By Tim Olver
There are some huge games in the SWPL this season, including key games in the SWPL 1 and SWPL 2 title races.
Celtic v Hibernian
K-Park, Kick-off: 2pm
Celtic host the SWPL 1 leaders Hibernian as both sides look to lay down their title credentials.
Celtic have already played Glasgow City at home this season where they drew 1-1 to remain unbeaten. They’ve already shown their title credentials this season, and they will know that if they pick up at least a draw, they would be making a huge statement. Last season, it was these games against the top two sides where they failed to take points meaning they looked unable to mount a title challenge. With an SWPL Cup Semi-Final to look forward to next Sunday, there really is a feeling of optimism around Celtic.
The same could be said about Hibernian. They are the only team in the SWPL with a 100% record in all competitions, but face a critical three weeks for their season’s ambitions. After the game against Celtic, they face back-to-back games against Glasgow City. Once in the SWPL Cup Semi-Final and the other in the league. Hibernian have so far looked imperious in the league, scoring 16 goals in three games, but there is no doubt that this is their biggest test to date.
Whoever wins, will have a chance of finishing the day in first place whilst the side that loses could drop down to fourth. However, a draw could keep Hibernian in first place due to their goal difference.
Hamilton Academical v Glasgow City
Superseal Stadium, Kick-off: 4pm
Hamilton host the SWPL 1 champions as they look to pick up their first points of the season. They also play their first game in their new home kit.
Hamilton have strengthened their side in the past week, bringing in Jordan McLintock from Rangers and ex-Rangers and Queen’s Park keeper, Rachel Halbert. But three games in, they currently sit with no points. It is far too early to be talking about any side being in relegation danger, and the key thing in these games will be the character the side show. Last Sunday’s 6-0 defeat to Hibernian has been an anomaly for Hamilton this season where their matches, even against Celtic, have been close affairs.
Glasgow City know the importance of winning this game as they look to keep up the pressure on Hibernian and Celtic. City are currently two points behind Hibernian but as with Hamilton, none of the top three have any significant advantage in the title race. Apart from the 1-1 draw with Celtic, City have been producing some stunning performances, scoring 11 goals.
If Hamilton win, they could climb up to fifth, but even with a draw, they could climb up out of the relegation place and as high as sixth. Glasgow City need to win to have a chance of going first and will need Hibernian to lose against Celtic. If Hibernian draw against Celtic, City can go first if they win by five goals.
Rangers v Aberdeen
New Tinto Park, Kick-off: 4pm
Rangers and Aberdeen meet at New Tinto Park in a game key for both sides’ ambitions to beat the drop.
Rangers go into the game without any points this season. They’ve been unlucky, including losing 5-3 to Stirling University in an epic game and lost 3-1 to Spartans last Sunday. But, whilst the season is still very young, Rangers will know the importance of getting points on the board and putting a run together that can increase confidence.
The same can be said about Aberdeen. Unlike Rangers, they have picked up a point this season, in a home draw with Spartans. However, this was followed up by successive defeats to Hibernian and Glasgow City. In both of those results, they can take positives from certain periods of their defensive play. But, they will travel down to Glasgow with the ambition to pick up a minimum of one point, and for that, their defensive display will have to be consistent across the 90.
Whoever wins could move up to fifth in the league whilst the team that loses could end the game bottom of the SWPL 1.
Stirling University v Spartans
Stirling University, Kick-off: 4pm
Stirling University meet Spartans as both sides look to end the day in the top half of the table.
Stirling University have only picked up three points this season, but having played against Glasgow City and Celtic, they will not be too disappointed by that return. The result against City will have been the low point, but they will take positives from the defeat to Celtic, especially their effort in the final moments as they looked to mount a comeback. Their only win of the season so far in the league came in a 5-3 win over Rangers.
Spartans have had an incredible start to the season, and are level on points with Glasgow City and Celtic in joint second. They have yet to lose a game, with their only dropped points coming in a draw against Aberdeen on the opening day of the season. With the recent signing of Michaela McAlonie from Hearts, and an SWPL Cup Semi-Final next Sunday, things are looking very positive for Spartans.
Stirling cannot climb higher than their current position of fifth, whilst Spartans could end the day in second with either a win or a draw, depending on other results.
Hearts v Forfar Farmington
King’s Park, Kick-off: 2pm
For the second week in a row, Forfar Farmington play one of their pre-season title rivals, although this time, they go into the game three points ahead.
Hearts would have hoped to have gone into the game level on points with Forfar, but last Sunday they lost 2-0 to Motherwell, their first defeat in the league. Everything had been going well for them before the game having won all three games, including an impressive win over Jeanfield Swifts. However, they will be looking to bounce back with a win and if they either draw or win, it would mean that they have gone unbeaten at home for over a year.
Forfar Farmington are continuing with their superb form since the start of the season, winning all four of their league games to date. Last Sunday, two goals in the second half saw them beat Glasgow Girls 2-0, a game that both sides had gone into with a 100% record. They will know that a win against Hearts will lay down a marker for their title credentials.
Hearts will need to beat Forfar Farmington 3-0 to move up to first, whilst Forfar will remain top of the table unless they lose by a three-goal margin or more.
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale v Motherwell
Pefermill Playing Fields, Kick-off: 3pm
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale (EUHV) and Motherwell meet in the capital with both sides full of confidence.
EUHV started the season with two consecutive 2-1 defeats, but since then, things have been looking up. Firstly, they beat East Fife 3-0, and then last Sunday, they defeated Jeanfield Swifts 4-3 in an incredible encounter. Pick up a third win in a row, then they could end the day as part of the title race.
Motherwell had lost their opening three games, although, they have shown their potential to have a successful season. Last week, they caused a huge shock by beating Hearts 2-0 to pick up their first ever SWPL points. Currently, they are in a group of four clubs on four points.
EUHV could move into the top three with a win, whilst Motherwell could overtake EUHV in fourth with a large win.
East Fife v Glasgow Girls
King George V Park, 12:30pm
East Fife host Glasgow Girls as they look to win their second home game in a row.
Similarly to their fellow promoted side Motherwell, East Fife had began their debut SWPL 2 campaign with three straight defeats. However, this changed last Sunday as they beat Buchan 1-0 at home. If East Fife can turn King George V Park into a fortress, then clearly that will benefit them later on in the season as they look to beat the drop or finish as high up the table as possible. They are in a group of four teams on three points.
Glasgow Girls, however, will be a difficult proposition. They will look to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Forfar Farmington as they look to get their title race back on track. A win against East Fife would be a symbolic victory to show they can bounce back from disappointment.
A win for East Fife could see them move up to fourth, depending on other results, whilst a win for Glasgow Girls could see them move up to second. An unlikely set of results could see them move up to first, but they would need Hearts to beat Forfar and they’d need to win by at least six goals.
Buchan v Jeanfield Swifts
Maud Juniors, Kick-off: 1pm
Buchan host Jeanfield Swifts as both teams look to bounce back from disappointing defeats.
Last Sunday, Buchan lost 1-0 to East Fife as they remained on three points from their opening four games. Two of their defeats came on their travels and it seems that as last season, Buchan will be very strong at home. Their only home defeat came against Glasgow Girls, a side that are expected to fight for the title.
Jeanfield Swifts will be feeling unlucky to go into this game with only three points. They conceded a late goal to Forfar, they missed a few great chances in their defeat to Hearts, and last Sunday they lost a 4-3 thriller to EUHV. If they can make improvements in defence, they will feel confident that they can move up the table.
Both teams are on three points, and they could both climb up to fourth with a win.