Craig (PEN 65)
Celtic emerged victorious as new league leaders in the top of the table clash that could have allowed Hibs to have gone six points clear at the top.
Looking to extend the gap at the top and get revenge for last month’s cup final defeat to the Hoops, the Edinburgh side started fast and intensely. Cari Johnson was putting the Celtic defence under real pressure early on and not allowing them to settle into the game.
Hibs were dominant in the opening period of the game but Celtic managed to go very close to getting the opener 15 minutes in when Molley done some excellent work down the right hand side, weaving through five Hibs players to burst into the box and lay the ball to Craig, who turned and shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Minutes later Cairney picked the ball up in the centre of the park and spotted the darting run of Crilly down the right which she managed to find with an outstanding through ball. Crilly drove into the box, being pressured by Lowe, she took a touch and then rattled the crossbar with her effort. Celtic were beginning to get a hold in the game and look a real threat with every attack.
Cara Henderson created a great opportunity for herself on the half hour mark, using her strength and a quick burst of pace to create space for herself in the left-hand side of the box, but just as she went to shoot the ball just got away from her and she couldn’t control her attempt towards goal.
Right on the cusp of half time the Ghirls had another good chance as Wands won a flick on from Kerr’s goal kick, that found its way to Craig who flicked the ball over Lowe to try and create space for a shot, but Yates was first to it. Both sides went into the break level.
Celtic were the side who started the half quickest this time, as straight from kick off Crilly used her pace to press well and win the ball high up, laying it off to Henderson on the edge of the box who tested Yates in goal right from the off.
The hosts were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the Hibs box. Emma Craig stepped up to take it, her shot was blocked by the wall and allowed Hibs to counter at pace and pose a danger to the exposed Celtic defence. Johnson had an opportunity to shoot but was pressed well by McAllister and her shot was well off target.
After a small period of Hibs pressure, Craig received the ball on the half way line and played through Cairney excellently, who was through on goal but when she tried to cut back inside, lost the ball to the covering defender who managed to scramble the ball clear.
Hibs once again looked threatening from a counter attack, this time from a Celtic corner, where Kirsty Morrison played through Johnson, who was pressured all the way by Molley. The striker managed to get a shot away, but it went narrowly past the far post.
Minutes later they had another opportunity that looked like they were going to open the scoring from, when Leishman put in a delivery from the left into a dangerous area, Kerr came out and palmed the ball clear. It looked like Johnson was going to pick the ball up and finish it into the open goal, but a couple of fantastic key touches away from the striker by the home side eventually allowed them to get the ball away to safety.
On the 65th minute, Henderson delivered a ball into the box from a freekick that dropped down into a crowd around the penalty spot before being judged to have struck the hand of a Hibs player and the referee pointed to the spot. Emma Craig stepped up and slotted the ball in the bottom right corner to give her side the lead.
Straight away again, Celtic looked dangerous from the restart with Nicole Cairney getting the ball near the corner on the right and putting in a great, looping delivery to the back post which Crilly ran on to meet six yards out but could only direct her header at Yates.
Celtic made a number of changes with Alise Stewart replacing Megan Wands, Maxine Simpson replacing Darcy Molley and Rebecca McAllister, from the U19’s Academy, came on for Sarah Crilly.
Hibs had one final chance to leave with a point and their place at the top of the table as Johnson once again managed to break through to threaten, Watson however managed to get a vital last-minute block in that sent her shot over the bar and ensured her side end the day with the clean sheet and 3 points.
The full-time whistle seen Celtic go top of the league on goal difference and record their second win over Hibs in the space of a month.
Manager Michael Tuohy was delighted with his side’s performance and felt it reflected the girls continual progression, “We’re really pleased with the girl’s application and quality. Our aim for today was to continue the momentum that we have been building and we have managed to achieve that in our performance. Credit to Hibs, who gave us a really tough challenge. We feel that we are making positive strides week by week and the goal is now to prepare effectively again this week in training ahead of a different challenge next week against Cumbernauld.”
CELTIC XI: Kerr, Molley, Watson, P McAllister, Wattington, McGonigle, Henderson, Wands, Cariney 'C', Crilly Craig
SUBS: Simpson, Stewart, R McAllister
HIBS XI: Yates, Leisham, Aitchinson, Lowe, Jamieson, McCafferty, Smith, Dickov, Johnson, Turner, Morrison
SUBS: Fellenger, Reid, Maughan, Carmichael
Report: Scott Lewis