Report/Image: Celtic FC
Celtic tumbled out of the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup despite a spirited performance and good possession of the ball.
It was Spartans, though, who made the most of their scoring opportunities and a two-goal burst inside two minutes of the second half, sealed the game for the hosts.
There was an early warning for the Hoops when goalkeeper Emily Mutch did really well to clutch a shot down at her post and, shortly after, the defence was again breached, but the Spartans shot flew wide.
For Celtic, Natalie Ross, making only her second start since the summer break, brought an aggression and sense of urgency to the midfield. This was infectious, and Colette Cavanagh, Kathleen McGovern and Sarah Ewens were galvanised into a series of fast attacking movements. No real chances resulted against a very compact Spartans defence and the home team continued to attack Celtic at every opportunity.
This paid off for Spartans when they took the lead after 14 minutes with a well-struck shot low into the net.
It remained 1-0 at the interval, but with game continuing to ebb and flow, there was no real indication of who’d come out on top.
Spartans were immediately on the attack and dangerous as the second period began, firstly hitting the bar, and moments later, firing a cross-shot narrowly past.
Celtic were by no means out of it at this stage, and Ewens and Cavanagh in particular were always a threat.
All this was to change, however, when Spartans increased their lead to 3-0 with goals in the 55th and 57th minutes after counter-attacks.
Celtic continued to press and one measured pass from Cavanagh to McGovern spit the home defence. The Hoops striker aimed to change the direction of the ball past the keeper, but she did not make the desired contact and the chance was lost.
In the 70th minute, McGovern burst past the defenders on the left and rolled the ball across the face of the goal for Josi Giard to score.
It had been a frustrating afternoon for Celtic, and at the end manager Eddie Wolecki Black said: “Obviously we are all very disappointed, not only in the manner of defeat but also the performance.
“We gave ourselves an uphill battle by losing an early goal which not only dented our confidence but also gave the hosts a boost.
“Sadly for us, the game was lost in both boxes as we failed to capitalise upon our chances and made basic defensive errors at the other end. This combination usually leads to the inevitable outcome.
“I know the players are very disappointed and, like me, know we have missed an opportunity to progress further in the Scottish Cup.”
Celtic: Mutch, Knox (O’Neill, Keenan), Crosbie, Craig, Cavanagh, Donaldson (Adams), Clark, Ross, Giard, (Cairney), McGovern, Ewens.
Subs not used: McCulloch, Rafferty.