An off colour Rangers were made to pay as Celtic produced a dominant display punctuated by three goals in six first half minutes as they cruised to an Old Firm Derby victory at New Tinto Park. Both sides were coming off the back of mixed results in the SWPL Cup last weekend and whilst the home side will be taking their place at Broadwood in a fortnight’s time it was the visitors who set their stall out early as they went on to dominate the majority of the game.
After an even start the game sparked into life on the ten minute mark. Good work from Sarah Ewens and Keeva Keenan on the Celtic left resulted in a ball being whipped into the area which the Rangers defence were able to hook clear.
A minute later though the visitors were one up. From the resulting throw in Keenan launched the ball in to the box and with the home defence struggling to properly clear their lines the ball fell to Josi Giard who curled the ball into the corner from the edge of the area and four minutes later the lead was doubled. A left wing corner made its a way to a cluster of players positioned at the far post and from the melee Celtic captain Kelly Clark rose the highest to knock the ball in from a couple of yards out.
Rangers were unable to get a foothold in the game and found themselves 3-0 down with just 17 minutes on the clock. Rangers keeper Jade Baillie came rushing out of her area to deal with a ball but didn’t do enough to clear it leaving Natalie Ross with the opportunity to lob the ball into the empty net from 35 yards out. Rangers may have felt that there was a foul on Baillie in the build up but the Celtic midfielder should be credited with the composure she showed in putting away the long range effort.
In attack Rangers were resorting to long range efforts whilst bouncing balls in their own area continued to cause problems.
Four minutes before half time they were handed a chance to get back in the game when a ball cut back in from the touch line was handled by the Celtic defence. Experienced midfielder Clare Gemmell stepped up to take the resulting penalty and whilst it was well struck and seemingly destined for the corner Megan Cunningham in the Celtic goal was able to get down to make the save. Rangers midfielder Chantelle Brown was then quickest to react to the rebound but could only watch as her close range effort crashed off the bottom of Cunningham’s left hand post.
As the game restarted Rangers came out quickly with the always game Brown denied again this time by Cunningham as the winger cut in from the left only for the keeper to push her shot wide and out for a corner.
Those moments of Rangers attacking quality would however prove to be fleeting as Celtic were soon 4-0 up. On the 55th minute Kathleen McGovern became the latest Celtic player to benefit from the ball bouncing around the Rangers penalty area to stick a header home. Celtic continued to have chances with Baillie in the Rangers goal denying both Keenan and Ewens respectively but the fourth goal effectively killed the game.
Rangers did get on the scoresheet through Brown who, having been unlucky to see her 35 yard effort strike the crossbar a few minutes previous, found herself in the box to nod home an injury time consolation for the home side.
Both teams now head into their next encounters against Glasgow City, in the SWPL Cup and the league respectively, with very different mindsets in what ultimately proved to be a fairly one sided encounter.
Celtic Captain and Goalscorer, Kelly Clark: “Delighted with the result, we were really disappointed with last week but we made sure we started fast and we scored a couple of early goals. Another massive moment was Megan’s penalty save, it wasn’t a bad penalty from Clare but she’s guessed the right way and got a strong wrist to it. I think if we had gone in at half time at 3-1 I would have been disappointed.”
“After a game like that you wish the next game is round the corner but we’ll train really hard and see what Eddie’s got planned for Glasgow City in the next game.”
Rangers Head Coach, Amy McDonald: “We weren’t good enough particularly in the first and we created our own problems but I have to say that the decision not to give a foul for their third goal has really hampered us. Why that wasn’t given as a free kick is beyond me.”
“It was another hard lesson for us as we need to learn that we have to perform for 90 minutes. We need to be improve and reflect ahead of the semi final against Glasgow City.”
For the full interviews with Kelly Clark and Amy McDonald visit the the Official Scottish Women’s Football Channel.