Match Reports :-

Celtic LFC v Hibernian Ldies - Premier League - Sunday 25th. November 2007

Celtic  2  ... Hibernian 0 

Celtic Ladies Stun Champions With Victory

CELTIC LADIES sent shock waves round the Women’s Premier League by putting an end to Hibernian’s three-season unbeaten run, with an impressive 2-0 victory at Barrowfield on Sunday.

The colossal result, secured by goals from Christie Murray and Leanne Crichton, has suddenly propelled the league’s newcomers into serious title contenders.

An absolute dream start against the current champions saw Celtic Ladies take a 1-0 lead after just nine minutes.

Christie Murray’s determination paid dividends when she gambled on a cross that the Hibs’ keeper should have collected comfortably. When the ball slipped from her hands, Murray was on hand to nip round and slot the ball home.

If any Celtic players had started the game slightly in awe of the opposition, the goal dispelled all nerves and a fabulous advert for the women’s game unfolded.

The best chance of the first half fell to Hoops’ striker Hayley Cunningham. Goalkeeper Claire Johnstone sent forward a superbly struck clearance and under pressure, Murray lifted the ball into the box but Cunningham’s volley trundled wide.

Going into the second-half a goal in front against such experienced opposition should have been a daunting prospect for the young Celtic side but they maintained great composure throughout.

On 55 minutes Hibernian protested strongly for a penalty. Grant broke into the box and claimed she was impeded as she tried to round the keeper, but her effort came off the base of the post and play was allowed to continue.

With Hibernian pushing hard for an equaliser, it was clear another goal would be needed to secure the three points.

Manager John Holt brought on a third striker in Suzanne Malone to partner Murray up front, with Cunningham dropping deeper.

But the game continued to be fought and won in the midfield with Celtic successfully nullifying the attacking presence of Hibs’ young prodigy Kim Little, while getting the ball forward into dangerous areas.

The breakthrough came when midfielder Leanne Crichton, on her first start for the Hoops since signing this month, drove into the box and was scythed down from behind while steadying herself for the shot.

The referee instantly pointed to the spot and Crichton duly stepped up and got her just rewards for a sterling performance by slotting home the spot kick.

A delighted John Holt said after the game: “We set our stall out from the start. We stopped them playing and fortunately we took the chances we were presented with.

“Beating Hibernian lets the other team out there know how far we have progressed and what we are now about. We have to now believe we have a shot at this league.

“I was delighted with all the girls, every one. But in particular Claire Johnstone in goals caught absolutely everything and really took the pressure off us at times.

“Leanne Crichton won her battle in the middle of the park, and Jaqui Seagrave and Suzanne Robertson at the back were immense.”

Kayleigh Cameron