Written by Tim Oliver.
There are eight brilliant ties in the First Round of the SWPL Cup. This round is seeded, meaning that every fixture features an SWPL 1 and an SWPL 2 club. The holders, Hibernian, begin their defence of the title with an Edinburgh derby against Hearts, whilst new SWPL clubs, Central Girls and Kilmarnock, play Stirling University and Glasgow City respectively.
Glasgow Girls v Hamilton Academical
Cathkin Park, Kick-off: 12pm
The first fixture in the 2018 SWPL Cup sees Glasgow Girls take on Hamilton Academical. The match will take place at the historic ground Cathkin Park, the second Hampden Park, and the ground of Third Lanark.
These two clubs have two similarities. Both are looking for their first win of the season, having lost their opening two matches and they were both knocked out of the competition at this stage last season. Hamilton suffered a shock defeat to Hearts whilst Glasgow Girls were eliminated by Aberdeen.
Glasgow Girls’ opening game saw them lose 4-1 to Aberdeen, although they finished the game with ten players. This was then followed by a 2-0 defeat to Hearts in the league which means that they are the only side in the SWPL 2 without a point this season.
Hamilton have lost both their matches this season by 1-0, losing first to Forfar Farmington and then to the champions, Glasgow City.
Under the current format of the SWPL Cup, which came in for the 2016 season, Glasgow Girls have once reached the Quarter-Finals (in 2016) whilst Hamilton have yet to progress past the First Round.
Forfar Farmington v Aberdeen
Station Park, Kick-off: 1pm
In the clash between the two clubs that swapped divisions this season, Forfar Farmington entertain Aberdeen.
Forfar Farmington, who won the 2017 SBS SWPL 2 title, have had an impressive return to the top flight. They beat Hamilton Academical and made life difficult for Hibernian before losing 2-0.
Aberdeen, who were relegated to the SBS SWPL 2, have had a hit-and-miss start. They won their opening game against Glasgow Girls and then lost last Sunday to St Johnstone. This means both sides sit fourth in their respective divisions.
Forfar Farmington were knocked out of the First Round last season by the eventual runners-up, Celtic, whilst Aberdeen went one stage further and were knocked out at the Quarter-Finals by Spartans.
Both sides also went one stage further in 2016 where Forfar were knocked out by Hibernian in the Quarter-Final whilst Aberdeen were eliminated by Glasgow City in the Semi-Finals.
Celtic v St Johnstone
K-Park Training Centre, Kick-off: 2pm
The 2017 SWPL Cup Runners-up, Celtic, host St Johnstone.
The Ghirls could give a debut to new signing, Josephine Giard, who they brought in this week as they hope to continue their unbeaten start to the season. After winning their opening fixture against Rangers, they dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Stirling University and sit third in the league.
St Johnstone began the season with what, to most, was considered a surprise defeat to Central Girls. They bounced back last week though with a victory over Aberdeen. They are sixth in the table and are one of four sides on three points.
Over their past two SWPL Cup campaigns, Celtic’s run have been ended by Hibernian. In 2016, they were eliminated in the First Round in a tense 1-0 defeat but last year, their run took them all the way to the Final. However, it would be Hibernian who lifted the trophy after winning 4-1.
St Johnstone (known as Jeanfield Swifts) have yet to get past the First Round or score a goal in the competition. They lost 5-0 to Aberdeen in 2016 and then 8-0 to Glasgow City last season.
Rangers v Motherwell
New Tinto Park, Kick-off: 2pm
Rangers host Motherwell with both sides having Glasgow City connections in the dugout. Rangers’ Head Coach, Amy McDonald, was previously the Youth Coach at City with Motherwell’s Head Coach, Eddie Wolecki-Black, the previous City Manager.
Rangers picked up their first win of the season last Sunday as a late Chelsie Watson penalty saw them beat Spartans 2-1, having previously lost their opening-day fixture to Celtic.
Motherwell’s opening day win over Kilmarnock has been overturned but they picked up an astonishing 8-0 win over EUHV last Sunday.
Over the past two SWPL Cup campaigns, Rangers have been knocked out by Hibernian. In 2016 they reached the Semi-Finals but last year they were eliminated in the Quater-Finals.
Motherwell were knocked out in the First Round last season in an epic 4-3 defeat to Spartans.
Hearts v Hibernian
King’s Park, Kick-off: 2pm
The first of two Edinburgh derbies in the SWPL Cup sees Hearts host the 2016 and 2017 SWPL Cup winners, Hibernian.
Hearts have been unbeaten so far this season, drawing 1-1 with EUHV before beating Glasgow Girls 2-0 to sit in second place in the SBS SWPL 2. In both games, Dani Pagliarulo has scored a penalty.
Hibernian have won their opening two games in the league, beating Spartans and Forfar Farmington but they have yet to score in the opening half. They have also been suffering significant injury problems and were only able to name three subs against Forfar.
Last season, Hearts were the only SBS SWPL 2 club to reach the Quarter-Final stage after beating Hamilton Academical 3-0 before being knocked out by Celtic.
Hibernian have won the competition five times, and if they lift the trophy this year, they will equal Glasgow City’s record of winning it six times. They’ve won in over the past two seasons and you have to go back to 2013 for the last time that they’ve not reached the final.
Glasgow City v Kilmarnock
Petershill Park, Kick-off: 2:10pm
The most successful club in SWPL Cup history meets the first SWPL Cup winners as Glasgow City host Kilmarnock.
These two sides are leading their respective divisions, and in the first four editions of the cup, they met three times in the final with Kilmarnock lifting the trophy each time.
Since then, it has been City who have become the dominant force in Scotland. The last time these clubs met came in the Quarter-Finals of the 2015 Scottish Women’s Cup, where City were 11-0 winners.
Last season, City failed to reach the Final of the SWPL Cup for the first time since 2011 when they were knocked out by Hibernian thanks to Abi Harrison’s last-gasp winner in extra-time.
There will be added emotion to the game as City say goodbye to club legend, Lauren McMurchie, who leaves the club to take up a job in Dubai.
EUHV v Spartans
Petershill Playing Fields, Kick-off: 2:30pm
The second of the Edinburgh derbies sees Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale (EUHV) take on Spartans with both sides looking for their first win of the season.
Both clubs will be looking to put behind painful defeats from last Sunday, both for different reasons. EUHV lost 8-0 to Motherwell after an astonishing first half and Spartans lost to a late penalty against Rangers, not long after equalising.
Last season, EUHV were knocked out by Rangers in the First Round 8-3, although there was a possible shock on as EUVH pulled a goal back to make it 4-3 in the 80th minute.
Spartans reached the Semi-Finals but were knocked out by the runners-up, Celtic, due to a late Suzanne Mulvey goal. Spartans have won the cup once, back in the 2006-07 season and they have also been runners-up a record five times.
Stirling University v Central Girls
Stirling University, Kick-off: 2:30pm
A local derby sees Stirling University take on Central Girls.
Last Sunday saw Stirling University pick up their first point of the season as they drew 1-1 with Celtic, the first point under new Head Coach Barry Rodgers. This came after a heavy defeat to Glasgow City in their opening game.
Central Girls won their opening game against St Johnstone after scoring three goals in the first half. Last week, they lost the battle of the newly-promoted sides, after being beaten by league leaders Kilmarnock 2-1.
Stirling have yet to get past the Quarter-Final stage but have twice won their opening First Round match. Last season, they beat Buchan 7-1 before being knocked out by Glasgow City in the Quarter-Finals. Central Girls will be making their debut in the competition.