After SWPL Cup action, the international break and the snowy weather, football is back and the Scottish Building Society SWPL has once again thrown up eight intriguing games with the top three of the SWPL 1 facing difficult away trips and the SWPL 2 seeing another set of exciting games in a highly competitive league.
Rangers v Hibernian
New Tinto Park, Kick-off: 11am
Sunday’s action begins nice and early as Rangers host Hibernian at 11am.
Rangers reached the Quarter-Finals of the SWPL Cup after a hard-fought win over Motherwell whilst Hibernian had a tricky win over Hearts. These two sides meet in the Quarter-Finals later this month.
In the league, Rangers picked up an important late win over Spartans with a Chelsie Watson penalty and showed themselves to be a side with great character and spirit. That was their first win of the season and their new signings have fitted together and look like an exciting young side that could cause any side trouble.
This will obviously be a different sort of challenge against a team that is expected to fight for the title but are facing their own sorts of problems.
Although Hibernian have won all of their games this season, there has been a few issues regarding breaking teams down and they have yet to score in the first half this season. Against Hearts, they had the chances in the first half but there were large periods where they struggled to create clear chances against a brave defensive display. You can turn this on its head by saying its the sign of a great side that they are finding the wins whilst not playing to their best. They’ve certainly not been helped by a significant injury crisis.
You have to go back to 2014 for the last time that Rangers beat Hibernian and in that season, Rangers went unbeaten against the Edinburgh side.
Forfar Farmington v Celtic
Station Park, Kick-off: 1pm
Fourth meets third as Forfar Farmington host Celtic.
Whilst Celtic have often had the better in this fixture, the games have often been close affairs. Celtic beat Forfar 1-0 in last season’s SWPL Cup First Round. Both of the teams progressed through to the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup this season after beating Aberdeen and St Johnstone respectively.
Forfar Farmington lost their last league game to Hibernian but will be pleased with how difficult they made things for a side looking to fight for the title. Their other game was an impressive 1-0 win over Hamilton Academical and already at this stage of the season, it is clear that they belong in this division.
Celtic will come up to Station Park knowing they can’t afford to drop points like they did against Stirling University when they drew 1-1. Their signing of Josephine Giard, who made her debut against St Johnstone, will give them another dimension in attack with the possibility of playing two up front.
Spartans v Glasgow City
Ainslie Park, Kick-off: 1pm
Bottom meets first as Spartans host Glasgow City and these two sides will meet two weeks later in the SWPL Cup Quarter-Finals.
Although City will be the favourites, Spartans are the only team to beat Glasgow City in the league for nearly ten years (although that has happened only twice).
Spartans are one of two sides yet to pick up a point this season in the SBS SWPL 1 but in both league games, they can feel aggrieved not to have taken more. They put up an impressive defensive performance against Hibernian and then against Rangers. If they had shown a more clinical edge then perhaps they could have taken all three points.
Glasgow City will be pleased with how they have started. Three wins, first place, and yet to concede a goal in the league. They have now gone ten months without conceding in the SBS SWPL 1.
Stirling University v Hamilton Academical
Stirling University, POSTPONED
Stirling University host Hamilton Academical, a game between two teams yet to win this season.
Stirling have had questions asked of them with a new Head Coach and the loss of several key players. But their performance against Celtic shows that they have the ability to be fighting for the fourth spot that they have secured in the past two seasons.
Hamilton Academical are pointless this season. Whilst their defeat to Forfar Farmington was disappointing, they impressed many against Glasgow City and may feel slightly frustrated not to have taken a point from the match.
Stirling University have won their past seven games between the sides but only twice has their victory been greater than one goal, so this is likely to be a tight and exciting match.
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale v Glasgow Girls
Peffermill Playing Fields, Kick-off: 1:05pm
Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale (EUHV) take on Glasgow Girls in a game between the two sides in the SBS SWPL 2 without a win. The two sides are in the relegation places in the league with just one point separating them.
EUHV started the season with a draw againstHearts in a game which they may have felt they could have taken all three points. However, their last league game was one they will wish they could forget after they lost 8-0 to Motherwell. They can take heart from their SWPL Cup defeat to Spartans though where they made things really difficult for the SBS SWPL 1 side.
Glasgow Girls, who are the only SBS SWPL 2 side still in the SWPL Cup with their First Round game against Hamilton Academical to be played on the 15th March, have lost both of their opening games. The matches have been against teams expected to fight towards the top of the table and their defeat against Aberdeen was not helped by having a player sent off.
St Johnstone v Hearts
McDiarmid Park, Kick-off: 4pm
St Johnstone host an unbeaten Hearts side.
St Johnstone sit on three points and have suffered a goalkeeper injury crisis, with three keepers missing out on their SWPL Cup defeat to Celtic. They are hoping Becky Cameron will be able to play against Hearts.
They will also be hoping to win their first home game of the season having lost to Central Girls in the opening weekend of the season and will be hoping to improve on their win away to Aberdeen.
Hearts will be hoping to continue their impressive start to the season. They’ve picked up four points from their opening two games to sit in second place and were unlucky not to take Hibernian to extra-time in the SWPL Cup after an impressive defensive performance.
Kilmarnock v Aberdeen
Rugby Park, kick-off: 4pm
The leaders of the SBS SWPL 2, Kilmarnock, host Aberdeen.
Kilmarnock may be leading the league due to being awarded a win over Motherwell but that should not take away from what has been an impressive start to life in the league. In their last league game, they beat fellow new side Central Girls and they look to continue that form against Aberdeen.
Aberdeen are sitting on three points having won and lost once in their SBS SWPL 2 campaign. Having won their opening day way trip to Glasgow Girls, they lost their opening game at their new stadium against St Johnstone.
Motherwell v Central Girls
Braidhurst High School, Kick-off: 4pm
Motherwell host Central Girls in the final 4pm kick-off in SBS SWPL 2.
Having seen their opening game win over Kilmarnock overturned, Motherwell are sitting in third place and have had a really impressive start to the season. They made things very difficult for Rangers in the SWPL Cup and beat EUHV 8-0 in a stunning performance that has put down their marker as title challengers.
Central Girls pushed Stirling University all the way in the SWPL Cup and were unlucky not to take them to extra-time. They won their opening game, away to St Johnstone with an impressive first-half performance, before losing their previous league match to the other newly promoted side Kilmarnock.