Celtic 0 Scotland 6

It was a perfect evening for football at Crownpoint Sports Centre when the teams took to the field for Scotland’s first game together after the game against Hamilton Accies was postponed due to the poor weather last week.

The starting eleven consisted of Morgan McCroary in goals. The back four was Abby Hayes, Caitlin Martin, Sky Murtagh and Iona Watt. Ava Allison started on the right with the Captain Lily Boyce playing alongside Ava Crawford in the centre. Vice-Captain Orla Burn started wide on the left. Dara Ositelu was partnered by Erin O’Brien up front for the young Scots.

The large and expectant crowd were looking forward to seeing this years’ SSFA squad.

Right from the kick off it was clear that Scotland wanted to play on the front foot and looked to play the ball forward quickly and as they looked to press high up in the pitch. Scotland settled into the game quickly with passing that was both crisp and direct. Erin and Dara were linking up well from the off, running the channels and running beyond the Celtic defence.

Erin O'Brien in action

Lily and Ava Crawford started probing and driving the play forward and it was from one of these clever passes that the ball found its way to Erin on the left-hand side of the 18-yard box.

She cut inside and her goal bound effort was thwarted by a great block from the Celtic defender.

However, from the resulting corner it was Lily who attacked the perfectly delivered in swinging corner from Iona. The Scotland skipper met the ball at the front post and glanced her header into the opposite corner of the net and the first goal in this year’s campaign.

Lily Boyce's header crossses the line

Lily and Ava Crawford continued to press the opposition and after winning the ball back they looked to get it wide to both Ava Allison and Orla who looked to attack the Celtic full backs.

Lily had the next opportunity as she won the ball back and drove towards the Celtic box, but on this occasion, her shot whistled past the left upright.

As both teams settled into the game both Abby and Iona in the full back berths continued to play passes beyond the opposition defenders with Caitlin and Sky also breaking down Celtic attacks and in doing so, they starting moves from the back

Caitlin Martin clears the danger

It was from one of these longer passes down the right flank that Dara did very well to chase down the defender and used her strength and power to drive to the touchline and in doing so she fired a wonderful cross on the run into the box.

Erin had made a fantastic run into the middle but on this occasion the ball just eluded her as although she made good contact, she could not direct the ball towards the goal and the ball just cleared the crossbar.

Abby and Ava Allison were combining well as they linked with Ava Crawford in the middle of a congested central midfield.

However, on this occasion Ava Crawford did very well to win the ball back and as she looked up, she played a perfect ball behind the full back. Ava Allison took the ball on the run and then cut onto her left foot before firing the ball beyond Kayla in the Celtic goal.

Ava Allison's shot hits the back of the net

Erin O’Brien was also proving to be a problem for the defenders as she kept knocking on the Celtic door.

After a lovely ball from Lily, Erin cut back inside but, but on this occasion, her powerful shot was well held by Kayla in the Celtic goal.

The back four of Scotland were dealing with anything that Celtic were constructing and with Morgan continuing to organise the players in front of her the Scots were looking a solid unit in this first period together.

The high press was a constant thorn in the Celtic side and it was from one of these presses that Dara robbed the Celtic defender to score her first goal and the Scots third of the night. It was only what she had deserved for her first period performance.

Dara Ositelu celebrates her first goal of the evening

As the midfield pressed forward and attempted to retain the ball in the opposition’s half, it was only a matter of time before the fourth goal arrived.

The Scots pushed and pressed again and were awarded a free kick outside the Celtic box.

Orla stepped up to play the ball, and as the players set up at the back post, she delivered a lower ball towards the penalty spot where Dara was positioned. She took the ball early and expertly put the ball away confidently.

The period finished with the young Scots good value for their four goals.

Scotland made a raft of changes to start the second period with Erin Gilvear and Lucy Stevenson joining Sky and Iona in the back four.

Phoebe O’Donnell replaced Ava Allison on the right-hand side with Melissa Regmi replace Dara up top.

It was pleasing to see that the level of intensity did not drop with the introduction of the changes as they obviously wanted to impress on their arrival.

Lucy and Sky looked to contain the Celtic attacks with both looking to step forward into the midfield and start moves from the back.

Erin Gilvear and Iona continued to drive the team forward when possible.

Phoebe and Erin Gilvear were linking well on the right causing more problems for the Celtic defence.

Melissa took up the baton from Erin O’Brien as she dropped into spaces and pockets of space to drive at the Celtic defenders.

Scotland kept knocking on the door with direct passing and forcing errors from the Celtic defence.

Phoebe was beginning to get on the ball and looked to attack down the flank once again as she cut inside and played passes to both Erin Gilvear and Melissa, and as the ball came back to her from lovely link up play Phoebe drove the ball high into the net above the Celtic keeper to give the Scots a fifth goal on the night.

Phoebe O'Donnell celebrates scoring her first goal for Scotland

Erin Gilvear and Phoebe continued to cause problems down the right with Melissa again working hard as she linked with Erin O’Brien to hound the Celtic defenders.

Morgan was called into action in this second period as the Celtic attacked sporadically.

She made a great one handed save high to her left early in the second period, but she had been comfortable throughout the game, it had been good night for the young keeper before being replaced by Alex Reid.

Morgan McCroary blocks the Celtic shot

Alex was called into action early but handled the situation with confidence and helped both Sky and Lucy as she took charge of the situation.

The period finished with Scotland on top and looking for another, with Iona coming the closest when she clipped the crossbar with a freekick.

It had been another good period for the Scots.

Again, the third period started with changes in the Scots ranks. Alex continued in goal, with a back four of Abby, Lucy, Caitlin and Erin Gilvear moving over to the left. Ava Allison returned to the right. Iona joined the ever-eager running of Ava Crawford with Phoebe moving to the left. Dara joined Melissa up top as the Scots looked to add to their tally.

Both teams now enjoyed more time on the ball where possession was the key.

It was still great to see the Scots running and chasing and retaining the ball. Each player wanting to get the ball back and use it positively.

The central midfield duo of Iona and Ava Crawford epitomised this as they worked constantly to get the ball back and use it positively looking to play forward to the ever-alert strikers in Dara and Melissa. Both of whom looked to create and score more goals for the Scots.

Melissa Regmi driving forward

The two Ava’s linked well with Abby striding forward, timing her runs and linking with the strikers.

Dara had been a thorn in the Celtic side all night and it was fitting that she completed her hat trick in a typical confident finish.

Dara Ositelu scores her third and Scotland's sixth of the evening

The game continued to be played in the Celtic half and Melissa was unlucky not to get onto a ball that she had constructed herself.

Celtic made chances from breakaways and Alex was called into action saving low down to her left from a free kick, but overall, the game concluded with both sides attempting to pass the ball positively.

It was a great result for the young Scots as they attempt to retain the Bob Docherty Cup which is being held in Athlone in the Republic of Ireland

Scotland Squad

Post Match interview