A 1-1 draw at Ibrox in front of just 4,022 supporters protected Rangers’ four-point cushion at the top of the SWPL with Celtic left to rue a few pivotal moments in this game.

This looked far more like a Celtic side with genuine title aspirations than it has of late but ultimately a lack of a clinical edge proved costly. Rangers will point to a menacing opening period in which they clipped the crossbar and came close with a couple of chances but Natasha Flint, who scored Celtic’s opener just seconds into the second period, will still be reliving the chance she slashed wide when Celtic had a firm grip of this game.

As it was, Rangers duly took the reprieve with the leveller from 17-year-old substitute Mia McAuley. The game finished on a frantic note with both teams desperately pushing to win it; Caitlin Hayes had to intervene to prevent a Jane Ross effort heading into the back of the net while Celtic substitute Murphy Agnew also scorned a glorious opportunity to nick a winner.

Amidst the talking point now of just four points between the top three – Glasgow City’s win means they are level on points with Celtic – was the fact that Rangers made the decision on Saturday morning to cancel all away tickets with just under 900 sold.

It would not have been lost on Rangers manager Jo Potter, who spent her career in England and played for the Lionesses, that Arsenal sold out the Emirates on Saturday for their Women’s Super League victory over Manchester United. With just over 60,000 in the ground to see it, the Ibrox crowd looked embarrassingly sparse by contrast.

Whatever politics are at play, the SWPL simply cannot afford the optics of turning fans away when the women’s game is crying out for numbers and growth. Empty seats and a lack of atmosphere is never a good look and closing the door on a section of supporters was a ridiculous decision. 

Potter was, inevitably, coy on the matter.  “It is beyond me. It is well out of my control,” she said, holding her hands up. “I just didn’t want it to affect my players.”

Celtic manager Elena Sadiku lamented the call and insisted it was a decision that worked in favour of her side in terms of giving them something to prove.

“It is a shame,” she said. “We want women’s football to grow in Scotland. We take a step back when we don’t go in that direction. It is something to talk about, though, how well we performed with only Rangers fans. I wanted that extra effort for the fans.”

Celtic looked more cohesive and more assured at points in the game than they had in Sadiku’s opening games against Rangers and City. Ultimately, though, it is a result that favours Rangers who remain unbeaten this term.

“It is tight,” said Potter. “I say to my players we can’t just live for the Celtic and City games and we haven’t, they have been excellent. To be sitting at this point four points clear, I have to be happy with that.”

Sadiku was encouraged by the display but couldn’t hide her frustration that she did not leave having cut the deficit at the top to just one point.

“We should have won,” she said.  “The goal they scored came from a situation where Kit falls and we should have controlled it better but that is the only chance they created in the second-half.

“I am so proud of how we are progressing as a team and how we are growing and playing better and better. Compare this to my first performance against Rangers, it shows how much we have grown as a team.

“We are not happy with the point. The full potential of this team is not there yet. We have more to give. Everyone in Celtic knows that we are in a good condition to win the league. They are only four points ahead. We have to play against all the teams in the top six twice but it is important we focus on every game and keep on building because that is how it will be possible.”