SWPL1: Celtic continue Cup form as Rangers close in on first league title

The Lassies' Game column graphic.

As the SWPL1 makes its return this week following the international break, it’s time to recap on the latest news both in the league and SWPL cup.

Rangers look to continue their unbeaten run in the hopes of a first ever title. Meanwhile, Hamilton sit bottom of the table with only one win in the competition so far.

It’s all but over in the Scottish top flight, so make the most of the live fixtures this weekend and get in on the action.

Same old Celtic story

Despite Rangers’ unbeaten run in the league, their hunt for the cup has been cut short yet again by their Glasgow rivals, Celtic.

For the second year running, Fran Alonso’s side managed a scrappy win to see themselves in the next round of the competition to defend their title.

Clarissa Larisey opened the scoring in Airdrie, but Demi Vance’s header from a corner cancelled out the home team’s advantage before half-time. It would be die hard Celt, Chloe Craig, who would go on to secure the win for the Hoops.

It seems to be a recurring problem for Malky Thomson’s Rangers when faced with Celtic — especially in knockout competitions. Last season they failed to record a win over Celtic on four occasions. Only once this season have they come out on top, thanks to a stunner from former Man United star Jane Ross.

The Gers cant sulk for too long though. They’re set to face Celtic at home this Sunday in a bid to go five points clear at the top of the SWPL with a game in hand.

Speaking to RangersTV, captain Brianna Westrup said: “They always give us a challenge when we play them. We’ve just played them quite recently so we’re going to have to move on from that result [1-0 cup defeat] and analyse things we can do better on the park.”

A giant leap to a first title

It’s not all doom and gloom in the rivalry department for the Light Blues. They hosted Glasgow City in early February and put in undoubtedly one of their best ever performances.

It was all Rangers in the first half — Sam Kerr and Brogan Hay being thorns in the sides of City. The SWPL1 top goalscorer of 2020/21, Lizzie Arnot, opened the scoring in Milngavie with a sublime effort from outside the box.

Ireland international, Niamh Farrelly doubled the home side’s advantage with an own goal before half-time.

Adding to the pressure, Gers’ number one Jenna Fife was shown a straight red. The visitors were unable to capitalise on the extra player, instead they conceded a third.

Adding to her derby day tally, Ross headed home to seal the all important win. To soften the blow, Clare Shine pulled one back minutes before the full time whistle. In an unlikely story, it was total domination from start to finish for the league leaders.

A fight for fifth

An exciting addition to the SWPL1 this season, Aberdeen have proved themselves a top side. Since being promoted from the SWPL2, they’ve caught the eye of many onlookers.

Emma Hunter has led her team to wins against Spartans, Hearts, and most notably, Hibernian. A goal from Eva Thomson in the opening ten minutes was enough to secure all three points. They now sit sixth in the league, 11 points above bottom spot Hamilton.

Vastly improving from last season, Motherwell occupy fifth, just one point above the Dons. Since taking over in May 2021, Paul Brownlie has utilised his well-known status to recruit top players.

Scotland legend Leanne Crichton and rising star London Pollard are just two of the signatures he has secured.

Having such experience and talent within the changing room has only brought positive outcomes, with the Well now looking to finish the season in that top five spot. They’ll have to see off their closest competitors in Aberdeen this weekend if they want to make that place theirs.

This weekend’s SWPL1 fixtures

Aberdeen vs Motherwell — 2pm kick off

Glasgow City vs Hibernian — 1pm kick off (Live on BBC Sport Scotland)

Hearts v Partick Thistle — 3pm kick off

Rangers vs Celtic — 2:10pm kick off (Live on BBC Alba)

Spartans v Hamilton — 1pm kick off