New era starts with 3-0 win over Celtic in SWPL

Report by Graham Semple

New Glasgow City Head Coach, Scott Booth, enjoyed a winning start to his tenure when his side comfortably defeated Celtic 3-0 in the SWPL at the Excelsior Stadium this afternoon.

A goal moments before half-time from Abbi Grant broke the deadlock; a fine finish from Clare Shine doubled the advantage, and a header from Lauren McMurchie put the game firmly beyond their opponents as City remain top of the table on goal difference.

It was an inauspicious start to the match as both teams fought for supremacy in a fiercely-contested and congested midfield area. Celtic were well-organised and tenacious and they did not allow City to settle into their preferred slick and incisive passing game.

As the opening period progressed the Glasgow side began to enjoy territorial advantage but despite a host of corners, they were unable to force the Celtic goalkeeper, Laura Hamilton, into meaningful action.

The first half had been one of toil and frustration for the Scottish champions however seconds before the interval they grabbed the lead. A combative run and dangerous low cross by Hayley Lauder was spilled by Hamilton into the path of the grateful Grant who slammed the ball into the net from close range.

The home side made a fast start to the second half and Grant saw an effort hit the side netting before Shine sent an excellent opportunity over the bar.

City’s level of performance picked up significantly in the second period. They played with a higher tempo and moved the ball around with greater purpose and intent, which caused the visitors’ defence serious problems.

The all-important second goal arrived after 63 minutes. A Leanne Ross corner was superbly diverted into the net by Shine. The Irish forward, who has not struggled for goals since her arrival from Raheny United in May, swivelled and fired a sweet left-foot volley beyond the despairing Celtic goalkeeper.

Six minutes later the three points were sewn up when McMurchie did well to reach a pinged free-kick delivery from Ross and head past Hamilton into the net.

A number of substitutions after the third goal took the sting out of proceedings however City almost bagged a fourth with nine minutes remaining. A dipping shot from Kerry Montgomery was parried by the goalkeeper and Denise O’Sullivan appeared certain to bang home the rebound, but her effort cannoned off the woodwork and drifted to safety.

There were to be no more goals for City - who finished the match with three development players in forward positions - but a vital three points in their first post-split encounter have deservedly gone the way of Booth’s side.

Commenting on his first week in charge and today's game, Booth said, "I am really happy with today. It has been a busy week with getting the job, taking training for the first time and sometimes that can take away from the main event, which is the game itself. All in all to get the win in the manner which we did, I am delighted with it. The players have responded really well, are very positive and have shown an amazing attitude and commitment to what it is that I have brought. They have also remained as professional as they always are and I saw all of that on the pitch and in training this week, so I am very happy."

Teams

Glasgow City: Alexander, McMurchie (Jones 79), Lauder (Hay 46), Love (Montgomery 79), O’Sullivan, Shine (Boyce 86), Docherty, McCulloch, Ross (c), Grant (Welsh 86), Cuthbert

Subs Not Used: Cunningham, Rafferty

Celtic: Hamilton, McGuire, Dalgliesh, Sjoman, Fulton (Cavanagh 79), Littlejohn, Paton (Molley 89), Clark, Middleton, Connolly (MacMillan 71), Johnston

Subs Not Used: Phillips, McBrearty