Celtic saw off a spirited Spartans side 1-0 in East Kilbride to move above Hibernian into third in the Scottish Building Society SWPL 1.
The home side created plenty of opportunities, but few of real quality as they were frustrated by organised and resolute defending, and a series of important saves by Rachel Harrison in the Spartans goal.
Celtic took the lead at the start of the second half, forcing an error in the Spartans defence; Sarah Ewens pressuring Bobbie Beveridge and deflecting her clearance back into the net. The home side couldn’t add to their lead though and withstood late pressure to claim all three points.
The first half had been dominated by Celtic. Summer Green driving her team forward as she tried to open up Spartans’ low block. Shots from range failed to thoroughly test Harrison and it was in the wide areas that the home side found the most success.
Tegan Bowie flashed a shot wide from the left before Harrison got her fingertips to a cross and diverted it away from Lisa Robertson, denying her the simplest of tap-ins.
Spartans also suffered a blow just after the half-hour mark when captain Alana Marshall was forced off with an injury.
The goal was a cruel one for the away side, who had weathered the storm in the first half and showed they could threaten on the counter. However, they almost went two behind in as many minutes when Ewens found space in the box, but her shot clipped the bar on its way over.
Celtic maintained control over the game but the danger of the counter-attack nearly worked for Spartans. Becky Galbraith broke the offside trap and outpaced her marker but couldn’t slide her shot under goalkeeper Chloe Logan.
Spartans pushed hard in the final 10 minutes trying to get an equaliser but couldn’t do enough to claim a point.
It’s another narrow defeat for the Edinburgh side but that will have been scant consolation for Spartans boss Debbi McCulloch.
Celtic manager Fran Alonso: : “I’m happy with the three points and the clean sheet against a team that is very tough to beat.
“I think after the 90 minutes we are the deserved winners although, they are a very tough team and made things very difficult for us”
Spartans manager Debbi McCulloch: “I’m not sick of it [losing three games narrowly], I’m proud of my players. That’s two teams we’ve played that are classified as professional and training a lot more than us and we went toe to toe with them.
“Over the last three games things have remarkably improved, probably not as quick as I would like, but certainly I’m seeing the improvements. I think we gave Celtic a right good game today.”
Celtic: Logan, Bartle, Ross, Craig, Robertson, Ewens (Keenan 81), Donaldson (McGovern 61), Clark, Green, Hayes (Nicolson 81), Bowie (Anita 75); McCulloch, Warrington, McAllister.
Spartans: Harrison, McAlonie, Marshall (Beveridge 32), McKay, D. McMahon, McCafferty, Reynolds (Smart 65), Douglas, Clelland, Gibb (Moulton 82), Galbraith; S. McMahon, Aitchison, Yates, Frew.