Celtic Women march on in League Cup….
Report & Picture: Celtic FC
Hamilton Academical 0
(Giard 38 & 59, Donaldson 90)
Celtic showed their best form of the season so far, especially in the second half. In this, a club-record fourth successive game without conceding a goal, two goals from Josephine Giard and an exciting strike by Rachel Donaldson saw them earn a 3-0 victory and a place in the League Cup semi-finals.
Kiera Gibson took over from the injured Megan Cunningham in goal, with Claire Adams and Rachel Donaldson also starting.
The opening spell was almost entirely played in the Hamilton half, with Colette Cavanagh and Littlejohn linking well on the left and Donaldson bringing her attacking pace on the right.
The first opportunity fell to Giard who headed over. Littlejohn had an even better chance in the sixth minute when she met a high, looping cross from Donaldson but her header drifted agonisingly wide.
The Hoops continued to attack down both wings hoping for an early lead, but the compact Accies defence was standing firm.
However, the best clear-cut scoring chance of the day fell to Hamilton when they stole the ball with the Celtic defence short of numbers. Gibson saved her team with a brave reaction save to knock the attacker’s fierce shot to safety.
A series of Celtic corners failed to produce the opener, but in the 38th minute, Giard put the Hoops ahead.
Another dangerous cross from the right was contested by Accies’ Lindsay and Giard but it was the Hoops striker who got there first, steering the ball home with the top of her head.
This goal settled Celtic and they played out the remainder of the half with confidence, passing the ball around at pace and making the home side work really hard to contain them.
The second period saw the same confident approach with Keeva Keenan and Donaldson on the right producing the greatest threat. Natalie Ross also became more prominent with her trademark mix of aggressive tackling and delicate touches.
In spite of their enterprising attacking, Celtic could not add to their lead until almost an hour of the match had elapsed. Again it was Josie Giard who scored, this time with a close-in touch after two shots had been blocked by the packed Accies defence.
Losing that second goal galvanised the home side, and they produced their best period of the match, attacking with pace and skill at every opportunity.
It was during this middle spell of the second half that Gibson showed what a first-class goalkeeper she is, making a series of brave blocks at the feet of the Hamilton attackers.
As the game wound down, both sides made a series of substitutions. Then, right at the end, right-back Keenan made another lung-bursting sprint forward before releasing a clever pass into Donaldson’s path. The midfielder struck it with force and the ball flew into the top corner for what was undoubtedly the highlight of the afternoon for the Celtic fans.
Celtic: Gibson, Keenan, Rafferty, McCulloch, Cavanagh, Clark, Littlejohn, Adams (Richards), Ross (Ewens), Giard (Pullar), Donaldson. Subs not used: Cairney, McGovern, O’Neill, Connor