(Grant 30, Richards 67, Littlejohn 86)
Forfar Farmington 1
What many had anticipated would be a straightforward Scottish Cup tie for Celtic turned out to be anything but, as Forfar Farmington proved to be resilient opponents. With the game in the balance and the score 1-1 deep into the second-half, it took late goals from recent signings Heather Richards and Ruesha Littlejohn to seal a place in the quarter finals with a 3-1 victory.
The opening exchanges were evenly-contested, and although Celtic probably had slightly more of the ball, they were unable to advance into the Angus team’s territory. Indeed, the early attempts on goal came from Forfar, but Megan Cunningham’s goal was not threatened.
All this changed after 26 minutes when a dangerous header from Forfar’s McCarthy was tipped on to the crossbar and over with Cunningham at full stretch. The resulting corner was met by Gallacher’s head and the ball flashed high into the Celtic net.
Although Celtic had had the probably the better of the exchanges they had been unable to find a productive passing rhythm, and the away side’s lead was not entirely undeserved.
As Celtic continued to probe, Alex Middleton and Kirsty Howat became prominent, attacking down the right, with Natalie Ross pulling all the midfield strings. Several crosses were fired into the Forfar box, but their goal was never seriously threatened.
After 30 minutes, the Hoops won a corner on the right. Middleton’s delivery was perfect and it was hooked in by Abbi Grant from point-blank range to level the scores.
Only minutes later Middleton again was racing towards the Forfar penalty area, but was brought down just outside the box. The resulting free kick from Heather Richards was easily dealt with by the Forfar defence.
Shortly after the restart, Hoops keeper Cunningham had again to look sharp to deal with a high net-bound shot, which she touched over the bar at full stretch.
It took the home side until the hour mark to begin to make their overall superiority tell in terms of shots at goal. Suzanne Mulvey hit a shot directly at keeper McNicoll, and a Middleton effort was blocked.
This was followed by a dangerous corner from Richards which was cleared. But it was Richards to the rescue, however, in 62 minutes when she left her deep-lying position in midfield to pop up in the penalty area. When the ball fell into her path, it took an awkward high bounce but the faintest of touches allowed the ball to trundle agonisingly slowly into the net.
There was relief all around because, although Celtic were completely in control of the game, Forfar continued to work hard, still making the occasional foray into Celtic’s half.
Substitute Ruesha Littlejohn completed the scoring minutes from the end when she ran on to a clever through pass from Joanne Paton, steadied herself and fired a right-foot shot across the keeper into goal.
When picking Player of the Match, consideration must be given to goalkeeper Megan Cunningham whose handling was secure throughout, with two exceptional saves when Forfar were very much in the game.
Alex Middleton was prominent throughout, especially with her dangerous attacking. Relieved of her defensive duties for much of the game following a change of formation, she was Celtic’s greatest threat.
Exselgroup’s Player of the Match award, though, was won by Natalie Ross (pictured above), who was outstanding in midfield throughout the match.
Celtic: Cunningham, Middleton (Connolly 85), Clark(c), Whyte, Rafferty (Montgomery 60), Ross, Dalgliesh, Richards (Littlejohn 75), Grant ( Cavanagh 85), Mulvey, Howat (Paton 73). Subs not used Gibson, McBrearty.
Reported by Celtic FC
Picture: Celtic FC