Women's Report: Saints battle hard in Celtic stalemate


The rundown of what happened when Southampton FC Women took on Celtic in a behind-closed-doors friendly split into three 30 minute periods...

Team: Rendell, Morris, Mott, Parnell ©, Williams, Lumsden, Wynne, Griffiths, Watling, Peake, Trialist.

Celtic piled on the pressure from the off, imposing themselves physically on the ball. Saints did well to respond to the pace but were unfortunate to give away a penalty in the third minute after some scrappy defending in the box.

Celtic’s Chloe Craig didn’t make any mistake in thrashing the ball into the back of the net past Kayla Rendell to open the scoring.

Saints looked to settle despite the early Celtic goal, and Ciara Watling and Megan Wynne linked up in the 10th minute to break into the opposition box, only to see the final shot dribble wide.

Rendell was forced to save shortly after, as Celtic piled players forward. Saints couldn’t clear their lines quick enough, but the shot from the edge of the box wasn’t enough to beat Rendell.

It was Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side with the next chance, however, as Milly Mott drifted down the right-hand side and lofted a ball towards the back post. New addition Beth Lumsden rose into the air to meet it, but some smart Celtic defending took it off her head and away from danger.

The end of the first third saw Saints with better possession, and with only a one goal deficit to overturn, Spacey-Cale’s side had all to play for.

Team: Harris, Morris, Mott, Parnell ©, William, Freeland, Wynne, Griffiths, Watling, Peake, Pusey.

Some substitutions on the break saw Sophie Harris, Georgie Freeland and Ella Pusey enter the fray.

Celtic came out battling for the second thirty, and Jacynta Galabadaarachchi was the first player to get a sight of goal in the 35th minute, as a bouncing delivery found the Australian on the edge of the box - the half volley sailing goalward, only for Rosie Parnell to head away.

The fresh legs in attack were making a difference for Saints. Substitute Ella Pusey caused issues with her aggressive press, winning the ball in the process to play Ciara Watling into space. Watling laid the ball off to Georgie Freeland in a neat move, but her curling shot flew just wide.

Lucy Ashworth-Clifford looked dangerous for the Celts as the clock ticked into the 40th minute, as she waded through a sea of blue to get away a shot which flew wide. Minutes later, she tried her luck from range, seeing her shot rattle the crossbar.

Celtic kept up the pressure from the missed opportunity, and Phoebe Williams and Paige Peake did well to clear shortly after from a searching corner.

Pusey continued to create going forward. In the 50th minute, she picked up the ball just inside the opposition half, was able to drive forward and lay off to her right-hand side where Megan Wynne was creating the option - Wynne unleashed a powerful shot, but India Marwaha in the Celtic goal was able to gather.

Team: Team: Harris, Morris, Mott, Parnell ©, William, Trialist, Lumsden, Griffiths, Watling, Peake, Pusey.

Freeland and Wynne made way for the trialist and Beth Lumsden as the third period of 30 began, and Saints seemed to be making things click as they put together a number of neat moves to progress up the pitch.

Ella Morris was dominating play across the field, and in the 66th minute marauded forward, taking on a number of Celtic players. Her pace saw her break into the box, and was brought down in the process. The referee once again pointed to the spot.

Paige Peake stepped up to take, cooly slotting the ball down to the left of the keeper, sending her the wrong way. A first goal in a Saints shirt for the number 24.

Morris continued to play a big part in attacking play, this time receiving a short corner and whipping it across the box to Lumsden at the back post. The number 10 took the shot first time, with the volley flying high and wide of the target.

Harris continued to coach from the back, and was quick off the mark when a long ball through to Tegan Bowie looked like it could be a golden opportunity for the Celts. The new signing made another save in the 88th minute, trapping a ferocious shot from the edge of the area.

Saints saw out the final few minutes with professionalism, sealing a 1-1 draw in their opening game of pre-season against a talented Celtic side.