With the pressure very much on, it was a determined Celtic who took on Glasgow City at K-Park tonight.
Fran Alonso picked a bold, attacking 4-3-3, but it was a stodgy, tentative first half, especially in the early stages. Chances were at a premium for either team, with Celtic’s defence holding off speculative moves from Scott Booth’s Glasgow City. Early on, a Sarah Teegarden-led stramash led to a corner, with a driven shot from Bartle being dealt with by Lee Alexander.
The real drama came around the 29th minute mark. A very, very soft penalty for Glasgow City gave Janine van Wyk a prime opportunity from the spot. However, a weak effort was comfortably dealt with Chloe Logan. That seemed to shift the mood, with Celtic creating more opportunities and playing with real intent.
On 38 minutes, Rachel Donaldson’s rasping effort stung the fingertips of Alexander, who was kept busy by a flurry of Celtic attacks.
Celtic v Glasgow City: plenty of chances but both sides struggle to make breakthrough
Perhaps Fran Alonso, despite his attacking tendencies, was focussed on keeping Glasgow City quiet. The multiple SWPL Champions have been firing in the goals all season.
Before the hour mark, City came extremely close once again. Chloe Logan continued a superb performance, shutting out Wyne from mere centimetres out, at pace. The build-up kept coming from City, but Bartle and co were in no mood to concede.
Teegarden shone in a roaming playmaker role, moving between channels and causing problems on either flank. A worrying moment came in 62nd minute, with Caitlin Hayes felled by Ode Fulutudilu inside the Celtic box, with Fulutudilu picking up a well-earned yellow.
There was more penalty drama as Alexander conceded a controversial spot kick. It looked like the City goalkeeper had won the ball, but Celtic weren’t complaining. Sarah Ewens, from the same spot as Van Wyk, hit it well to Alexander’s left, but the Scotland goalkeeper was probably served some karmic justice with a fantastic save.
Ewens wasn’t done though. On 71 minutes, the Celtic striker picked a difficult angle, but hit a shot low and hard against Alexander. The Ghirls were knocking on the door of a massive result.
Determined Celtic pressed hard for massive result
More drama. A long, rasping shot from City’s Jo Love cannoned against the bar, and immediately led to a counter-attack. Mariah Lee looked good value to keep her run going the length of the pitch, but sapping energy levels meant it came to little.
Fran Alonso rang the changes on 77 minutes. New signing London Pollard made her second appearance, replacing Ewens, with Rachel Donaldson coming off for Izzy Atkinson.
City applied more pressure, with Anna Filbey required for a goal-line clearance as the last ten minutes began. From there, the message was clear, with Celtic launching passes up the field and throwing everyone forward. It camped City deep into their own half, but the Ghirls struggled to make headway against a disciplined defence.
More suspense followed. A rash challenge on Mariah Lee saw Clark sent off for City, and the resulting dissent caused Scott Booth to get a booking from the sideline. This was a massive opportunity with just seconds left, but Teegarden’s delivery from the resulting free kick found no takers.
The sending off fired Celtic up, but ultimately, City’s resolve showed. Even with 10 players, their compact block frustrated Celtic, and it ended 0-0.
It’s not a disaster by any means, and it’s a result that leaves Celtic well placed to finish second [SWPL]. A loss would’ve dented Celtic’s Champions League hopes, but as it is, this was a positive result.