Spartans 1 Celtic 1
Seven days after Celtic overcame Spartans to reach the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup final, the two sides met once again on league duty at the Spartans’ home ground. It was an equally enthralling encounter, but a late equaliser from the home side left Celtic disappointed after having had the better of the exchanges throughout with a Maddie Fulton goal putting them ahead midway through the first half.
Once again this week Celtic rang the changes with skipper Kelly Clark, Ellis Dalgliesh, Courtney Whyte and Jamie-Lee Napier starting on the substitutes’ bench. Their places were taken by Kelsey Hodges, Heather Richards, Georgie Rafferty and Sarah Crilly.
There was an immediate scare for the Hoops when only minutes into the match a swift Spartans attack resulted in a clear-cut chance for the home side, but their attempt drifted wide. There was a swift response from Celtic when Kirsty Howat broke clear but her shot was also wide of the goal.
Within minutes it was clear that both teams were intent on an attacking approach to the game which made it an entertaining spectacle. Gradually the Celtic midfield were able to take a grip of their area and the Hoops began to enjoy the bulk of the possession. This resulted in a series shots at goal and two corners delivered from the left by Maddie Fulton who, along with Kirsty Howat, had looked the likeliest to open the scoring for Celtic.
Sarah Crilly was also seeing plenty of the ball and keeping the Spartans defence occupied with her pace and trickery on Celtic’s left wing.
Spartans were defending resolutely but they lost the services of goalkeeper Rachel Harrison who had to leave the field with a head injury after bravely saving one of Fulton’s dangerous corner-kick-deliveries.
She was replaced by Jo Viollaz whose almost immediate duty was to retrieve the ball from the net as Maddie Fulton took advantage of a break of the ball to strike a lofted left-foot shot home from outside the penalty area.
This lead after 20 minutes was no more than Celtic deserved as they had constantly probed the Spartans defence, although the home side, when they did have possession, looked lively and eager to attack without seriously threatening Megan Cunningham in Celtic’s goal.
This was a pattern which continued throughout the game – Celtic having the bulk of possession without adding to their score, and Spartans eager to counterattack when the occasion arose.
With the half-time score 1-0 neither side made a change and Celtic continued to press forward. Spartans keeper Viollaz had to look lively on several occasions with saves from Howat and Natalie Ross. A speculative lob from Kerry Montgomery landed on top of the crossbar as the game neared its end. This was followed by a fierce shot from substitute Suzanne Mulvey, well held by the goalkeeper.
It was Spartans, though, who eventually scored with five minutes left from a close-in shot by Zoe Johnson to earn themselves a draw which keeps them above the Hoops in the league table.
The best players for Celtic were Jaclyn Poucel, looking comfortable in her central defensive position, the ever-industrious Maddie Fulton who is always a goal threat and Kirsty Howat whose speed, skill and determination to get forward make her a handful for opponents.
Celtic: Cunningham, Poucel, Rafferty, Hodges, Ross, Montgomery, McFarlane (Ewens), Richards (Napier), Crilly, Howat (Mulvey) Fulton (Littlejohn). Subs not used: Whyte, Clark.
Reported by Celtic FC
Pictures Celtic FC