Hearts Women lost 3-0 to Celtic at Oriam in a closely fought match.
Despite the scoreline, the Jambos were excellent all over the park and didn’t deserve the heavy defeat. The improvement in Andy Kirk’s side is clear to see, and the team are night and day compared to the early stages of this season.
Hearts began the first half sharply, pressing Celtic high up the park and allowing them no time, with sixteen-year-old Amelie Birse giving the defence a torrid time by chasing down every ball, while Lia Tweedie and Kirstie McIntosh controlled possession in midfield, assisted by strong wing play from Katey Turner and Holly Aitchison.
Celtic were forced to scramble the ball clear from a corner after Turner had made a nuisance of herself down the right wing, and then Birse nearly got onto the end of a terrific ball over the top from Murron Cunningham, but ‘keeper Rachael Johnstone just got to the ball first.
Celtic were always going to come into the game more, and started to threaten as Hearts tired in the dying stages of the first half. Izzy Atkinson cut in from the right and shot towards goal, but Charlotte Parker-Smith continued her fine form from Wednesday’s game against Rangers, and pushed the shot away. From the corner, a Celtic head met the ball and it was cleared off the line and gathered by the keeper.
Into the second half, and Hearts started sharply with Birse winning the ball immediately from kick-off, being fouled by Celtic sub London Pollard. From the free kick, Cunningham shot for goal and had Johnstone scrambling before she caught the ball under the cross bar.
Celtic took the lead shortly afterwards when Chloe Craig got too much space and managed to cut in from the right to bend the ball into the corner. Parker-Smith was called into action again soon after when Anna Filbey volleyed into the ground and the ball was saved.
Filbey thought she’d got on the scoresheet when Celtic doubled their lead after a through ball from Pollard, the ball may have gone in via the excellent Clare Williamson who did her best to cover. Filbey came close again with a fiercely struck free kick from distance that Parker-Smith, again, was equal to, but she did grab a second with a minute to play as she converted from close range after Parker-Smith had pushed out an effort from Pollard.
Despite the result, a fine performance from the team, and with the work put in, combined with the desire and attitude of the girls, better days are not far away.
Hearts: Parker-Smith; Delworth, Hunter (Davies 66), Cunningham, Williamson; Turner (Cowan 77), McIntosh, Tweedie (Anderson 82), Aitchison; Smith, Birse (Walkingshaw 77). Sub not used: Begg.
Player of the match, Murron Cunningham, spoke to heartsfc.co.uk after the match and offered her thoughts on the game, and the remaining fixtures this season.
“We’re improving every week, definitely. We took momentum from the Rangers game, and performed really well despite the scoreline and today was the same. Our legs got tired, and they’ve got a wee bit more in them, but I think it’s clear to see we’re making improvements, minor and major, all over the park.”
“Our goal for the rest of the season has to be consistency through our performances, and we need to go into the next few fixtures building on what we’ve done so far, we can’t afford to dip now, we’ve come along too far now, so that’s the big thing, consistency.”
Report: Chris McPherson
Photo: David Mollison