Celtic fans broke their own record just a week after setting it as nearly 16,000 fans turned up to see Celtic Women take on Hearts in the final game of the SWPL season. Celtic needed a win to give themselves a chance at the title while also relying on Rangers to take points off Glasgow City at Ibrox.
Amy Gallacher had the first chance of the game for Celtic as she picked up possession inside the Hearts box and struck a half-volley which just clipped the outside of the post. Aimee Anderson followed up quickly at the other end though as she drove into the Celtic box and had her shot cut out by a late lunge from Caitlin Hayes.
Celtic were in control throughout the first half as they dominated possession and forced the Hearts defence into making mistakes with a high line of pressure. Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Kit Loferski both created opportunities for the hoops but neither could find the back of the net.
With half-time looming, both sides were desperately searching for a lead to take into the break, and Hayes delivered for Celtic. The defender picked up possession in the Hearts box and clinically sliced the ball into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
As the half-time whistle blew, Celtic were in prime position to take the SWPL title as Rangers and Glasgow City sat goalless at the break at Ibrox. Hearts made some half-time changes including swapping out ‘keeper, Charlotte Parker-Smith for reserve shot-stopper, Lisa Rodgers.
Natasha Flint was a driving force in Celtic’s second half performance as she stood strong in the midfield, winning and maintaining possession for her side. Jacynta came close to doubling the hoops’ lead as she was on the end of a perfect long ball from Chloe Craig which sent her in on net, but she couldn’t beat the sweeping legs of Rodgers.
Flint would later bag the second goal in the game as Craig floated a perfect cross into the box which was met by Flint and guided into the net. Celtic Park erupted as the Ghirls took another step closer to the title.
The dagger was brought down on Paradise though when Lauren Davidson scored for Glasgow City in the 92nd minute at Ibrox. There was a brief moment of pandemonium in the stands when news of a late Rangers equaliser came through, but the goal was chopped off and City remained at the top.
Celtic closed out the game with a 2-0 victory which secured them champions league football next season, but not the title as City took the plaudits.
Celtic Manager, Fran Alonso reflected on the day as he said: “Football sometimes can be cruel, and today it was extremely cruel. We did what we had to do and I’m so proud of the girls.
“It was a fantastic game against a team that was well-rested. They had the whole week to rest, and we still totally dominated the game. We had so many chances.
“They told me Glasgow City scored, and obviously I was absolutely devastated. But then I heard the whole stadium cheer, and that was the happiest moment in my career but it was for nothing and that was extremely hard to take. I’m so gutted for those players not winning the league, and for that crowd, a record again. Other fans are going home celebrating the title, and that is breaking my heart.
“I have to be honest, winning away at Ibrox is a massive task and I didn’t think they would do it, but they did it so congratulations to them. They are the deserved champions for that.
“I have always said this is like a movie and it really was, we managed to take the title to the last day. Sadly though, this movie didn’t end well for us. But the pride doesn’t go, I’m so proud of this team, the sky is the limit for them.”
Alonso spoke on his comments in the dressing room after the game as he said: “I named every single one of them, the staff and the players and told them I wouldn’t swap them for anyone and I’m extremely proud.”
He went onto speak about the upcoming Scottish Cup Final for his side against Rangers as he said: “For us, obviously we are the current holders. Today, I thought was going to be the best day of my career, but instead it is one of the worst. I still have so many things to be proud though and the Cup is another opportunity to bring in a trophy. I can guarantee that the fight and the passion will be there and hopefully we can give our fans something to celebrate, because they deserve it more than anyone.”
“We were super motivated from day one. We are always hungry; you can’t be at Celtic and not be hungry for trophies. We know what we have and what we lack, but something we aren’t lacking in this team is a big heart and lots of passion and enthusiasm. That’s what we are going to show in the final and hopefully we’ll be luckier than we were today and we can bring the fans something to celebrate.”