Molley (36, 70), Bell (46), Stewart (74)
McGarrell (10), Rae (56)
Celtic Academy returned to winning ways with a gutsy victory over Renfrew on Sunday afternoon.
The opening few minutes played out with both sides trying to figure out the others playing style and game plan. Celtic were adapting to a tweak to their system while Renfrew were playing extremely compact with a high line. Neither side was having great success early on with no clear-cut chances coming from opening play.
Renfrew took an early lead through a well worked set play, when Houston played a corner short into Ruponen who laid it back to her, Houston sent a high looping ball to the back post which was met by the run of McGarrell, who’s powerful header found the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, the hosts almost replied as Molley whipped a ball in from the corner of the box that curled round the line of defence to the feet of Stewart but she was judged to have been offside, a sign that Renfrew’s defensive tactics were paying off.
Molley was at the fore of Celtic’s pressure and went on a great run into the box, where her effort was narrowly deflected over the far post. With just under ten minutes to go before half time, her efforts paid off, as she finishes off some brilliant play to equalise. Some great link up play between Wands and Henderson on the edge of the area, before Henderson spotted the run of Molley and flicked the ball over the visitor’s line, into the area, where Molley was there to finish with a great half volley.
Celtic looked inspired from this and put Renfrew under some real pressure before the interval. Henderson picked the ball up on the half way line and went on a storming run past a number of players until she found herself 1 v 1 in the box with the keeper, but her shot was straight into the hands of McQuillan.
Celtic wasted no time in the second half, scoring with only a minute gone. Molley played the ball through to Bell, who was initially in an offside position but the ball took a deflection off the Renfrew centre back, the confusion in the visitors back line allowed Bell time to slot home and put her side into the lead.
Molley, in an opportunity similar to the previous goal, beat the high defensive line and found herself clear on goal with only McQuillan to beat, however she dragged her effort narrowly past the far left post.
Minutes later, Renfrew countered from a Celtic corner, as Baillie carried the ball into the box and was pressed by Molley. Molley tackled Baillie and was judged to have fouled her and the referee pointed to the spot. Rae stepped up to take the spot kick and sent Kerr the wrong way to equalise.
The game was now very much in the balance, with both sides having good chances and it was becoming very end to end.
Celtic were the first to make the breakthrough though, as Molley once again made a great run behind of the defence and managed to get into some space. She collected the ball on the right and brought it into the box, it looked as though she may have been trying to cross the ball into the back post for one of her team mates to run onto, but the ball drifted into the net. She will be delighted with what turned out to be a superb goal and claimed it was intentional.
Just four minutes later, the Ghirls doubled their advantage when Alise Stewart burst through and used her pace to take advantage of the high line, giving her time to calmly slot home and make the remainder of the game slightly more comfortable for the home side.
Celtic did not sit back and allow Renfrew to have a go in the last few minutes, they continued to press for another and went close on a number of occasions. Cara Henderson put in a brilliant delivery from a free kick on the edge of the area which Nagle got a head to, but she could not control her header and it flew over.
In the final minute of the game, Henderson went on a run identical to her one in the first half, breaking into the box and once again having only the keeper to beat but from more of an angle on this occasion. She was once again denied but this time by a good save from McQuillan.
The game finished 4-2 to the hosts, who will be delighted after finding themselves behind early on and then being pegged back in the second half.
Manager Michael Tuohy said that he was pleased with the way his team responded throughout the game, “We’re pleased with the way the girls responded to the challenges that Renfrew posed us today. After a sloppy first half we used the ball better in the second and we were a bit more fluid in our movement. Credit to the players as we have a few who are struggling with knocks and illness show they showed great character to put in their performance today.”
CELTIC XI: KERR, WATSON, P. McALLISTER, NAGLE, MOLLEY, HENDERSON, R. McALLISTER, SHEARER, WANDS, AHIRA, STEWART.
SUBS: BROWN, MACFARLANE, BELL.
RENFREW XI: McQUILLAN, McMURRAY, McGARRELL, McGUNNIGLE, LAIRD, CALDWELL, HOUSTON, FITZPATRIK, BAILLIE, SMITH, RUPONEN.
SUBS: LAGAN, RAE, McDONALD, McDOWELL, WHITEHALL,O’NEILL, GOULD.