BIFFA SCOTTISH WOMEN’S CUP FINAL MATCH REPORT by Jack Carson
Fran Alonso’s girls showed their character as Celtic Women saw off defending champions Glasgow City in extra time in an incredible Biffa Women’s Scottish Cup final in front of around 5,000 fans. Celtic showed their class as they put forward a heroic display with nine players, after Jodie Bartle saw red after 40 minutes at Tynecastle.
Coming into the game Celtic had made a major change to their line-up from the semi-final vs Hearts bringing in Larisey to play on the left-hand side of the Celtic defence and leaving out the PFA team of the year nominee Chloe Craig.
Glasgow City, meanwhile, came into the game on the back of losing their first league campaign in 14 years as well as a defeat to Celtic in the League Cup final earlier this season. Eileen Gleeson’s side had been ruthless en route to the final with 9-0,8-0 and 6-0 wins before dispatching fellow Glaswegians Partick Thistle 3-1 in the semi-final.
The final kicked off at a ferocious pace, both Glasgow City and Celtic were looking to press the opposition high into their opponent’s half which led to both sides struggling to break into the final third. The best chance of the opening stages fell to Celtic’s top scorer Charlie Wellings’ whose shot was excellently saved by the legs of Glasgow City shot stopper Lee Alexander, while at the other end Megan Foley’s cross clipped the crossbar.
It took until the 19th minute for the first goal, and it was Celtic who would break the deadlock. Excellent play from Celtic Wing-Back Clarissa Larisey saw her find the lively Jacynta Galabadaarachchi in open space, who then marvellously floated a ball to the back post and found an on-running Megyu Shen who picked the ball out the air and then smashed the ball past a helpless Alexander in-goal.
The cup holders weren’t down long however, as 5 minutes later Glasgow City’s industrious captain Hayley Lauder whipped in a clever free kick that evaded all Celtic defenders and found Jenna Clark, who deflected the ball into the back of the net to even up the score.
Celtic then found themselves leading the game after more magic from the combination of Jacynta and Larisey proved to be too much for Glasgow City to handle. A through ball from Jacynta found Larisey isolated against Glasgow City goal scorer Clark who couldn’t avoid taking down the makeshift wingback to hand Celtic an opportunity to regain the lead from 12 yards.
Celtic’s top scorer Wellings took on the responsibility from the spot and sent Alexander the wrong way, slotting the ball straight into the bottom corner. Incredibly, the penalty was Wellings’ 40th goal of her debut season.
The final wouldn’t remain in Celtic’s favour for much longer as in the 40th minute Jodie Bartle received a straight red card for pulling back Glasgow City’s Priscila Chinchilla as she was looking to get on the end of a dangerous cross.
Lauren Davidson stepped up to the spot for City and brought them back level once again. Davidson left Celtic keeper Rachel Johnstone stranded as she confidently converted and put Glasgow City into the driver seat for the remainder of the game.
City used the extra player to impose on the midfield, but Celtic successfully restricted chances and broke quickly in counter attack.
Indeed, the 10 women of Celtic continued to show courage and commitment, both in and out of possession. The decision to leave two strikers on the field even when going down a player proved to be an inspired one, as it helped Celtic attack the high line of Glasgow city with runners in behind.
This should’ve won Celtic the game in normal time as Wellings found herself on the end of a through ball and then managed to take it around the Glasgow City keeper. Yet with the goal gaping Celtic’s star striker couldn’t convert, putting the ball over the bar with an empty-net in front of her.
The deadlock wouldn’t be broken until the second half of extra time, as with penalties looming Celtic Substitute Izzy Atkinson excellently dispatched the ball low under the body of Lee Alexander giving her side the lead going into the dying moments of the game.
It proved to be written in the stars for Fran Alonso’s side who had played the game with only 10 players for 80 minutes and managed to hold onto their lead at the end to bring home a historic cup double.
The Celtic fans both at home and in attendance will have been filled with pride at a valiant and courageous performance that secured a cup double after an 11-year trophy drought at Tynecastle. City meanwhile, despite a strong performance, will be reeling after ending a season without a trophy for the first time since 2005.