By Tim Oliver
Sunday sees the SWPL Cup Semi-Finals with two incredible games. There is also a game in SWPL 1 as Hamilton and Aberdeen meet, with both sides looking for their first win of the league season.
Spartans v Celtic
The first Semi-Final sees Spartans take on Celtic in a fascinating encounter.
Spartans have had a superb start to the season, with their only blip coming in their opening day draw with Aberdeen. They will go into the Semi-Final against Celtic as the underdogs, however, they will not be going into the game overawed. In fact, you can say that the game will show where they are in their development. Of course, Spartans have a habit of causing shocks, most notably beating Glasgow City 3-0 in the SWPL 1 last season.
Spartans are past winners of the competition, lifting the trophy back in the 2006-07 season when they were known as Edinburgh Saints and they beat Hibernian 4-1. They’ve also reached five other SWPL Cup finals and lost all of them, with the last coming back in the 2013 competition which Glasgow City won 5-0.
Celtic themselves have had a superb start to the season, with their only blemish coming in the defeat to Hibernian last Sunday. Apart from that, they have been unbeaten, including drawing 1-1 with Glasgow City. The evidence so far this season shows that Celtic are on course to challenge for silverware this season, with their signings fitting in well. They will be seeing the Semi-Final as a real chance to get into their first domestic final since 2010.
That final in 2010 was their only SWPL Cup Final to date, and they were victorious, beating Spartans 4-1.
Spartans beat Motherwell and Aberdeen to reach the Semi-Finals, whilst Celtic defeated SWPL 2 sides Forfar Farmington and Hearts.
Glasgow City v Hibernian
The second Semi-Final sees the repeat of the 2016 Final, which Hibernian won 2-1 thanks to Lizzie Arnot’s last-gasp winner.
Glasgow City is the most successful team in the SWPL Cup history, winning the trophy six times and including four times in a row between 2012 and 2015. But after last season, where they lost both domestic cup finals to Hibernian, City will be looking for revenge as they look to regain both trophies.
City have had a strong start to the season so far, only dropping two points in a draw against Celtic. But it means that they are trailing the current SWPL 1 leaders Hibernian. With the two teams meeting each other in the league next Sunday, this is a key period in both side’s seasons.
Hibernian have had the best start to the season of all the SWPL sides, winning all four of their league games to date and, of course, having a 100% record in the SWPL Cup. As holders of both of the cups, they are looking to do something they have yet to do, despite winning the SWPL Cup four times, defend the trophy. Their first success came in the 2004-05 season, and they followed this up three seasons later.
Glasgow City defeated Jeanfield Swifts and Stirling University to reach this stage whilst Hibernian beat East Fife and Rangers.
Hamilton Academical v Aberdeen
Superseal Stadium, SWPL 1, Kick-off: 4pm
This game, rearranged due to Scotland U19 internationals, will be a key game in both Hamilton’s and Aberdeen’s seasons.
Neither team will be relegated if they lose on Sunday but both teams know they need points on the table, assuming they both continue their current form.
Hamilton Academical are yet to pick up a point in the SWPL 1, but having played Celtic, Hibernian and Glasgow City, they will not be panicking yet. They’ve made recent additions to their squad, including signing Jordan McLintock from Rangers and will be aware of the importance of the game. In a league as competitive as the SWPL 1, Hamilton will be looking to gain momentum.
The same can be said about Aberdeen. After drawing their opening game to Spartans, they have failed to pick up any more points. They will have to bounce back from last Sunday’s painful defeat to Rangers where they conceded a last-gasp goal.
If Aberdeen win, they will jump up to fifth place. Hamilton will move up to seventh with a win, sixth with a three-goal winning margin, and fifth if they win by six goals. Of course, both teams will have played one game extra compared to the other SWPL 1 sides.