Celtic started the game very brightly, and the young side clearly all have bright futures with youth internationals running right through the team. Their dedication to playing a sophisticated short passing game against Premier League opponents is to be commended and is testament to the coaching staff.
Celtic caused Accies a couple of scares, mainly due to some profligacy in distribution from the spine of Accies however the desire was there to cover for mistakes and Celtic were closed down with virtually no shots of note to trouble Megan Cunningham through her 60 minutes on the pitch.
After Accies settled down, Katie Reilly began to get more involved in the centre of midfield with Ruadh Houston and sent Gillian Inglis rampaging down the right hand side. The penetrating nature of Gills buccaneering runs were a facet of Accies play all day and she forced the first corner from which Katie Reilly rose under pressure but headed just over.
Celtic were looking to release their left winger as early as possible and the intent was there but pressure from Houston and Seagrave especially meant any pass was rushed and Accies were able to turn the ball over quickly and go forward. Again, Inglis was involved as she played a pass forward for Jennifer Rodgers to compete and the ball went loose after a fine challenge from the Celtic centre back. Jacqui Seagrave however latched on to the ball and conjured a beautiful shot from outside the box and over the Celtic keeper to give Accies a 1-0 lead.
By this time, Ruadh Houston had come off with Hamstring trouble and Terri Donnelly replaced her with Laura Murray joining Katie Reilly to provide a rock solid midfield partnership that competed magnificently throughout the game.
Kirsten McGuire and Sarah Crilly provided another potent attacking threat and Crilly was looking to allow Kirsten to overlap as much as possible. The high pressing style prompted several corners with Reilly and Donnelly the main threats from McGuire and Helen Templeton’s deliveries. Reilly rose and rattled the crossbar from McGuire’s set piece, whilst Donnelly came close with one that sneaked past the post.
Accies were slowly beginning to take control and Seagrave began to link very easily with Rodgers, Crilly and Templeton. Jacqui’s movement became difficult for Celtic to handle as she manoeuvred the defenders around the pitch and allowed full backs and midfield support to drive into the channels. Celtic competed fiercely however and did not allow shots at goal for free, however Jen Kin strode out from the back line and evaded 2 tackles before releasing Megan Walker who had come on for Jennifer Rodgers. Megan evaded the tackle of a covering Celtic defender but couldn’t finish as the Celtic goalkeeper made an excellent stop.
At half time, Kevin Murphy demanded more security of possession as the game would go on, convinced opportunities would present themselves. The determined Katie Reilly would espouse this philosophy as she thundered the ball home from 25 yards after a ten minute period at the start of the second half saw Celtic in ascendancy. Accies really settled after this goal, with Templeton moving to a more central role and McGuire combining with Cara McBrearty on the left hand side to great effect.
Again, corner kicks bore fruit for Hamilton with Donnelly, Reilly and Crilly going close. Crilly made it 3-0 with an audacious overhead kick after Murray had competed well in the air. After the restart, Celtic began to push for a goal of their own and Elaine Fleming had to step in twice to protect the clean sheet. Coming decisively for a corner to get a positive contact and then saving well with her legs from Celtic best chance of the game after they had broken away with some excellent one-touch stuff.
Megan Walker had begun to push towards the left hand side and join McBrearty and McGuire, and it was from there that Megan picked up the ball 40 yards out and drove into the box before finishing at the near post. This was practically the final act in a game where Accies had been missing Susan Fairlie, Toni Mason, Cheryl McCulloch, Lynsey Hogg, Tracy Burns, Jenny Godfrey, Chloe Quinn and the flying Ashley McDonald. Despite these absences, the players played well and executed Kevin Murphy’s game plan against an opponent who were a credit to themselves and their club.
Manager Kevin Murphy was delighted with the performance of the four new signings. He said: “I was very pleased with the performance of the 4 new girls, and that has manifested itself through their standards and application in training over the last 3 weeks. They’ve really bought into the Accies ethos and have been a pleasure to get to know. Allying this with the high calibre of players that we already have means the coaching staff and I are very excited for the 2012 season.”
Hamilton Accies: Cunningham, Inglis, King, Murray, McGuire. Houston, Reilly, Crilly, Templeton, Seagrave, Rodgers.
Subs: Fleming, Donnelly, McBrearty, Walker