Spartans 1-5 Celtic: Fran Alonso delighted with impact of young players

Fran Alonso hailed the impact of his young players as they hammered Spartans 5-1 at Ainslie Park.

Sarah Ewens, Sarah Teegarden and Anna Filbey all scored before a late double from skipper for the day Chloe Craig, but the performances of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi, Chloe Warrington and the array of young talent coming off the Celtic bench which caught Alonso’s eye.

Alana Marshall’s counter before half-time was the only blot on Celtic’s copy book and as they stayed within five points of top two Glasgow City and Rangers ahead of Wednesday’s Old Firm derby at Celtic Park.

“I think they know we trust them,” said Alonso.

“You can say to a young player that (you trust them), but if you don’t give them the minutes then that trust isn’t showing. Not only in the games against opponents that are weak, which is not the case today of course, but we are giving them every single game.

“As soon as we can, we are giving them opportunities and they are doing very well. At training they are growing, they are feeling more confident, they demand the ball. You can see the growth of these players, it is great for us and also for the Scottish national team to have these players for the future.”

For Spartans, it was the second time in seven days they have conceded five goals, and they remain fifth in SWPL 1.

The game could have gone very differently for Spartans, with Becky Galbraith possibly unlucky not to be awarded a penalty within the opening minute of play. A long ball put the striker into space, and when she reached the by-line and cut inside she appeared to be taken down by Caitlin Hayes.

However, the referee was unmoved and Celtic quickly made the home side pay as only moments later Filbey drove into the box and cut back for the in-form Ewens to slot home.

Celtic’s midfield controlled the game throughout the first quarter of the match, with Teegarden and Lisa Robertson impressing from the start. Teegarden and goalscorer Ewens both had efforts well saved by Rachel Harrison while left back Warrington saw her effort from 25 yards slide just beyond the right hand post.

The visitors’ lead was doubled when a Craig cross from the right found the unmarked Teegarden six yards out to head home.

Spartans should have pulled one back immediately but Kat Smart couldn’t direct her header on target.

Home goalkeeper Rachel Harrison saved well from Jacynta and Ewens, and then Spartans pulled a goal back as a dangerous Marshall corner from the right evaded Celtic goalkeeper Chloe Logan and sneaked in at the far post.

Soon after the restart another Craig cross from the right was turned in by Filbey at the back post to restore Celtic’s two goal cushion.

Ewens shot over from good crosses from Jacynta and substitute Mariah Lee, while Jacynta had an effort from long range easily saved by Harrison.

Celtic took advantage of some tired legs late on to add to their tally. Firstly Craig headed home well from substitute Rebecca McAllister’s delivery, before a Robertson through ball led to Kathleen McGovern being chopped down by Katie Frew inside the Spartans penalty area, and Craig made no mistake from the spot.

Player of the Match - Chloe Craig

Sarah Teegarden was at the heart of all of Celtic’s good attacking play in the first half, while Chloe Warrington put in a composed performance on the left for Celtic. But for two goals and two high-quality assists from crosses into the Spartans box, Chloe Craig was the clear standout in this match.

She was solid in defence and was on the mark with her passes in the final third time and time again for Celtic to create a host of chances and lead her side to victory. And her manager Alonso praised her after the match.

He said: “It was a very good game for her. I think she was outstanding offensively and defensively.”