RANGERS got back to winning ways on Sunday by defeating Celtic 3-2 at New Tinto Park.
Manager Amy McDonald made two changes to the side which lost to Glasgow City in midweek, with Hayley Sinclair coming in for Brogan Hay out wide and Jade Gallon starting up front in place of Robertson.
A scrappy opening five minutes saw Rangers gain the upper hand as they pressed early looking for the opening goal and the first chance fell their way. It came from a free kick played into the box and as the ball bounced around it dropped for Clare Gemmell, whose deflected shot was cleared by the Hoops defence.
The tide turned after the good opening spell from Rangers as Celtic began to attack. A cross in from the left resulted in a header being deflected wide and the following corner was was bravely cleared by Gemmell, but she was fouled while doing so.
Celtic’s influence soon told as they took the lead with just 11 minutes on the clock. Gemmell initially cleared the ball away from danger but Celtic moved it out wide on the left to Natalie Ross and she lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Jade Baillie from close range to make it 1-0.
The away side maintained the pressure after scoring the opening goal as they were passing the ball well in the centre of the park and forcing Rangers back towards their own goal. However, the Gers replied with attacking pressure of their own.
Just after the quarter hour mark, Carla Boyce robbed the defender and with a clear view on goal tried to slip a pass to Hayley Sinclair, but the ball was intercepted by the Celtic defender. From the resulting Amy Muir corner, however, came Rangers’ deserved equaliser.
The corner was initially cleared away but the ball was picked up by Sinclair on the left-hand side and she clipped a lovely cross over Celtic goalkeeper Gibson and Lauren Gallon was left unmarked to nod home from two yards out.
Rangers’ equaliser put a spring in their step as they started to push forward to look for a second goal, but at the other end a short back pass allowed Gaird to round goalkeeper Baillie, but the angle was too tight as she tried to curl the ball into the far corner.
Rangers continued with good work from Sinclair as she jinked into the Celtic box. Her shot was blocked but the ball fell kindly for Boyce who tried a delicate lob into the far corner but was just off target.
The home side took the lead shortly afterwards, as a free kick lofted into the box was knocked away only as far as Sinclair and she unleashed a fierce low drive from outside the box which flew past Gibson at the near post.
Celtic had a couple of chances to get back on level terms before half time, as Gaird was picked out after a sweeping Celtic move from right to left, but she could only shoot wide past Baillie’s post. A minute later Celtic had a clear view of the Rangers goal but Coakley made a fantastic sliding, goal-saving challenge.
At the other end Boyce continued to cause problems on the Celtic left as she hit a speculative cross-shot which almost looped over Gibson in the Celtic goal. Rangers then had another opportunity to extend their lead, as a short back pass put Gallon through one on one with Gibson but her first-time shot was saved and Celtic went in just one goal down at half time, when it really should have been two.
Rangers made one change at the break as Leah Eddie came on for Lauren Gallon and the second half started much as the first ended, with Rangers pressing and looking to extend their lead – and they did just that five minutes after the restart.
Celtic goalkeeper Gibson kicked the ball straight out to Jade Gallon, who crossed to the back post leaving Boyce with the simple task of heading the ball into the back of the net.
With Rangers in the ascendency they continued to press forward and Holly Napier was the next player to have a go, shooting over from 25 yards out.
A heavy challenge from Celtic’s Adams forced her into the referee’s book and Hannah Coakley off, and she was replaced by Chelsie Watson as Lisa Swanson also came on for Jade Gallon.
Against the run of play, Celtic then pulled one goal back after Donaldson smashed a shot off the underside of the bar and Gaird was in the right place at the right time to bundle the ball over the line and make it 3-2.
In response Rangers manager Amy McDonald brought on Hay for Boyce, and the former made an instant impact, driving to the by-line on the right and winning a corner, from which Rangers so nearly extended their lead as pin ball in the box allowed for a shot but it was blocked well by the Celtic defence.
Rangers’ dominance continued as a great challenge from Swanson knocked the ball into the path of Hay, who skipped past a challenge to leave herself one on one with Gibson, but the Celtic goalkeeper threw herself at Hay’s feet and smothered the ball well to deny the winger her first and Rangers’ fourth goal.
Celtic pressed at the other end as they desperately searched for the equaliser as a twisting and turning Donaldson managed to evade her marker and get a shot away, but it was comfortably saved by Baillie.
Celtic kept looking for a share of the spoils as a deflected shot from Cavanagh sailed over Baillie’s crossbar, and from the resulting corner the ball was knocked out to the edge of the 18-yard box and Celtic shot wide again.
However, it was Rangers who ended the match strongest as Hay again caused problems for Celtic, cutting inside from the left and shooting over the bar, and the Light Blues managed the game and shut out Celtic in added time to claim all three points.
RANGERS: Baillie, Muir, Lauren Gallon, Coakley, Clark, Gemmell, O’Hara, Napier, Sinclair, Boyce, Jade Gallon.
SUBS: Eddie, Donnelly, Hay, Watson, Swanson, Robertson.
Scorers: L.Gallon 18, Sinclair 30, Boyce 51.