CSS And Menu Css3Menu.com

Spartans battle to reach League Cup Final

Match Report by Edmund Brown


Determination and teamwork paid off for Spartans as they reached the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup final after defeating Celtic in the Semi-final 1-0 in Linlithgow.

Celtic dominated possession for long spells and created a number of chances in the second half however it was the Edinburgh side who broke the deadlock with an eighth minute strike by Sarah Ewens. As Celtic pushed for an equaliser, Spartans had to rely on goalkeeper Rachel Harrison who pulled off three fantastic saves meaning the Edinburgh side will meet Glasgow City in the final on May 30th.

Louise Young, the Spartans Captain, was, like all of her teammates, dead on her feet at the final whistle but was elated to get to the final for the third year running. She said: “It’s an amazing feeling getting to the final. The fact that it was down to the commitment and battling performance everybody put in makes it even better.”

Straight from kick-off Celtic were spraying the passes across the middle of the park and two minutes in were awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. Heather Richards floated the ball over to Natalie Ross but her chip to the far post was cleared for a corner by Molly McKean.

Even though the Lennoxtown side were holding on to the ball for most of the first ten minutes it was the Spartans who took the lead with Sarah Ewens finishing off a quick break up-field by slotting the ball home past the advancing Gemma Fay. Claire Crosbie started off the move by clearing the ball towards the run of McKean who pressurised the Celtic defence into giving the ball straight to Diana Barry. The Spartans number 9, with her second touch, played a defence splitting pass through to Ewens who, from just inside the box, fired the ball into the back of the net past the diving Keeper Fay.

Spartans, with the goal advantage, were starting to create the better of the first half opportunities and with 20 minutes gone Crosbie connecting with a Clelland corner only to see her own captain Young stop the header from crossing the Celtic goal line. Bobbie Beveridge, on the overlap, hit the bye-line and sent over a cross that was blocked by Rhonda Jones. Clelland took the corner and sent over an out-swinging ball towards the far post to where Crosbie, rising above every other player, sent a header towards goal only to see the ball smash off the legs of Young and away from danger.

With Ewens running the line upfront for Spartans, the Celtic defence were always on tender hooks due to the forward’s pace. And it was a result of her pace which allowed Ewens to break clear of Jones and Michelle Barr as she charged towards goal. However, a last-gasp challenge by Jones as Ewens aimed to shoot was enough to stop the striker in her tracks and keep the scoreline at 1-0.

Celtic, even though they had had much of the first half possession, had so far failed to test the Spartans Number 1, however that changed five minutes before half time as Suzanne Grant raced clear of the Spartans defence only to see her fierce drive saved by the face of Harrison before Victoria Farquhar cleared towards the half-way line.

With the Scotland Manager Anna Signeul in attendance and the roar of the Spartans support behind them, the North Edinburgh side came out fighting in the second half and had to battle their way through to the final with Celtic hitting them with everything they had.

With around five minutes gone in the second half Celtic’s Megan Sneddon hit a shot that scraped past the post. After a Celtic corner was headed clear by Crosbie, Sneddon collected the ball and, after taking a couple of touches, she let loose with a right foot drive that shaved the outside of the right hand post with Harrison stranded to the spot.

Moments later Harrison was called into action and she pulled off the save of the match if not the save of her season so far when, at full stretch, she tipped a Grant shot over the bar just as the forward was about to turn and celebrate. Grant found the ball at her feet just outside the box and, after turning 180 degrees, she let fly with a thunderous right foot shot that was bound for the top corner. However, with great agility, Harrison leapt and at full length tipped the ball over the bar.

Five minutes later Harrison was in action again, when the shot stopper tipped the ball around the post. Heather Richards drifted in off the left wing and as the ball fell to her she crashed a half volley that looked destined for the top corner. However Harrison was again equal to it with a strong right hand diverting the ball around the post for a corner.

The pressure on the Spartans goal was increasing by the minute and with around 12 minutes to play Grant was put through on goal by the pass of Jones. However, with only the keeper to beat, she decided to chip the Spartans Number 1 only to see the ball fly over the bar.

With injury time fast approaching Spartans decided to substitute Vice-Captain Barry, who had put in an incredible shift in central midfield, she left the field to a standing ovation to be replaced by Louise Magilton. Moments after this Spartans change,  Celtic created their last opportunity to get back on level terms with Sneddon hitting a fierce shot from 20 yards out. The ball looked to be sailing safely into the hands of Harrison however the ball flicked off the head of midfielder McKean but luckily for Spartans the ball flew inches over the bar resulting in Spartans reaching the league cup final for the third consecutive year.

Spartans Head Coach Debbi McCulloch was overjoyed at getting to the final after avenging the defeat Celtic inflicted upon them earlier in the season. She said: “I feel amazing after getting to the final. I said to the girls that moments like this don’t come around that often so to savour them, enjoy them and remember them. The players worked so hard tonight and everyone stuck to their roles within the game plan. A great victory and fully deserved I thought.”





Spartans: Rachel Harrison, Claire Crosbie, Chloe Fitzpatrick, Diana Barry (Louise Magilton, 85 mins), Molly McKean, Bobbie Beveridge, Lana Clelland, Patricia McLaughlin, Louise Young, Sarah Ewens (Louise Mason, 90mins), Victoria Farquhar.

Unused subs: Jo Hutcheson, Ann Taylor, Danni Pagliarulo, Louise Moultray.

Celtic: Gemma Fay, Rhonda Jones, Chloe Craig, Michelle Barr, Megan Sneddon, Emily Thomson, Natalie Ross, Heather Richards, Hayley Cunningham, Chloe Arthur, Suzanne Grant.

Unused Subs: Lauren MacMillan, Kirsty McBride, Shelby Kearney, Fiona Brown, Chloe Logan, Las Heuchan, Rachel O’Neil


Website Designed & Maintained by Carson Ralton © 2008 Spartans FC