Scottish Women's Premier League - Season so far Part 1
Photo Credit: SNS

The SWPL 1 campaign, alongside the SWPL 2, paused proceedings after round seven for three weeks from 11th January following Scottish government guideline changes on coronavirus. With that in mind, it seems an ideal time to look at what has gone on so far this season ahead of its resumption.

Celtic and Rangers LFC have both issued full time contracts this season, making them the first in SWPL history to go professional. The Gers sit joint top of the division with 13-in-a-row title winners Glasgow City, with the Hoops two points behind in third place.

There will be no relegations this campaign in the eight team division, with the league expanding to 10 teams in the 2021/22 campaign, seeing the top two of SWPL 2 automatically promoted. The top two sides in the division will gain Champions League qualification. 

This is part one of our two season so far roundups ready for the restart of the league pencilled in for week commencing 1st February.

  •  1st) Rangers LFC - 18pts 

Manager: Malky Thompson 

Ex-Blackpool assistant coach Thompson, 52, took the full time reigns of the Blues following his joint-head coach venture with Gregory Vignal last season. 

Last Season: 4th

A frustrating season for the club under Gregory Vignal saw a fourth-placed finish with Vignal describing the team's attempts to catch the likes of Glasgow City as "impossible". They reached the semi-final stage of both domestic cups, losing to the aforementioned Glasgow in both outings.

Key Player: Lizzie Arnot

A real coup for the side, and a first statement of intent, saw Rangers bring in Arnot from Manchester United. The Scotland international and former Hibs forward has shown her class so far this season with four goals in December earning her a Player of the Month nomination.  

Season so far: 6 wins, 0 draws, 1 defeat.

Rangers have been generally relentless in their quest to achieve a shift in power in the Scottish women's game. Their new full time status has allowed to attract five players from Glasgow City and a couple of players from England in order to up the levels. Gregory Vignal's departure has seen a more expansive and progressive game plan from Malky Thomson, although their 1-0 defeat to rivals Celtic in November left a bitter taste.

Standout Performance: Glasgow City 0-5 Rangers LFC

This was the Gers' last outing before the COVID suspension and it was a big one. Glasgow City have been the dominant force in Scotland for over a decade but they were torn apart by five different goalscorers for Rangers in a resounding victory. Kirsty Howat was on the scoresheet against Glasgow, last season's top scorer, just weeks after leaving them for Rangers.

  • 2nd) Glasgow City - 18pts

Manager: Scott Booth

Booth has been in charge of Glasgow since 2015, overseeing five league title triumphs in that time. The Ex-Aberdeen and Scotland striker has had it relatively easy in the SWPL 1 in his time, however the full time moves from Celtic and Rangers have meant Glasgow are no longer the priority destination for incoming players.

Last season: 1st

Another title success was an inevitability for Glasgow last season. An 11 point winning margin, with 104 league goals pays testament to how far ahead they were of all others in the division. Their Champions League campaign came to an end at the quarter final stage following a one-legged 9-1 defeat to Wolfsburg.

Key Player: Tyler Toland

The 19-year-old Manchester City loanee has joined Glasgow to play a part in the heart of their midfield. Also a Republic of Ireland international, Toland is highly thought of back in the North West and has played a key part in Glasgow's attempts to keep up with the Old Firm giants.

Season so far: 6 wins, 0 draws, 1 defeat.

Despite the levels they have set in recent years, given the large shift in the landscape of the division, keeping tabs on Rangers and Celtic this season is an impressive start. Booth's side were demolished by Rangers in their last outing but apart from that they have carried on their form that has seen them dominate leagues prior. A number of their early season goals have come from Kirsty Howat who has now moved to Rangers, so kicking on from that setback will be key.

Standout performance: Glasgow City 2-0 Celtic

In the season opener this was a big opportunity for Glasgow to put down a marker and they did exactly that. Goals from Rachel McLauchlan and Kirsty Howat earned a well deserved victory against a much improved Hoops side.

  • 3) Celtic LFC - 16pts

Manager: Fran Alonso

The former Lewes Head Coach, who led them to the FA Women's Championship title before his 2020 appointment at Celtic, has been part of a transformation in Glasgow. Ronald Koeman's former assistant at Everton oversaw an array of business and an implementation of a more attractive playing style, to put the Hoops in the mix for a league title.

Last season: 3rd

Progress was made last season with Celtic seeing an 11 point gap to title winners Glasgow City, the closest in many a year. They were goal difference away from being runners up, with quarter final defeats to Glasgow in both other domestic cups seeing an end to their season. 

Key Player: Sarah Ewens

The Scottish striker netted 20 league goals last campaign and has started this season in similar form. Four goals in seven games has seen Ewens remain an integral part of Alonso's side after signing her first professional contract at the start of 2020. 

Season so far: 5 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat.

Celtic have continued to improve as the season has progressed after their opening day defeat to Glasgow City. Apart from a slip up against Forfar in their round six 2-2 draw, they have kept up with Rangers and Glasgow, with their vital 1-0 win away against the Gers highlighting the ability they have to challenge this season.

Standout performance: Rangers LFC 0-1 Celtic LFC

As mentioned above, their Old Firm victory over Rangers is without a doubt the most important victory of the season. Despite a 10-0 win against newly-promoted Hearts, this derby win signalled Celtic's intent this season. A last-minute penalty from Summer Lynn Green saw Alonso's side pick up a deserved three points.

  • 4) Hibernian LFC - 9pts

Manager: Dean Gibson

Gibson took charge of the Edinburgh club, following Grant Scott's move to Glasgow City as assistant manager. Since his arrival, Hibs have sought to keep themselves in the picture on a league and cup front, particularly given the push from all three Glasgow clubs to kick on.

Last season: 2nd

Level on goal difference with fellow challengers Celtic, Hibs put in a terrific season. They did however see victory in the SWPL cup on penalties against Glasgow City, before defeat in the Scottish Cup to the same opponents saw their seven domestic cup wins in a row come to an end. Their Champions League campaign was also relatively successful with a run to the Round of 32 ending with defeat to Sparta Prague.

Key Player: Shannon McGregor

21-year-old McGregor has shone since joining the club in 2017 from Aberdeen. Her creative instincts and control on the ball has seen her become a key figure in the Hibs squad from attacking midfield. Injury issues of 2019 aside, she has performed well in the SWPL so far this season and will look to push the side onwards at the restart.

Season so far: 3 wins, 0 draws, 4 defeats.

It has been an indifferent campaign for the Hibees, with three of their four defeats coming at the hands of the big three in Glasgow. A shock defeat to Edinburgh rivals Hearts at the start of December was an unneeded setback and they are in danger of falling behind the top three given the difference in budgets. They will be hoping to put together a run of victories when the season restarts.

Standout performance: Hibernian LFC 2-1 Spartans WFC

Given the danger of Hibs falling behind, it was vital they got off to a winning start against fellow mid-table counterparts Spartans and they duly delivered. Goals from Eilidh Adams and Carla Jane Boyce made the difference in an important victory for Gibson's side.

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