often and you saw for us it was very difficult.”

“I think Partick Thistle were very well organised, they didn’t allow space. The conditions, the pitch dimensions also made it very difficult to attack and easier to defend so we found it very so found it very difficult, they were very good defensively of course.”

“But we got three points and I am delighted. We didn’t expect to win 7-0 or 8-0 so hopefully we can get the three points as many times as possible. In the other game (Motherwell v Glasgow City), in the last kick of the game Glasgow City managed to get the three points and everyone that that would end in a draw.”

“That’s very good for the league, even games that can go either way and I think we will see more like that. Every single squad this year is strong so I would expect that every game, for us I would expect even games every time we play this season.”

Today’s visitors Spartans caused Celtic a great deal of difficulty in the corresponding fixture last season, holding the Celts to a 1-1 draw in a game Spartans took the lead, and Celtic, despite enough chances created to win more than one game, had to settle for a share of the spoils with a leveller three minutes from time.

This season Spartans have won one and lost one from their opening two league matches, defeating Hearts last time out after losing heavily to Glasgow City 7-0 on the opening day of the season, so what is Alonso expecting from the Edinburgh club this lunchtime?

“You saw that fixture last year, we dropped two points, despite creating 27 chances, so we expect a team that are going to give 150%. They always play the best they can against Celtic and we expect a very tough game. But for us it’s important to concentrate on ourselves. If we are at our best, if we are do what we are doing in training on match day then we will be successful. We will be able to impose our game, but definitely we don’t under-estimate Spartans.”

“We know that in the first game they had a very bad result but they managed to beats Hearts, who are a very strong side on the weekend so for sure it’s a very tough opponent that won’t be under-estimated and to get the three points we’ll have to be at our best. If not, we won’t get the three points.”

So far this season Celtic have looked an improved side. Lucy Ashworth-Clifford has added balance to Celtic’s left-hand side, with pacey direct ball carrying capabilities that so far, the opposition have struggled to cope with.

Meanwhile the return of Lisa Robertson to the midfield engine room after spending last season on loan in the WSL with Birmingham has seen a controlling and physical presence in a midfield that could have been accused of all to easily bullied in games last season.

Further forward new signing Amy Gallacher has fitted in seamlessly to the team, and the more consistent game changing qualities of Jacynta have continued their upward trajectory from the second half of last season, whilst Clarissa Larisey is thriving in her role up front, despite having the unenviable task of replacing the goals of the now departed Charlie Wellings.

With the Excelsior Stadium offering the size of playing surface that should suit Fran Alonso’s playing philosophy – as we saw evidenced with the thumping win over Hibs – the new playing surface laid in Airdrie has also been to Celtic’s benefit.

Add to that the new signings have settled well – and those who decided to remain with Celtic this season have arguably improved already on the last campaign. As such there is a feeling Celtic are much better prepared for a title race this season, even if the manager understandably thinks it’s too early at this stage to be looking to positions in the league table.

Spartans should offer a physical test for Celtic this afternoon, and although expectations are tempered somewhat by the corresponding fixture last season, Glasgow City’s 7-0 win over today’s opponents is the barometer for Celtic when it comes to today’s fixture.

IMAGO / Pro Sports Images. Celtic Women v Hibernian Women Scottish Womens Premier League 1 07/08/2022. Goal! 1-0 Jacynta Galabadaarachchi ( 8) Photo Colin Poultney PSI

As Fran Alonso states, three points is very much the priority, but a healthy return of goals would also be welcome in a league campaign where goal difference is simply always crucial.

A win today will have Celtic looking down on theRangers in the SWPL league table, and you can still buy tickets one in advance – by following this LINK  – or you can pay at the gate on the day. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for under 16’s – and are priced perfectly for a family day out at the football – and the chance to see Celtic go top of the SWPL table.


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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