It was a busy Sunday of Scottish Women’s Football with the last 16 of the Scottish Women’s Cup providing most of the talking points. Here at Leading the Line we wanted to share our three main takeaways from the events of the weekend.
Aberdeen on the rise
It’s easy to get lost in the headlines of another cup shock for Emma Hunter and Harley Hamdani’s side. The co-managers watched on at Balmoral Stadium as a double from Francesca Ogilive and a Bayley Hutchison strike sealed a 3-1 win against SWPL2 FC Kilmarnock. The visitors were weakened by a combination of work commitments and suspensions but it is yet another notable scalp for the SWFL1 North leaders.
It’s not just the Dons ‘A’ side that is riding a wave of success though with the U19’s currently clear at the top of a U19 National Performance League and having won the National Performance League Cup earlier this summer. This rise has been rewarded with international recognition as the aforementioned Ogilive and teammate Elidih Shore take their place’s in U19 coach, Pauline Hamill’s training squad. With the majority of women’s football coaching and talent still largely focused in the central belt Aberdeen are in a unique position to grasp control of the game in the north of the country and they will no doubt be looking for another big challenge to continue their evolution when the quarter-final draw is made on Wednesday.
Glasgow City win 20-0 but…
There has been a lot of debate about the format of the Scottish Cup. Both Glasgow City, with a 20-0 win over Dundee City, and Hamilton Academical, with a 12-0 win over Clyde, racked up double figure victories in the round of 16 but I think the reality is that the format is maybe is good as it can be, for now.
At present the 16 SWPL sides enter the tournament at the Last 32 stage, bringing them in any later would be both a logistical headache and do a disservice to the progress from the levels below. The gap from SWPL2 to the top of the SWFL1 is closing in the same way that the gap at the top of SWPL2 is closing in on the bottom half of SWPL1. Aberdeen have already knocked out two sides from leagues above. Inverness Caledonian Thistle knocked out Hutchison Vale before succumbing to SWPL1 Motherwell this weekend whilst SWFL1 Queen’s Park have also made it to the last eight albeit facilitated by a kind draw. Proposed changes are set to be approved at next month’s AGM which will see those clubs further down the pyramid be given the ability to opt out of the competition meaning that future campaigns will hopefully be more competitive, and the sides who are on the wrong end of a heavy defeat truly are learning from it.
SWPL International Recognition
As I viewed Hibernian’s 7-1 Edinburgh derby victory against Hearts from the shaded side of the park at Oriam on Sunday news filtered through that Hibernian duo Amy Muir and Jamie Lee Napier had been called up to the squad in placed of the injured Erin Cuthbert and Fiona Brown. Both had graduated from the U19’s this summer after competing at the European Championships and are rewarded for some sparkling form since the summer return.
Napier has seen her role shifted towards the centre and has reaped the benefits with six goals since, including three in the Hibernian’s successful UWCL qualifying trip to Slovenia. She spoke enthusiastically post-match about the call up and she has long been ear-marked as a potential future international star. Muir, who had always impressed during her time at Rangers and has been equally tipped for the top, has gone up another level under the guidance of Grant Scott and an increased fitness regime. On Sunday the former Scotland U19 captain was again proving to be a key outlet for her side before an injury just after half time put her squad place in doubt.
Their call ups bring the total SWPL representation in the squad to nine, and whilst players such as league top goalscorer Kirsty Howat may wonder when their chance will come it is promising to see that high-performing domestic talent are being given the opportunity to make their mark on Shelley Kerr’s squad.
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