Capital cracker on the cards
Friday, 29 March 2013
This weekend city rivals Hibernian and Spartans clash in the first Edinburgh Derby of the new season with both clubs predicting a close encounter.
Hibs defeated Sunday’s opponents 3-1 in pre-season match however Spartans Manager Debbi McCulloch insists her side have made big improvements since then.
After a spirited comeback to win against Falkirk in the Premier League Cup and an excellent display against champions Glasgow City last weekend in the league, McCulloch believes her side have the spirit and character to fight all the way this season.
She said: “We were unbelievable unlucky not to come away with something from last weekend’s game against City because we created so many opportunities.
“The chances we had in the first half were amazing and included Sarah Ewens one-on-one, a wrongly chalked off Di Barry goal and of course Kirsty McLaughlin’s strike.
“It’s just a shame that we had 15 sloppy minutes just after half-time where we lost two goals and that proved costly.
“But we can take confidence from that performance and know that the gap between City and the other teams has closed and the competitiveness in the women’s game has increased.
“There are several teams that will now fancy their chances of winning trophies, including Hibs, who we face on Sunday.
“We played them in pre-season and they will be extremely confident going into the game after that performance, however I believe we are a tougher and more resolute team now than we were then.
“There is a desire and willingness to battle for every ball and every point which has been helped by strengthening certain areas of the park.
“All eyes will of course be on Kirsty McLaughlin returning to Hibs after playing for them last year.
“She was instrumental in their midfield last year and has shown already for us this year that she is a threat in front of goal and so I am really glad she is in a Spartans jersey and not a Hibs one.
“However, as we saw in the preseason game Hibs have an abundance of talent all over the field and so this game on Sunday will be extremely close with both teams looking for the three points."
Hibs haven’t lost to their rivals in over two years but midfielder Joelle Murray cautioned historical results mean nothing and the points will go to the side that wants them most on the day.
Murray said: “I expect a hard fought match between two very competitive teams.
“They are a good team with lots of talent all over the pitch.
“Obviously Spartans are our nearest rivals and past results against them have been pleasing however they will count for nothing this weekend and we cannot afford to underestimate them.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Women’s Premier League leaders Hutchison Vale face Celtic in the capital and Head Coach Ian McDonald believes his side will have to be at their best.
He commented: “Celtic have lost a lot of key players over the close season; players that any club would struggle to replace, however they are still a formidable team.
“We will need to try and stop them playing whilst at the same time ensuring that when we get the ball we work it into the key areas.
“Given their postponements, we will likely have the edge on match fitness however we cannot afford to start the game sluggishly as Celtic have enough quality to punish us.”
Elsewhere, Forfar Farmington look to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing draw against Hamilton by taking the scalp of champions Glasgow City.
City haven’t been as clinical as they have in recent seasons this year, however they are still unbeaten and defeating them remains a daunting prospect.
Aberdeen aim to build upon on their victory over Buchan when they make the long journey to Ayrshire to face another SWPL newcomer – Kilwinning.
Buchan and Rangers meet for the second time this season after recently facing one another in the SWPL Cup with the Ibrox side seeking a similar success.
Finally, Hamilton and Falkirk complete the fixture card with both clubs still looking for their first win of the campaign.
This weekend’s fixture in full;
Hutchison Vale v Celtic, Saughton Enclose, Edinburgh, kick-off 2.00pm
Hamilton Academical v Falkirk, John Cumming Stadium, Carluke, kick-off 2.15pm
Kilwinning v Aberdeen, Kilwinning Sports Club, Kilwinning, kick-off 2.00pm
Glasgow City v Forfar Farmington, Petershill Park, Glasgow, kick-off 2.00pm
Buchan v Rangers, Maud Junior FC Pitch, Maud, Aberdeenshire, kick-off 2.00pm
Hibernian v Spartans, Albyn Park, Broxburn, kick-off 2.00pm