Celtic Women lose out in Battle of the Greens
(Ewens 29, McGovern 41)
Report/Image: Celtic FC
A good first-half performance saw Celtic battle back from 2-0 down with goals from Sarah Ewens and Kathleen McGovern levelling the scores at half-time. Hibernian, however, proved too strong for the Hoops in the second half and scored five goals without reply.
Celtic started the game brightly and had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth minute. Kathleen McGovern did well to hold off a Hibs defender and play a ball for Ewens to run on to, but her shot was well saved by the Hibs goalkeeper.
The home side took the lead in the 20th minute from a long-range shot and eight minutes later they doubled their advantage.
Celtic responded well and from the restart went straight up the park and reduced the deficit. Ewens showed great skill and power holding off a defender and spinning in behind. With only the goalkeeper to beat, she dispatched the ball into the net.
The Hoops continued to play on the front foot and equalised in the 41st minute with a fine goal from McGovern when she unleashed an unsaveable shot into the top left corner. This was just reward for her endeavour and link-up play throughout the game.
After the break, Hibs put Celtic under periods of sustained pressure and after the hour mark, they were 4-2 ahead following two set pieces. Hibs continued to play with a high tempo and attacked in numbers as well as being ruthless in front of goal. Celtic struggled to mount a comeback and it was Hibernian who sealed the points with three further goals.
After the match, stand-in Celtic coach, Stevie Burr said: “We’re disappointed with the result and disappointed with the second half after showing great character to get back into the game from being two goals down. We must continue to work hard in training and ensure we learn from our mistakes.”
Celtic: Mutch, Keenan (O’Neill), Craig, McCulloch, Cavanagh, Ross (Adams), Clark, Ewens, Crilly (Cairney), McGovern, Donaldson (Giard).
Subs not used: Crosbie, Rafferty, Knox.
Hibernian earned an emphatic 7-2 victory over Celtic following a second half goal flurry on Sunday afternoon, writes Robbie Castle.
Report & Image: Hibernian FC
Hibernian: Fife, Brownlie, Notley, Hunter, Michie; Reilly, Robertson, Cornet; Gallacher, Napier, Harrison. Subs: Williamson, McLauchlan, Tweedie, Davidson, Murray, McKay.
Another rainy afternoon at Ainslie Park; another dominant performance from the Hibees. This week, Hibernian took on Celtic, who would be feeling buoyant following their 4-1 victory over Hamilton Accies last weekend.
Hibernian, however, put in a thoroughly professional and convincing performance putting seven past the visitors, as the game finished 7-2. Despite Hibernian being dominant, Celtic clawed their way back into the game having been two goals down, to make it two a piece by the interval. The Hibees came flying out the traps for the second half, and blasted five past their opponents, ensuring an emphatic victory.
The result ensures that Hibernian remain joint-top of the league, with five games to go, as well now boasting 22 wins in a row against Celtic, dating back five years.
THE MAIN TALKING POINTS
For much of the opening 10 minutes, Celtic contained Hibernian within their own half, through an impressively solid heavy press. This tactic forced the first chance of the game Celtic’s way, where Sarah Ewens found herself one-on-one with Jenna Fife, forcing the Scotland internationalist into making a fantastic save to prevent the visitors scoring the opening goal of the game.
Hibs began to grow more into the game, with Jamie-Lee Napier causing the Celtic defence problems down the wing forcing a corner on the ten-minute mark. The Hibees began to press on from this, with Abi Harrison coming whiskers wide following a deflection shortly after. Hibernian continued to trouble the Celtic back line through this period of the game, with both Kirsten Reilly and Amy Gallacher forcing the visitor’s keeper into action.
The breakthrough finally happened in the 21st minute. Napier showcased some great skill, before laying off the ball for Chelsea Cornet to score an absolute screamer from outside the box.
Not long after the game restarted, the lead was nearly doubled – Harrison got in to the position to square the ball across goal, finding Gallacher who put the ball low to the keeper’s left, and just inches wide of the post.
In the 27th minute, the lead was doubled by Harrison, who claimed the first of her hat-trick. Another fantastic goal from outside of the box.
Celtic replied pretty much as the game restarted, with an incisive through ball finding Ewens, who slotted home, pushing the ball to Fife’s bottom right on the 28-minute mark.
The match intensified, with plenty of hard 50-50s, and the ball largely remaining in the middle. Hibs looked strong to increase their advantage, however, in the 40th minute, Celtic found the equaliser, adding another screamer to the game. There was absolutely nothing Fife could do about it, as Kathleen McGovern found the top corner of the Hibs net. The match went into the break at 2-2.
As the second half kicked off, Hibernian came flying out the traps, forcing the Celtic defence considerable pressure. Emma Brownlie nearly found the back of the net, following a curling ball, which looked destined for the top corner, going agonisingly wide in the 48th minute. The pressure continued, as many balls were whipped into the box, forcing anxious clearances from the Celtic back line. Hibs finally took back the lead on the 56 minute mark, when a Lisa Robertson corner, heading for Brownlie at the back post was bundled into the net by one of Celtic’s defensive players.
Four minutes later, another Robertson corner, who was captaining the side, resulted in another Hibs goal – this time through a powerful header from Siobhan Hunter. Hibs kept up the pressure, before Harrison scored her second of the game, as the floodgates opened. Harrison scored with a low ball from the edge of the box, following a scramble in the area, seeing shots from both Harrison and Cailin Michie blocked by the defence, before she took her second chance, making no mistake to make it 5-2 in the 72nd minute.
Just two minutes later, Napier found the back of the net, after some stunning wing play, before cutting in through the defence, and curling the ball across goal into the top right-hand corner on the 74th minute to make it 6-2.
The Hibees kept up the pressure, with Celtic appearing fairly resigned to a heavy defeat, with their main ambition to mitigate any further damage. This worked until the 89th minute, before Harrison’s effort deflected into the back of the net to complete her hat-trick, with the game finishing 7-2.
THOUGHTS FROM THE CAMP
In his post-match interview, Head Coach Grant Scott said: “It was first-class. I’m really, really pleased with the performance today. We had a bit of a scare from them just before half-time. I thought we were playing the better football – they were just more clinical, taking their chances.
“We weren’t too disappointed with our play. I just asked them to relax a bit more, trust themselves a bit more, and the girls just took that right into the second half and totally dominated.
“The domination of a good team like Celtic was really impressive from the players today. We didn’t make any subs, as we felt we had lots of momentum in the game, but on top of all that, we kept to our game plan – the players took what we said at half time, and stepped it up a gear in the second half, which was really pleasing.”
Hat-trick hero, Abi Harrison commented on the game, and on facing her former club: “In the second half, we showed our quality. Overall, we can be happy with the performance – mainly the second half, it’s a win, and that’s what we needed.
“We never stop – we know that it is tight at the top of the table just now, and it could come down to goal difference, so we just need to go for it in every game. The three points is the most important thing, but the goals are good too.
“It’s exciting – we’re all here, and have the same aims, and that’s the league. We’re under no illusion that it’ll be hard, but we went out, and everything we did today has worked. We’ve put ourselves in a really good position, so we have to keep that momentum up, and keep winning games.
“It’s going to be a tough end of the season. Obviously, we’ve got a tough game, the second last game of the season, but we’re confident in our ability – we don’t change for other teams, and we’re comfortable that on our day we can beat anyone – we’ve shown that this season – we’ve beat everyone, we don’t fear anyone – we just play our own game.”