Celtic Women’s Academy 5 Stewart 6, Craig 12, Henderson 35, 67, Bell 79
Westerland Ladies 1 Wujec 89
Celtic Academy headed into the mid-season summer break level on points at the top of the table, after a couple of spectacular goals provided them with their ninth win of the campaign so far.
The game started fast as both sides created chances on goal from the off. The first goal came in only the 6th minute, and was typical of the end to end opening, as a Westerlands free kick that was in line with the edge of Celtic’s box was cleared up field before being chased and pressed all the way back to the edge of their own box by Alise Stewart. The striker latched on to a misjudged back pass to which she touched past the keeper before slotting it into the empty net.
Minutes later the hosts doubled their lead as Craig received the ball on the right touch line, took a touch inside and then curled her effort in from around 25 yards out. An impressive goal and an impressive start from the hosts.
Westerlands continued to fight and on the 23rd minute their persistence nearly paid off as a miscommunication between McAllister and Wands allowed Kuismanen to nip in to intercept and burst into the box but she could only direct her effort wide of the post. Only two minutes later another mix up in the Celtic defence, this time from a drop ball, gifted Macleod the ball with only Hamilton to beat 8 yards from goal. Hamilton saved her side with a fantastic save that was then cleared of any danger by the defence.
Westerlands continued to press and looked to have Celtic under real pressure, looking threatening going forward. Just after the half an hour mark, it looked certain than Macleod was going to get her goal, as some great build up play between Kuismanen and Duff allowed the striker to find herself in a similar position to before. Just like the previous occasion, the young keeper once again produced an outstanding save to ensure that the hosts maintained the two-goal cushion and displaying the quality she has.
Against the run of play, Celtic managed to increase their lead through another moment of brilliance, when Cara Henderson stepped up to a free kick 30 yards out and produced a fantastic attempt that beat Harkness in the visitor’s goal.
Westerlands did not lose and spirit and continued to cause the hosts problems right up until the half time whistle blew.
In the second half, Celtic started to see a little more of the ball and were preventing Westerlands creating as much danger in the final third, but themselves were equally struggling to break the visitors down.
The game remained like this until the 67th minute, where yet another moment of absolute quality increased the ghirl’s advantage. Cara Henderson stepped up to yet another free kick in almost an identical position to the first, yet this time placed it even better in the top right-hand corner. Undoubtedly the best goal of the game from a selection of fantastic strikes. It looked to have completely sealed the game with just over 20 minutes to go.
Yet, still Westerlands did not seem completely disheartened and continued to press hard for their own opener. Nicola Robinson was key to many of their attacks and came close on a number of occasions to pulling one back, but it was not quite going for the visitors.
It was once again Celtic who were next to score, with some fantastic team play down the left between McFarlane and Toolan, who overlapped the midfielder before cutting inside and playing the ball to the edge of the six-yard box which the on-running Bell latched on to, getting her name on the score sheet.
McFarlane herself had the opportunity to get her name on the sheet, as Henderson beat her player on the right to come inside along the Westerlands’ goal line, before cutting back to the midfielder who dragged her attempt narrowly wide of the far post.
The visitor’s fight paid off in the 89th minute as Wujec latched onto a through ball into the box and managed to lift it over Hamilton into the far corner, to get a well-deserved goal for her team.
The game ended 5-1, the score line flattered the host’s performance and the difference between the sides on the day.
The Academy will look to be much improved, performance wise, after the summer break as they face an intense title challenge. However, credit must be given to the quality of both the goals and saves that were on display from the home team and their ability to gain such a win even when not at their best.
Manager Michael Tuohy said after the match that “We feel that today was a positive result without being a particularly good performance. While our fluidity and ball movement was not as it has been in recent games, we showed a clinical side and took the vast majority of the chances we created. The players have worked hard and made impressive strides over the course of the first half of the season & can be very proud of their efforts. They deserve their rest for the next week before beginning their summer program and preparation for the second half of the season.”
Celtic XI: Hamilton, Warrington, Watson, McAllister, Simpson, Henderson, Wands, Molley, McFarlane, Craig, Stewart, Subs: Toolan, Skelton, Nagle, Bell
Westerlands XI: Harkness, Sheldon, Smith, McGregor, Coleman, Robinson, Duff, Morris, Finlay, Kuismanen, MacLeod
Subs: Cole, Crawford, Denny, Dougal, Watt, Wujec
Report: Scott Lewis