Celtic Players Have Recovered From Last Minute Mistakes. Caitlin Hayes Will Too.

Image for Celtic Players Have Recovered From Last Minute Mistakes. Caitlin Hayes Will Too.

I find it difficult to write about last night’s women’s Champions League game without replaying the moment over and over in my mind.

There are games like that, which stick in the mind, and moments in them where you know, because of how late they were, that decided the issue, both good and bad. The good hardly need pointing out; the Rogic goal which secured the Invincible Treble; the goal from Jan Venegoor Of Hesselink which put us ahead of them in 2012, Ntcham’s goal in Lazio, Naka’s title winner at Kilmarnock and on and on … you could write a separate article on them.

But I’ve seen some late heartbreak as well. John Hartson’s penalty miss against Rangers, in the League Cup Final of 2003 was the chance to put the match into extra time. The year before, we had lost a game in the last minute of the Scottish Cup Final against their club when Lovenkrands scored. They’d come back from behind in that game twice.

Then there’s the moment, at the end of last season, when we thought the women’s team had secured the title just for the unbelievable late drama which snatched it from Fran Alonso and his team’s hands. Dear God, that was heartbreaking.

I can see those moments in my head without even having to close my eyes.

And I will watch Caitlin Hayes committing that foul last night over and over again in the same way, never quite being free of it, or the certainty that it is all that cost us a deserved victory deep into extra time after we’d gotten the goal the players fought for.

But I suspect that it will play in her head more than it will in mine.

She has two choices. She can let it wear her down or she use it as the fuel for the rest of this season. I have no doubt which she will do; Caitlin Hayes is too good to let it get her down for too long. Just days after Hartson missed that Hampden penalty he went to Anfield and scored one of the best goals of his career, on an unforgettable night.

There are players who let mistakes like that define them. I’ve written here that Steven Gerrard has never recovered from the psychological impact of the slip which cost Liverpool a title.

He has brooded on it and obsessed over it ever since and that frustration has come to the fore many times, but he found a particular channel for it in his rage against us, because that stuff has to go somewhere once you let it take hold of your mind.

The thing is, I think she’s stronger than that. I remember asking her a couple of questions last year in the run-up to those massive decisive matches and she bristled at the idea of pressure as a negative. She’s right. For elite players it isn’t, and she expressed herself the way they do and as servant of Celtic’s she’s proved that she’s that good.

Where it will hurt – and it will hurt like Hell – is when she looks at her team-mates and gets the idea that she let them down. Guess what? In that moment she did, but every player goes through that at one point. The trick is to realise that you can’t make it up to them if you let guilt or grief burden you. That only makes things worse because in the games to come they have to look at her and know she’s with it, that her head is in the here and now and tuned to the moment.

So, the only way to go is to go forward, and she’ll know it and they will have told her that if she needs telling at all. So will her manager. More than that, they’ll have reminded her of something that is easy to forget. That victory and defeat belong to the team entire.

Kyogo’s goal might have won last week’s game, but you cannot look at that moment in isolation. At Ibrox, their fans are blaming Goldson for the mistake. But if his team-mates are better or sharper maybe that never gets scored, or maybe they score their own goal to put the team’s level. If Matt O’Riley isn’t brilliant and alert Kyogo never has any ball to run onto … and so you can’t simply isolate one moment or one error and call the game on account of it.

Caitlin Hayes is not the reason Celtic aren’t through. Are you going to blame the keeper – who had an outstanding night – for not saving a penalty or worse, for not scoring the decisive one? No, because that would be grossly unfair.

They say that victory has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan; in a team game failure certainly does not rest with one person alone. She can sleep easy. Teams lose and win together, and everyone knows that they’ll have a turn in the spotlight for one or the other at some point … it’s what you do next that matters.

She can let it be her undoing … or her motivation to reach heights she never thought even possible up until now.

Caitlin Hayes will shake this off and be as good, if not better, than ever.

She is made of strong stuff. I’m sure she will have actual nightmares about that moment for a while, and that she will, like all of us, replay it over and over the way we replay all of our mistakes … but she will not let it crush her.

She has a lot of good things in front of her at Celtic … this league title foremost amongst them.

On the day she holds that trophy in her hands, a distant memory is all this will be.

Share this article


  • Scud Missile says:

    News coming out of the BIGOT dome tonight Beale is already away announcement to be made tomorrow around teatime.
    McCann taking the reigns and Ferguson as his sidekick to boot some arses on the training ground,this is only on a temporary basis until Muscat details are finalised and sorted out with his club before being unveiled to the klan.

  • Jimmy R says:

    What an emotional night that was for the ghirls.
    I hope it doesn’t have a negative impact on upcoming games. They were so close.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    The Celtic Women have had a fair old bit of heartache in 2023, but recovered well from the brutal loss of The League with the last kick of the game to beat Sevco Women to The Scottish Women’s Cup…

    Hopefully The Ghirls prevail as League Champions this season – Though I’m annoyed that Sevco have one League and we don’t – but I think we are ahead on trophy’s by way of having won more cups than Sevco !

    Glasgow City trophy hall will take a wee bit of catching though !

Comments are closed.