It’s time for part two of the Leading the Line Big Scottish Cup Semi Final Preview and it’s a repeat of last year’s final as current holders Hibernian take on beaten finalists from 2018, Motherwell. If you’ve missed part one have no fear as you can read the full preview of Rangers v Glasgow City right here. For now though let’s get straight to game two of what will hopefully be a Super Sunday.
Their journey so far.
Hibernian had a late start to their Scottish Cup campaign thanks to a successful Champions League qualifying expedition to Slovenia however, when the action did get underway, they were quick off the blocks as a crowd of over 300 saw them see off SWPL1 Stirling University 5-0 at a sodden Penicuik Park. A few days later, in conditions that couldn’t have been any further away from that midweek night in Midlothian, a Siobhan Hunter hat-trick would contribute to a 7-1 comeback victory over city rivals Heart of Midlothian at Oriam with Danni McGinley having given the Jambos an early lead.
In the Quarter Finals Grant Scott’s side made it past SWPL2 title challengers Hamilton Academical with Hunter again amongst the goals, this time scoring a double, as the eight time winners booked a semi-final spot courtesy of a 3-0 victory against a well organised Accies.
Motherwell required extra time to defeat SWPL2 Partick Thistle in the third round with goals from Katie Rice and Chelsea McEachran being enough to see the Women of Steel through. They would follow up that result with a 5-0 victory over SWFL1 – North side Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Ravenscraig, a scoreline they would repeat in the last eight against another SWFL side this time in the shape of SWFL1 – South promotion chasers Queen’s Park with young midfielder McEachran grabbing the headlines by scoring a hat trick as last season’s beaten finalists eased their way into the final four.
Head to Head
It’s three wins from three for Hibernian in the SWPL so far this season including 4-0 and 7-1 victories prior to the summer break, however a number of months has passed since those ties and the 2-0 victory for Hibernian last time out at Ravenscraig perhaps gives a truer reflection of what Donald jennow’s side are capable of. A Collete Cavanagh double did the job that day but during Tuesday’s press call Hibernian Assistant Head Coach Stewart McGuire was keen to point out the renewed challenge the Ravenscraig side provided.
It would be remiss not to mention the 8-0 defeat the Edniburgh outfit handed their opponents this Sunday in last year’s final and although Motherwell coach Jennow has said that result has driven a desire to right a wrong in this year’s competition both sides have changed significantly since then, with Motherwell in particular sporting less than a handful of survivors from that day.
Taking aside the Hibees two legged defeat in the Last 32 of the Champions League to Czech side Slavia Prague, domestically they haven’t tasted defeat since a 2-1 loss to Glasgow City in the first round of league fixtures after the summer break. That run has included a 3-0 victory over Celtic and a 13-0 demolition of Forfar Farmington this past Tuesday night. There has been times when the green machine hasn’t always clicked into gear during that spell however when they do there are very few sides that can live with their pace and passing movement.
Motherwell’s form since their return to action in August has seen them win two, draw one and lose one in the league. Victories over Stirling University and Forfar Farmington coupled with a point at home to Spartans sees Donald Jennow’s side currently sit fifth in the table a season after they sealed promotion from SWPL2. The only league defeat during that period came against Hibernian, however a point and narrow loss against Celtic has shown that the Well are capable of competing at this level on their day.
Hibernian – Rachel Boyle
I should preface this section by admitting I’m a fully paid up member of the Rachel Boyle is a Baller fan club. The metronome that brings experience to the heart of a young and exciting Hibernian side has a number of tools in her arsenal. Whether it be delivering from set pieces, playing balls down the channels for the running of Jamie Lee Napier or working triangles with Chelsea Cornet and Amy Gallacher, the impact of Boyle’s return to the side after a break to enter the world of parenthood cannot be underestimated.
With her fitness and conditioning returning to the levels that saw her earn initial international recognition Scotland Head Coach Shelley Kerr recently called her up for the national side’s training camp and the 27-year-old still has some of her best years ahead of her. If Motherwell are to have success come Sunday then pressuring the assured Boyle when in possession will be key in trying to halt the Hibees from settling into any sort of rhythm.
Motherwell – Chelsea McEachran
Whilst Boyle is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance, 17-year-old McEachran has had a breakout season for Motherwell culminating in a SWPL Player of the Month nomination for August/September. Sometimes deployed up top as a striker, McEachran tends to show her best form sitting a little deeper, a trait that was demonstrated to great effect during the recent victory over Forfar Farmington. Whilst the youngster had been creating the best chances of the game the introduction of Lori Gardner allowed McEachran to drop back and minutes later her through ball ultimately resulted in the substitute striker being fouled and the penalty that won the game.
She shows no fear in front of goal, and in the cup she has had a particularly prolific run scoring in extra time against Partick Thistle in Round Three, before bagging a double against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and a hat trick in the Quarter Final victory over Queen’s Park. Her diminutive size can be misleading because there is no doubt that McEachran is a player with the ability to go far in the Scottish game at the very least.
Motherwell have shown in spells throughout the season that they can pull a shock result out the bag, they have the ability to be defensively robust, and have a potential game winner in the shape of McEachran, but they have also on occasion succumb in the face of higher quality opposition. Whilst nobody should expect a repeat of the 8-0 scoreline from last season’s final, Hibernian have threats from back to front. There have been instances where it has taken them a while to break a side down but when they do they have shown a tendency to score goals in bursts that help pull them clear of their opposition.
Scottish Cup Semi Final Fixtures
Rangers v Glasgow City | 12:00 | Forthbank Stadium
Hibernian v Motherwell | 15:30 | Forthbank Stadium
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