Celtic battled their way to the SWPL Cup final after a 2-1 victory over in-form Spartans. The Glasgow side went down early on to a Colette Cavanagh strike, but Kirsty Howat restored parity with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The second period was dominated by Celtic and they eventually made it tell when Suzanne Mulvey grabbed the winner and booked her side’s place in the final.
Spartans went into the game unbeaten, the only blemish on their record a 2-2 draw with Aberdeen. Celtic, on the other hand, were unbeaten until last Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to SWPL 1 leaders Hibernian. It was set to be a fascinating encounter and Celtic started the game brightly. However, Spartans form was clear and with 7 minutes on the clock, they took the lead. A quick break saw the ball fall to Cavanagh and she steered it past Megan Cunningham and into the net.
The game evened out with both sides settling into their rhythm. Celtic were dominating most of the possession and looking to carve out an opportunity. However, this suited Spartans to an extent as they looked to hit the Glasgow side on the break. Cavanagh, in particular, was instrumental to their play in the final third, holding the ball up and bringing players into play down the wing.
Celtic continued to test Spartans but were being limited to long-range efforts and failing to really test Rachel Harrison in goal. However, they managed to eventually get the eqauliser that they perhaps deserved. A ball through the Spartans defence caught them out and Howat latched onto it. She had plenty of work to do, but she did well to slide it under the advancing Harrison.
Both sides continued in a similar fashion and it appeared that they would go in level at the break. However, Spartans had one last chance. A free-kick right on the edge of the box could have been swung into the box, but Bobby Beveridge went for goal and hit the target. Cunningham held the shot well and even if she crossed the line, she made sure that the ball did not.
The second half began less even than the 45 minutes before it. Celtic began to really dominate possession and created chance after chance in the first 15 minutes. For all their chances though, they couldn’t find a goal and it remained level.
They needed something to change their luck and a treble substitution was made with around 23 minutes to go. It was to be one of those subs, Mulvey, that did eventually give Celtic the lead with 15 minutes left on the clock. A through ball put her in on goal and despite Harrison getting a touch on the ball, it eventually trickled into the net.
As the game came closer to the end, Spartans started to battle back. Sarah Clelland pushed forward for Spartans and created an opportunity for herself on the edge of the box. Her effort though didn’t really test Cunnigham and it was an easy take.
With a long break in play for an injury, the time to be added for both sides to find a goal was significant. Despite Spartans’ new lease of life, it was Celtic who continued to push forward. A great bit of play in injury time on the edge of the box found Heather Richards who forced a great save from Harrison.
Despite their efforts, it was too little too late for Spartans as they failed to create any clear chances in the second half and Celtic earned their cup final place. They will now look forward to the final on the 21st of May at Broadwood Stadium for a 16:05 KO against Hibernian.