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#SBSSWPL 2018 Preview – 15/04/18

Scottish Building Society SWPL 1

Forfar Farmington v Spartans
Station Park, Forfar – 13:00 KO

It’s sixth versus seventh in SBSSWPL 1 and a win for either team will provide some added breathing room from bottom spot.

Since returning to the top division, Forfar Farmington have shown they’re here to stay with battling performances in their first three matches. They opened 2018 with an important 1-0 win away to Hamilton and, despite losing their next two games, they’ve been against two tough opponents. Those loses to Hibernian and Celtic were also only by two goals to nil.

For Spartans, the new season has been tough so far but it’s too early for any alarm bells. They may have only one point from four games but two losses were to the title chasers, Hibernian and Glasgow City. The other loss was a narrow defeat to Rangers, which could have gone their way. In their last outing, they drew 0-0 to Celtic, which should give them confidence coming into this match.

A win for either side could lift them up to fourth. It could swing the other way though, as a loss could potentially leave either side bottom.

Hibernian v Glasgow City FC
Ainslie Park, Edinburgh – 13:00 KO

Perhaps the biggest Scottish Building Society SWPL tie of this Sunday as two rivals go head-to-head. While it’s too early to talk of title deciders, this game will certainly set the tone for the remainder of the season. A win here will give the victors a huge confidence boost ahead of the SWPL Cup Semi-Final and going into the next league fixture between the sides.

At Glasgow City, the title holders are hoping to continue their march towards 12 titles in a row. They’ve already scored 11 goals in their first three matches and, while their remarkable clean sheet run was broken against Spartans, they’ve still only conceded once. Despite some changes before the new season, City look as formidable as ever and will be aiming to continue their run of league victories over Hibs.

In the East, things have not quite been as simple for Hibernian. They’ve won all their games, but by smaller margins than they’d probably like. Injuries have played a part in this and with the resignation of manager Kevin Milne, there is an air of uncertainty about this Hibs team coming into their biggest match of 2018. They’ll be relying on their more experienced players for this one and hoping to draw on their cup form, which has seen them defeat City in the last four meetings.

As always, this is going to be an exciting match. While City might be the slight favourites for this one, you can never rule out Hibernian.

Rangers v Stirling University FC
New Tinto Park, Glasgow – 14:00 KO

The sides in the middle of the table meet with a real opportunity to close the gap on the top three and create a healthy gap from bottom.

Rangers have had a mixed start to the new season, which is perhaps unsurprising given the young age of their squad. They currently sit in fifth place after loses to Celtic and Hibernian. While their one win was a narrow 2-1 victory over Spartans, it was an important result that has moved them away from bottom.

For Stirling University, their impressive ability to pick up points in this league has continued and they sit in their favourite position, fourth. They have finished here for the last two seasons and while it’ll be tougher in 2018 to remain here, they seem up for the battle to finish in the top half. Since a heavy opening day defeat away to Glasgow City, they’ve draw 1-1 away to Celtic and saw off Hamilton 3-0 a fortnight ago.

The winner of this match won’t be able to overtake Celtic in third but a Stirling win would keep them fourth. If Rangers win, they’ll leapfrog Stirling but may remain in fifth depending on other results.

Hamilton Academical WFC v Celtic
New Douglas Park, Hamilton – 16:00 KO

The last Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 fixture of the day is Hamilton v Celtic as the bottom side host third.

For Hamilton, it hasn’t been the start they’d hoped for. They were narrowly defeated 1-0 against Forfar and Glasgow City. These were strong performances, especially against the league champions, but it has left them with no points. In their last outing, a fortnight ago away to Stirling, they were defeated 3-0. We’re only three games in though, so Hamilton know there is plenty of time to climb off the bottom spot.

At Celtic, they might feel disappointed with their start as well. They sit third and are undefeated, but two wins and two draws leaves them with work to do in order to catch Hibernian and Glasgow City. If they do have ambitions to challenge for the title, they’ll most likely need positive results against City and Hibs and to win all of their remaining games.

A win for Celtic could find them top of the table, should Hibs and Glasgow City draw. If either side is victorious in that match and Celtic win, they’ll end up in second. They could also end up second if they draw. At the other end, a win for Hamilton could see them climb up to sixth. Even if they draw, they could jump up to seventh if Spartans lose.

Scottish Building Society SWPL 2

Aberdeen v Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale
Aberdeen Sports Village – 13:00 KO

It’s sixth versus fifth in Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 as both teams look to climb the table and away from the two relegation places.

At Aberdeen, the season started brightly and it looked as if they would be battling at the top of the table. Since the opening day 4-1 win away to Glasgow Girls, they’ve lost their last two games and find themselves just above the relegation zone. They are far from out of the race for the top but they’ll need to pick up wins and fast.

For Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale (EUHV), 2018 has been all about goals so far. Their opening day 1-1 draw against Hearts was their lowest scoring match as they then suffered an 8-0 loss to Motherwell and, in their most recent match, were 5-1 winners at home to Glasgow Girls. It has been a mixed bag so far for the Edinburgh side but the potential to cause issues in the division is clear.

Given how competitive this division is, a win for either side could jump them all the way to second, though Aberdeen would need a big swing in goal difference. A loss could leave the losers bottom of the league and a draw could find them both in the relegation places.

Hearts v Central Girls FA
Kings Park, Dalkeith – 14:00 KO

It’s fourth versus seventh in this game and despite the difference in the table, only one point separates the two teams.

For Hearts, they’ll be looking to bounce back from their recent 3-1 loss to St Johnstone. So far they’ve won one, drawn one, and lost one. With two teams relegated, one run of bad form could see any team dragged into a battle they want to avoid. Hearts almost experienced this towards the end of last season, so they’ll be hoping to replicate their 2016 form where they were title challengers.

At Central Girls FA, it has been an amazing start to 2018. They won Club of the Year at Falkirk Council’s annual Sports & Arts Awards Ceremony, Chelsea McEachran won Player of the Month on Thursday, and they’re enjoying their start to life in SBSSWPL 2. An opening day win to St Johnstone was a surprise result and while they’ve lost their last two games, they’ve put in strong performances. They’ll be hoping for a win on the road to get them back to winning ways.

A win for Hearts could see them up to second place but they can’t overtake FC Kilmarnock who are top. A draw would mean they can’t climb any higher but they’d likely remain out of the bottom two. As for Central Girls, a win would realistically get them as high as third. A draw, or even a loss, could lift them out of the bottom two depending on other results.

St Johnstone v FC Kilmarnock
McDiarmid Park, Perth – 16:00 KO

Perhaps the biggest game in the Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 is third placed, St Johnstone, hosting top of the table, Kilmarnock.

St Johnstone have played four games so far, one more than the teams around them. In those games, they’ve won two and lost two. Surprisingly, their two loses have come against the bottom two sides and they’re two wins have been against two early ‘title’ contenders. They’ll want to gain a bit of consistency if they are to challenge towards the top of the table.

The only team with a 100% record so far, FC Kilmarnock, sit top of the table coming into this one. While their opening day loss to Motherwell was overturned to a 3-0 win, they’ve shown they are a strong addition to the league. They’ve defeated fellow promoted side, Central Girls, and former SBSSWPL 1 side, Aberdeen. This away tie will be another test of their title credentials.

If Kilmarnock win or draw, they’ll be guaranteed to stay top of the league. If they lose, it’s more than likely they’ll remain second over St Johnstone due to goal difference. If St Johnstone lose, they could fall down the league but they won’t drop into the bottom two.

Glasgow Girls FC v Motherwell
Petershill Park, Glasgow – 16:10 KO

The final Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 match of the weekend is second top versus bottom. Despite the league difference, it’s certainly not a guaranteed result.

Glasgow Girls FC, who have been title challengers since the new league set-up, have had a bad start to 2018. Three loses from their opening three games left them bottom, to the surprise of most. However, a fortnight ago they defeat St Johnstone 4-0, and showed the sort of performance that replicated their previous seasons. They’ll be hoping to build on that.

In the way is Motherwell, who are considered by many as the title favourites. If their opening day victory wasn’t overturned, they’re be top of the table and have a 100% record. However, despite that disappointment, they’ve bounced back in fine style. They defeated EUHV, 8-0, and saw off Central Girls FA, 3-1. They look a formidable force and will take some stopping.

If Motherwell win and FC Kilmarnock lose, they’ll most likely climb top due to their superior goal difference. A draw or a loss could see them fall down the table, depending on other results. As for Glasgow Girls, a win could see them reach as high as third, if results went their way, and a draw could get them out of the relegation places. A loss would likely leave them remaining bottom.

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