Hearts become only second team in SWPL1 to score past Celtic as spirited comeback ends in gallant defeat
Hearts came close to pulling off a sensational second-half comeback after Jenny Smith’s stunning goal, but the hosts didn’t have quite enough in a 2-1 SWPL1 defeat by Celtic at Oriam.
After first half goals from Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Shen Menglu, most observers assumed Hearts were down and out. However, a brilliant second-half from the hosts almost saw them nick a point. Smith became only the third player to score past the Glaswegians in the league this season, joining the likes of Scottish internationals Lauren Davidson and Hayley Lauder. As the quality gap between the Edinburgh side and the top three continues to reduce, Smith came away disappointed they couldn't get more.
“We were far better compared to the last time we played them”, she told the Edinburgh Evening News. “We went to them and lost 3-0. We were able to compete against them today, we just felt we should have got something.
“It was a good performance and we should have taken something out of the game. We were pushing for a point and could have even got three points. Obviously it didn't happen, but we felt like we should have got something from the game. It was good to get on the score sheet obviously but I felt like we should have gotten the win from it.”
Celtic almost took the lead 14 minutes in, but Menglu was flagged offside. The opener came for the visitors 15 minutes later as Amy Gallacher, through on goal, found Jacynta who tapped the ball into an empty net. Their lead was doubled two minutes later with an intelligent finish from Menglu that went in off the inside of the post. Hearts pressed and almost got a goal back from a corner but Georgia Timms’ goal-bound effort was blocked.
The Jam Tarts were rejuvenated at the start of the second half and pulled a goal back on 50 minutes. Timms played a fantastic switch to Smith, who found herself all alone to smash the ball into the net. Charlotte Parker-Smith made a magnificent save to keep it 2-1 stretching to stlp a shot bound for the top corner.
Timms thought she had equalised late in the game with a well-timed volley however, the lineman flagged for offside. Hearts came close again only two minutes later when Rebecca McAllister’s free-kick was headed onto the line but Celtic got back to clear.
“We are always striving to be progressive, this season was all about that”, said Hearts assistant boss Sean Burt. “Eventually, as the season has gone on, even if you look at the last time we played Celtic to this performance, it's night and day better. We really wanted to emphasis after the Rangers game that we have belief going into these games and we can take points off them. That will be the message moving forward.
“We could have scored more than one. Even in the first half we had a lot of territory in the final third. We just didn’t have that final bit of quality. It was a bit toothless in the first half but we had the ball in all the good areas on the pitch. It shows how well we are doing when we can’t just be happy with scoring, we want results, we want points.”