SWPL: 'Nervy' Celtic start league challenge with win over Hamilton

Celtic's Kirsty Howat (left)
Celtic were 2-1 winners over Hamilton at the Superseal Stadium

Celtic started their Scottish Women's Premier League challenge with a 2-1 win over Hamilton Academical at the Superseal Stadium.

A Courtney Whyte header and an own goal from Gill Inglis gave them a 2-0 lead, but Lori Gardner's lob made for a nervy finish.

Next week, they face Glasgow City, who began their title defence with a 7-0 win over Stirling University.

Hibernian defeated Rangers Ladies 4-2, while Aberdeen and Spartans drew 2-2.

Shaky Celtic

Celtic midfielder Sarah Crilly admitted her side need to shake off the nerves if they are to beat City next week at the K Park training academy.

The visitors dominated the 90 minutes but had goalkeeper Megan Cunningham to thank for denying Laura Gallen with a point-blank save to keep the points safe.

Crilly told BBC Scotland: "We definitely made it difficult for ourselves.

"We were in control of the game but were a bit shaky. Obviously, with it being the first game, everybody is going to be nervous.

"But, overall, it's not good enough. We need to pick our game up next week when we play Glasgow City, but the three points are the most important thing.

"We were wanting to test the goalkeeper a bit more, most of the chances we got were outside the box.

"We need to be creating more, we just need the final ball, but something is going to click eventually."

Celtic took the lead on the half hour mark when Whyte was first to Richard's corner and headed in off the far post.

The goal lifted the visitors and suddenly the chances started to come. Ruesha Littlejohn fired straight at the goalkeeper from the edge of the box then Crilly could not keep her shot down when played through.

Cunningham made the first of two great saves, tipping Deborah McLeod's bullet header over the bar.

Littlejohn sent a free-kick over the bar before Hopkins pushed a Ewens volley wide, and Celtic eventually got the second goal their pressure deserved on 64 minutes when Heather Richards' driven ball across the box bounced off Accies defender Inglis and into the net.

Hamilton had barely been seen as an attacking force, but they rallied and Gardner pulled them back into the game when she raced clear of the Celtic defence then beat Cunningham with a glorious lob.

It was almost 2-2 when Gallen had the chance a yard out, but Cunningham blocked her effort on the goal line.

Champions hit seven

Glasgow City celebrate Kodie Hay's (centre) goal
Glasgow City celebrate Kodie Hay's (centre) goal

Glasgow City, seeking their 11th straight Premier League title, started with a thumping 7-0 win over Stirling University at the Excelsior Stadium.

Pre-season signing Savannah Jordan scored her second hat-trick in her second competitive game for City, while Ireland international Noelle Murray, captain Leanne Ross, defender Keeva Keenan and second-half substitute Kodie Hay were also on the scoresheet.

City head coach Scott Booth said: "It was pleasing to take the three points today and score so many.

"The players worked really hard and I am sure they will keep getting better and better in the coming weeks."

Two late goals from Rangers gave Hibs a scare, but they held on to win 4-2 at New Tinto Park.

The visitors were 3-0 up at half-time through Abi Harrison, Lucy Graham and Siobhan Hunter.

When Chelsea Cornet made it 4-0 with 20 minutes to go, it looked like the points were safe, but within seven minutes, Rangers had pulled two back through a Claire Gemmell free-kick and a Hannah Robertson goal.

Aberdeen roared back from two goals down to claim a point at home to Spartans.

Colette Cavanagh and Carla Boyce gave Spartans a healthy half-time lead, but Hannah Stewart won then scored a penalty before again firing home from the spot after Jo Fraser was fouled.

The Dons could have won it, with Samantha McDonald volleying off the crossbar.

Results

SWPL 1

Aberdeen Ladies 2-2 Spartans

Glasgow City 7-0 Stirling University

Hamilton Academical 1-2 Celtic Women

Rangers Ladies 2-4 Hibernian Ladies

Hearts' Ashley Carse (right)
Hearts' Ashley Carse (right) shows her delight at scoring her teams third goal against Buchan Ladies

SWPL 2

Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale 1-2 Glasgow Girls

Hearts 3-1 Buchan Ladies

Forfar Farmington 4-1 East Fife

Motherwell 0-3 Jeanfield Swifts Ladies

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