(Pullar 26, 49, Littlejohn 52)
Celtic began their 2018 summer season in near-zero temperatures and flurries of snow, with a comfortable 3-0 win over Glasgow neighbours, Rangers. A goal in each half by debutante Nicole Pullar and a second- half strike by Ruesha Littlejohn saw the Hoops win the points.
Keeva Keenan also made her first start for Celtic with other new signings Claire Crosbie, Rachel Donaldson and Claire Adams on the bench.
The home side looked fit and enterprising as they immediately took the game to Rangers with a shot from Sarah Ewens blocked after seven minutes. Celtic won several early corners and Rangers keeper Kym Ramsay was kept very busy.
There was almost continuous pressure from the Hoops, with a Kelly Clark header and a Littlejohn shot saved by the Rangers goalkeeper. Clear-cut chances were scarce, but after 24 minutes Ewens powered down the left and saw her shot rebound from the post. This was followed by a strike from Pullar, again saved by Ramsay.
Throughout the first half-hour the driving forces for Celtic were skipper Kelly Clark, Heather Richards, Maddie Fulton and Ruesha Littlejohn. The direct running of forwards Ewens and Pullar kept the Rangers defence on the back foot.
The breakthrough for Celtic was well-deserved when, after 26 minutes, following a six-yard box scramble from a Richards corner, several close-range shots were saved by Ramsay or blocked by defenders before Pullar got the final touch to nudge the ball home.
Just before the interval, Celtic goalkeeper Megan Cunningham came to the rescue as Rangers had one of their rare attacks. The ball broke to Hay who looked certain to score, but her shot was cleverly saved by Cunningham.
The second half began well for Celtic as they increased their lead within minutes of the restart when Pullar’s determination saw her knock the ball home following a corner. Almost immediately after this, the points were all but sealed when Ewens set up Littlejohn to score the Hoops’ third.
Celtic continued to keep the Rangers goalkeeper busy, but couldn’t add to their tally. New signings Claire Adams and Rachel Donaldson were given their first taste of action in green and white as second-half substitutes.
Ruesha Littlejohn had an outstanding afternoon: fast, fit and industrious throughout. Nicole Pullar will be well pleased with her debut, with her two goals and dangerous attacking doing much to seal the victory.
Celtic: Cunningham, Keenan, Rafferty, McCulloch, Cavanagh (Connor), Clark, Fulton (Adams), Littlejohn, Ewens, Richards, Pullar (Donaldson). Subs not used: Gibson, Crosbie, Middleton.
Report & Picture: Celtic FC