Celtic put in an impressive display as they returned from the summer break with a 3-1 victory against rivals Rangers to move clear in second of the Scottish Building Society Scottish Women’s Premier League 1 at a busy and boisterous K Park.
Celtic came into the game knowing that a win would be a must if they were to have any chance of being successful in their chase of league leaders Glasgow City whilst Rangers returned to action after a summer of change which saw Gregory Vignal take the reins along with a much heralded move for the side to the Hummel Training Centre, and as a result both sides came out the blocks quickly.
It would be Celtic though who would have the best of the opening period. On the seventh minute Sarah Ewens was the recipient of a poor kick out from Rangers keeper Khym Ramsay but she could only put her effort wide.
Despite that it wouldn’t take long for the home side to seize the advantage. After 14 minutes a Ewens corner bounced around the area before falling to the Scotland U19 international, Kathleen McGovern, who rifled the opener into the roof of the net.
Rangers had matched up well to the physicality of Celtic in the early stages but in the 21st minute they found themselves two down. A classy through ball from midfielder Natalie Ross split the ‘Gers defence and sent the ever dangerous Ewens through one on one. The striker then showed great composure to take the ball in her stride before rounding Ramsay to slide home a second for the Hoops.
Buoyed by an exuberant home support the Celtic pressure continued with both Ewens and McGovern being denied on multiple occasion by a combination of Ramsay and wasteful finishing.
Rangers first half chances were limited to long-range Chelsie Watson free kicks and a flurry from winger Chantelle Brown towards the end of the half but it would be a comfortable 45 minutes for the returning Chloe Logan in the Celtic goal.
The home side all but sealed the victory four minutes after the break when captain Kelly Clark found herself on the end of a deep left wing corner with her effort proving too hot to handle for Ramsay.
Rangers did get one back a few minutes later through the returning Brogan Hay. After her jinking run and effort was tipped over the bar by Logan, the attacker was the quickest to react to a rebound on the 53rd minute to tap home and reduce the deficit to two but that would be the end of the scoring action with both sides making multiple changes as the game progressed.
For Celtic it was a sixth league win on the bounce to ensure they remained five points behind a Glasgow City side who have yet to drop a point this season whilst Rangers will be looking forward to their opening match at the Hummel Training Centre as they take on Glasgow Girls in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup.
Celtic Head Coach, Eddie Wolecki Black: “All we could do is get the points on the board and we’ve done that so I’m very happy. If I’m honest I felt 3-1 flattered Rangers, we went in at half time with a 2-0 lead but I thought it could’ve been a lot more and we missed a host of chances. It’s maybe a warning that we need to improve in front of goal.”
On chasing Glasgow City: “The fact we’ve got them twice to play means that it is achievable and it’s in our own hands which is all we can ask for.”
On next week’s Scottish Cup tie v West Park United: “The Scottish Cup is something you always want to be involved in and we have enough quality to be involved in the latter stages. It will be a determined Celtic next week but we will give West Park respect and make sure we perform on the day and get through to the next round.”
Rangers Head Coach, Gregory Vignal: “We just started a new project, I am not naive, I know where we are. Celtic are a strong side, physically and tactically but like I said to the girls there’s four months to go until the end of the season and we need to be stronger week in and week out. The plan is to restructure everything, there is a long way to go but everyone is working hard and believes in it”
On next week’s Scottish Cup tie at the HTC v Glasgow Girls: “It will be the first home game at the Hummel Training Centre with the new stand so we are looking forward to a good game. It is fantastic for the players and for the club and it is fantastic we can prepare and organise everything and hopefully we can have a really good home but in terms of the project and the new training ground the atmosphere around the place is superb.”
Celtic: Logan, Keenan, McCulloch, Ross, Craig, Smart, Ewens, Donaldson, Clark, Crosbie, McGovern. Subs: Cunningham, Giard, Hay, Hodges, Warrington, McBrearty, O’Neill
Rangers: Ramsay, Ingils, Watson, Dalgliesh, Coakley, O’Hara, Gemmell, Napier, Brown, Robertson, Hay. Subs: Cameron, Campbell, MacDonald, Honeyman, McQuillan, McCartney.