Aberdeen Women co-manager Emma Hunter believes that her side’s improved performance at Celtic is proof of their top flight credentials, despite the result ending in a 3-1 defeat.
The Dons took the lead in the first half courtesy of a Bayley Hutchison strike and looked as if they would be travelling back to Aberdeen with a win before three goals in the final ten minutes swung the result in Celtic’s favour.
Hunter believes that the Reds’ disappointment at the final whistle proves how far they have come in SWPL 1, after being so close to pulling off a shock win at the Penny Cars Stadium.
She said: “When you’re facing Celtic and then saying afterwards that it’s a disappointing result, it’s not a disappointing result when you think about what people might have expected the score to be.
“To give a professional side like Celtic a scare like we did and holding on to the lead for as long as we could, it’s a massive positive.
“Given the situation we were in in the game, we probably had an opportunity to take all three points and if not that, at least a draw.
“It was hugely disappointing from that perspective, having put ourselves in a good position but that’s football sometimes.”
A well executed game plan improves performances
A formation change from a 4-2-3-1 to playing in a 4-4-2 seemed to work for Aberdeen as the co-managers implemented tactics to thwart Celtic, something they did well for large portions of the game.
Aberdeen’s change in tactics paid off as their high press allowed Eilidh Shore to make the most of a slack Celtic pass, and thread the ball to Hutchison who scored against the run of play.
— Aberdeen FC Women (@AberdeenWomen) November 22, 2021
While losing the game in the final ten minutes left the Dons feeling disappointed, it wasn’t disheartening for Hunter who insists there are plenty of positives to take from the performance.
She said: “Overall, we were pleased because we executed the game plan really well. It was something we worked on in training that week, to be compact and hard to beat.
“I think what the girls did is they took on all the information and it almost paid off for us.
“In the right areas of the pitch, we had more control and that was something that we’ve tried to work on. When you’re not in possession and then get the ball, we needed to be better with it and I felt we did that.
“In terms of the girls taking on information and executing a game plan, week by week you can see those differences happening and it can only put us in good stead for the future.
“I’m sure eventually the game plan, getting fitness levels higher and higher, and a bit of luck will see us pull off a good result.”
Reminder of professional and full-time advantages
Having played every side in SWPL 1 once already, Aberdeen will have been aware of the threats that a professional team like Celtic pose on the ball.
However, one thing that Aberdeen can’t alter with a game plan is the depth and resources that full-time squads have at their disposal.
— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) November 22, 2021
Hunter explained: “When you’re playing teams like Celtic who are training full-time their fitness levels are going to be a lot different from ours.
“We’ve got a team who train really hard and some of them train more because they are in performance hubs, but I think you could say it is down to fitness levels and depth of squads.
“We have depths in our squad, but Celtic had international players in their team who are away to play all over the world.
“It was a big ask for our players and I think you can put it down to fitness levels, but in any game when you’ve not got a lot of the ball you’re going to tire more.”