Celtic Academy retain SWFL1 Cup with sensational 6-0 win
Report: Celtic FC
Image: Lorraine Hill
A lethal Emma Craig hat-trick helped ensure the SWFL Division 1 Cup stayed green and white as Celtic Academy blew away Renfrew Ladies, winning 6-0 at Ainslie Park to make it two-in-a-row.
It was a third successive SWFL Division One Cup Final for the Celts, who turned in a blistering first-half performance seeing them take a commanding 4-0 lead into the interval through Darcy Molley, Megan Wands, Chloe Warrington and Craig, before the winger completed her hat-trick in the second half.
The first-half 13-minute blitz and determined showing meant the youthful Hoops retained their championship exactly a year to the day at the scene of 2018’s triumph.
Celtic didn’t take long to test the physical Renfrew side, with Craig, Wands, Molley and Tegan Bowie all throwing themselves forward. The opener came in the 22nd minute through brilliant work by Molley. After latching onto Wands’ pass, she drew McQuillan off her line rounded her and coolly slotted the ball into the far corner beyond the defence.
Four minutes later, Wands got in on the act herself, connecting with Craig’s cross from the edge of the box to knock it in off the post from point blank range and double the Hoops’ advantage. It only took another two minutes for Celtic to find net again, after lovely play in the middle from Wands and Kenzi Brown, Craig drove towards the near post, before squaring it for the awaiting Warrington to blast home, giving the Hoops a 3-0 lead after only 28 minutes.
Ten minutes until the break, Cara Henderson was brought down from behind on the edge of the box, allowing Craig to step up to the spot and calmly nestle it beyond McQuillan’s left.
The Hoops returned for the second period, eager to add to the scoreline, but despite efforts from Wands and Craig, the fifth didn’t come until the 72nd minute. Brown headed on for Craig, who sped into the area before sending her shot across goal off the far post, but she made no mistake when it came back out to her and knocked in with ease for her second.
And she completed her hat-trick with the pick of the bunch five minutes later. A fantastic solo effort, Craig collected the ball from Paige McAllister just inside the Renfrew half to dance through the centre and slot it home beyond the onrushing McQuillan.
Despite creating further opportunities, the Celts’ sensational six helped them keep ahold of the cup in style, with Emma Craig unsurprisingly being awarded player of the match. Head coach David Haley said he couldn’t ask for anything more from his side.
Celtic Academy now play Rangers Development on Sunday 19 May at Calderglen High, KO: 2pm.