A Celtic side inspired by Julie Fleeting inflicted a fourth straight league defeat on city rivals Rangers as David Haley’s side ran out 4-1 winners. A blunder by Celtic goalkeeper Gemma Fay gave Rangers the lead through a Karen Penglase free kick, before Fleeting scored twice to give Celtic a half time lead. Two long-range goals from Carla Jackson and the goal of the game from Abbi Harrison secured all three points for the visitors.
The opening exchanges of the game saw Rangers with the better of the chances, after just two minutes Rhonda Jones conceded a corner kick and from the resulting set piece Rangers’ striker Amy Harrison failed to direct her header goalwards and could only watch it go wide of the target.
Rangers took the lead after ten minutes following an uncharacteristic blunder from Celtic keeper Gemma Fay. Rangers’ Karen Penglase fired a 25 yard free kick at the Celtic goal which Fay managed to save but somehow the Scotland international fumbled the ball and it rolled over the line.
Rangers’ lead lasted all of ten minutes, a superb shot from Carla Jackson forced Khym Ramsay into a save but she failed to gather the ball and the rebound was knocked in off the bar by Julie Fleeting. However, the follow through from the former Arsenal striker caught Ramsay full on and the Rangers keeper was on the turf for around five minutes as she was being treated by the Rangers physio.
Just two minutes after play restarted Penglase tested Fay once more with a long-range free kick, but this time the Celtic keeper wasn’t taking any chances and she punched the ball clear and out for a corner kick.
Celtic then went close once more from a corner kick, but Rhonda Jones could only head over the bar from six yards out. But a minute later, Celtic took the lead, a fine cross by Fiona Brown was not dealt with by the Rangers defence and Fleeting was there to side foot the ball past Ramsay.
On 35 minutes, a poor challenge by Lesley Condie saw the defender go through the ball and studs into the shin of Brown who was sent into the air. Both players felt the force of the tackle, but Condie came off worst as it looked as though she had jarred her knee spending time off the field of play for treatment.
With half time fast approaching, Kathryn Hill tried her luck from distance, but her shot went well wide of the Celtic goal. But deep into injury time, Fay was called into action once more as a Jill Paterson effort from a set piece forced Fay into an impressive save to deny the Rangers defender.
Five minutes into the second half and a neat lay off by Julie Fleeting teed up Mhairi Gilmour-McGuire, whose shot was superbly tipped over the bar by Ramsay in the Rangers goal.
Minutes later an effort from Hayley Cunningham failed to really test Gemma Fay in the Celtic goal as the shot was rather tame.
Just on the hour mark, an audacious lob by McGuire from 25 yards out sailed just over the Rangers bar as the Celtic player caught Khym Ramsay off her line.
On 64 minutes, Celtic extended their lead as a poor clearance from Khym Ramsay saw Carla Jackson latch onto the ball and lob the keeper from 20 yards out to give Celtic a two goal cushion.
Despite going a goal down Rangers continued to look for a way back into the game and came close to doing just that. A Hayley Cunningham corner was met by the head of Megan Sneddon, but the Rangers midfielder could only direct her header wide of the Celtic goal.
Three minutes from time, Natalie Ross tried her luck after being played through on goal by Sneddon, but Ross fired wide of the target.
With a minute of normal time remaining, a superb strike and real contender for goal of the season from Abbi Harrison made it 4-1 to Celtic. Picking the ball up some 30-odd yards from goal near the touchline, the Celtic substitute connected with the ball brilliantly as her shot hit the woodwork and in, leaving Ramsay helpless.
Celtic saw out the remaining minutes of the game as they secured all three points to take them on level pegging with Rangers in the Premier League.
Rangers will be looking to put their poor league form behind them next weekend as they face Aberdeen, while Celtic face Glasgow City in a rearranged game due to City’s European commitments last month.