By Tim Oliver
The Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 returns after the mid-season break, and there are two big derbies in both divisions. In SBSSWPL 1, Rangers play Celtic whilst in the SBSSWPL 2, EUHV host Hearts.
Aberdeen vs Stirling University
Heathryfold Park, Kick-off: 1pm
An Aberdeen side battling against relegation host a Stirling University side who are in the battle for third.
Aberdeen have had a challenging first half of the season, picking up just two points to date. But, they are only just one point from safety meaning that it remains in their own hands. With three home games in a row, they will take confidence from the fact their only points have come at home. Their attacker Megan Reid said, “We’re coming into a relegation battle, so coming into Sunday, we’re against Stirling and we’re going to come out flying.”
Reid felt the mid-season break had benefited them, saying,”The team has a lot more confidence, everyone believes in themselves better, we’ve been working really hard.”
Stirling University, now under the management of Grant Scott, are currently in fifth place and just one point behind third. They’ve won their past two league games and will be feeling that third place is a real possibility. Goalkeeper Chloe Logan felt that the season has gone okay so far, saying that they were, ”Hoping to climb the table a couple of places and take points off a lot of different teams for the rest of the season.”
On the prospect of travelling up to Aberdeen, “It’s always a difficult place to go. They’re very clever in how they play, make it difficult for us to break them down but we’re definitely going up there for the three points. If we work hard and play as well as we can, then I think we’ll be able to get that.”
The earlier game between the sides ended in a goalless draw. If Aberdeen win, they could climb up to seventh, whilst Stirling might move up to third if they win.
Spartans v Hamilton Academical
Ainslie Park, Kick-off: 1pm
Spartans, who are looking to move up to third, host a Hamilton Academical team trying to move further away from the relegation zone.
Spartans, who have a game in hand over the teams around them, sit level on points with third-placed Celtic. There are just four points between third and sixth, and Spartans’ Alana Marshall commented on this, saying “It’s getting harder now in the league because they’re strengthening their teams every year and the youth girls coming up have been absolutely fantastic so it’s getting more competitive, which is good.”
This will be Marshall’s first game back from injury, and said that she was “Really looking forward to it” and felt that Spartans had “The right mentality, so hopefully it will be a win.”
Hamilton Academical are in a relegation battle with Aberdeen and sit one point above the relegation drop. They’ve only picked up one win this season (against Aberdeen), but they’ve had a few close games where they were unlucky not to pick up points. Coming off the back of their cup win against Granite City, they will be arriving confident of picking up a result.
The earlier game in the season between the sides ended in a 1-0 win for Spartans. A win could see the
home side move up to third, something they could also do with a draw. Hamilton cannot move higher than their current position, but they could increase the gap from the relegation zone with a win.
Rangers v Celtic
New Tinto Park, Kick-off: 2pm
The return of the SBSSWPL 1 sees an Old Firm derby as Rangers host Celtic.
Rangers have had a hit-and-miss first half of the season but they will have a feeling of confidence going into the game against Celtic. In the past Old Firm match, Rangers outplayed Celtic with a highly impressive 4-1 victory, and this was the second win under new Head Coach, Amy McDonald.
Sitting in sixth place, they will be feeling that they will be able to finish the season in third place, and a win against Celtic could reduce the gap down to one point.
Celtic’s captain Kelly Clark felt that they had started the season “Really well”, but that “We’ve made the same mistake of being beat off the teams below us, which is really disappointing because that makes our lives more difficult going into the second half of the season.”
Losing to Rangers and drawing with Spartans are the results that Clark is referring to. She referred to the match against Rangers as a “Massive game on Sunday, especially the last time we played Rangers we got beat so we want to make that right.”
Third-placed Celtic can not move higher with a win, but they could drop down to fifth place with a defeat. Rangers cannot move higher or lower than sixth, but a win will see them close the gap on the top three.
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale vs Hearts
Peffermill Playing Fields, Kick-off: 1pm
There’s an Edinburgh derby in the SBSSWPL 2 as Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale (EUHV) host Hearts.
EUHV’s draw with East Fife has seen them move eight points clear of the relegation places, four behind sixth place. That result means that they can nearly start focusing on finishing as high up the table as possible.
EUHV’s Jude Shepherd feels that their season has “Been going well”. With the new partnership between Edinburgh University and Hutchison Vale, she felt the season “Was always about getting that going, keeping it stabilised.”
Ten of their 14 points have come at their home ground, Peffermill Playing Fields. Shepherd praised their home advantage, saying, “It’s been brilliant, the facilities have been incredible and it’s such an advantage for us playing on that pitch, it’s just great to play on.”
Hearts have lost both of their league games since the second half of the season started, although those games were against the top two sides, Forfar Farmington and Motherwell. This has seen them drop down to fourth place, and their target will be to finish as high up the table as possible. They’ve shown themselves to be a very strong team, and although they lost to Glasgow City in the Scottish Cup, they would have been proud of their performance.
The earlier game between the sides also played at EUHV’s home ground, ended in a 1-0 win for EUHV.
Regardless of the result, EUVH will remain in sixth place. Hearts could climb up to third with a win, but they could also drop down to fifth if they lose.
Buchan v East Fife
Maud Juniors, Kick-off: 2pm
Buchan host East Fife as the two sides in the relegation zone meet in the hunt for crucial points. Neither of the sides is completely unable to escape the drop but they cannot afford to drop too many points.
Buchan, Having picked up two wins out of their opening five matches, have failed to pick up another point and have lost their past eight matches.
East Fife still have a game in hand over Buchan and EUHV above them, however, they would have hoped to have beaten EUVH last Sunday, instead of drawing 1-1. But their focus on this game will be aimed at picking up the win to move up above Buchan. East Fife’s Stacey Penman’s said that she felt they could improve, saying it was “About trying to get the mentality to think that these girls are just as good as us.”
She felt the game against Buchan was “A good test for us. and that they had to take their game in hand as a “Positive.”
The previous game between the sides ended in a 1-0 win for East Fife.
Jeanfield Swifts vs Forfar Farmington
McDiarmid Park, Kick-off: 4pm
Fifth-placed Jeanfield Swifts host the league leaders Forfar Farmington.
After their 3-2 defeat to Motherwell, Jeanfield go into the game in fifth, and just two points behind the top four. Jeanfield’s captain Jade McDonald said that they “Were really unlucky against Motherwell” and that they were close to getting a result. She said that she felt that training was going really well, and that “We’ve been working really hard, so hopefully we will just continue it on the next half of the season, and hopefully get some really good results.”
The earlier game between the two sides ended in a 2-1 win for Forfar, and McDonald described it as “A really good game. We were really unlucky not to come away with a point, so I’m hoping we do really well this Sunday and at least get three points, if not a draw. I think we can show them that we’re not just a small team anymore, we’re just as good as any other opponent.”
The league leaders Forfar Farmington have started the second half of the league season with two wins, and have a six-point lead over second-placed Motherwell.
Defender Kayleigh Brough felt that the season had been going really well so far, and that they were “Looking forward to the game against Jeanfield on Sunday.”
Despite having dropped just four points all season, they aren’t getting carried away. Brough described their approach as “Taking it a game at a time, focusing on ourselves, it’s all we can do.”
Forfar will remain in first place, regardless of the result. Jeanfield Swifts could climb up to fourth with a victory.
Motherwell v Glasgow Girls
Ravenscraig Regional Football Centre, Kick-off: 4pm
The in-form SWPL 2 side Motherwell host Glasgow Girls.
Since losing their opening three games in the season, they have remained unbeaten, being the only team that has beaten the leaders Forfar and sit six points behind first place. Their run of results has been remarkable, and they will feel that they still have a chance of winning the title.
Glasgow Girls currently sit in third place, and have a game in hand over the sides around them and sit five points behind Motherwell. They are unbeaten in their past four matches, and Charmaine McGuire summed up Glasgow Girls’ season as “Pretty decent so far” although they had a few bad results in the first half of the season. But she felt that they still “Had a bit to prove as well so that’s what we’ll aim to do.”
On the game against Motherwell, she said, “I’m really looking forward to it. I really enjoy playing Motherwell, it’s always a good battle, a decent side as well to play against. It’s going to be a competition, but we’re in it to win it, so here’s hoping.”
The previous game between the sides ended in a 2-1 win for Glasgow Girls. Motherwell will remain second regardless, whilst Glasgow Girls will need to avoid a defeat to be guaranteed of remaining in third.