(Howat 35, Mulvey 74)
Celtic took a step closer to lifting the first silverware of the 2017 season when they beat Spartans 2-1 in the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup semi-final on Sunday. Now, only Hibernian stand between the Hoops and the trophy, with the final looming on the horizon later this month.
The Celts sprang the first surprise of the weekend by announcing that they had re-signed last season’s top goal scorer, Suzanne Mulvey, and she had an immediate impact on her return to the club, scoring the semi-final winner just four minutes after coming on as a substitute, adding to Kirsty Howat’s first-half strike.
Celtic rang the changes from the previous weekend, introducing Ellis Dalgliesh and Maddie Fulton to the starting XI, with Kirsty Howat in the main striker’s role, and it was apparent that Howat was determined to take advantage of the confidence shown in her by playing with determination, aggression and no little skill in the opening phase of the match.
The Hoops enjoyed the majority of possession in the early exchanges, but were caught on the counter-attack after seven minutes. Former Celtic Academy player, Colette Cavanagh won possession and calmly placed the ball beyond the reach of Hoops keeper Megan Cunningham.
However, the early setback didn't upset Celtic’s rhythm and they continued to press forward, creating a number of chances. A fierce drive from Howat was turned round the post by Spartans goalkeeper Rachel Harrison at full-stretch, and this was followed by strikes by Natalie Ross and Maddie Fulton.
And on 35 minutes, the Hoops got the goal that their play deserved. Fulton, making her first start of the season, played in Howat who finished well from close-range to level the scores.
The second-half continued in a similar vein, with Celtic maintaining their grip on the midfield, but chances were scarce. Spartans continued to play on the counter-attack at every opportunity, but Hoops’ keeper Cunningham dealt confidently with anything which came her way.
With 20 minute remaining, Hoops manager David Haley made a triple substitution, introducing Suzanne Mulvey, Sarah Ewens and Sarah Crilly to the fray, and the impact was almost immediate.
Within four minutes, Mulvey superbly timed a run into the penalty area to gather a precise pass from Kerry Montgomery and fire home a shot that evaded the Spartans keeper and ended up in the net to put the Hoops 2-1 ahead.
Heather Richards came close to extending Celtic’s lead with a superb shot that was well-saved, but the two goals were enough to give the Hoops the victory and a place in the League Cup final.
CELTIC: Cunningham, Poucel, Whyte, Clark, McFarlane, Dalgliesh (Richards), Ross, Montgomery, Fulton (Mulvey), Napier (Crilly), Howat (Ewens).
Subs Gibson, Hodges, Rafferty.
Reported by Celtic FC
Picture Celtic FC