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Preview: SSF Women's Cup 18/19

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With another season of SSF Women’s Cup action about to get underway proper, what better time to catch up on all you need to know, as the journey to next April’s final at Ainslie Park begins?   
19 teams began the tournament this year; Glasgow Caledonian 1’s, St. Andrews 3’s and Dundee & Angus 1’s have already fallen.
But with most teams entering the tournament at the last 16 stage - and with many of those matches taking place next week – YFS is here to bring you up to speed as we move one step closer to crowning this season’s champions.
Stirling are the team they’re all out to beat – they’re looking for a hat-trick of titles after winning the 2017 and 2018 competitions, defeating Edinburgh 2-0 in the last season’s final.
And YFS spoke to the head coach of Stirling’s first team, Craig Beveridge, who – despite only taking charge of the squad a little over a month ago – has been with the team at Lesser Hampden each of the past two seasons as they’ve claimed Scottish Cup glory.
As he explains, for a team that compete week in and week out against some of Britain’s best student teams in the BUCS Premier North Division, there is always a pressure to perform when they come up against Scottish opposition:
“We definitely go into the tournament with ambitions of winning it,” he said. “Because we’ve won it the last two years, I think the girls expect to win it – they know themselves that anything else would be seen as a massive disappointment.”
Stirling begin their quest for three in a row at home to Glasgow 2’s – although due to league commitments the fixture date has not yet been confirmed.
But Beveridge is looking forward to taking on Scottish opposition, yet knows the team can’t afford to take anyone lightly:
“We normally play against the same British teams and they’re quite physical and pose similar threats,” he said. “So it’s good to play against different teams.
“We try and get as much information as we can on [Glasgow 2’s] and see how they’re doing in the league and things like that.
“Fortunately, the girls are very professional, and they go into every game with the mindset of working as hard as they can and playing as well as they can.”
Such is the nature of student football, players graduate and re-building jobs are required on an almost season-by-season basis.
However, Beveridge explains, Stirling go into the cup this year with a strong core of players who know what it’s like to win the trophy.
He said: “We have seven or eight regular starters that were with us last year, so some of them have been here before.
“A couple, such as our captain Chloe Logan who’s been here for four or five years now, have seen and done it all.”
Glasgow 2’s will come into the match as underdogs, but they’ve already defeated Glasgow Caledonian 1’s 2-0 in this competition and will be hopeful of causing a major upset against a side three divisions above them.
Stirling’s second team are also in action; they travel to Abertay to take on their first team in a match of teams in contrasting form.
Abertay currently sit rock bottom of Division 1A with six defeats from six, whereas Stirling are flying high in Division 2A with three wins from three – a run that includes a remarkable 7-6 victory over Dundee 1’s.
One of the more intriguing ties of the last 16 will see an Edinburgh 3’s side that won 4-2 against St. Andrews 3’s in the last round take on Edinburgh’s first team.
The 1’s currently sit top of Division 1A and are fresh from a 6-0 victory over Edinburgh 2’s, so it’ll be tough for the Division 3A third team to impact the game, but it’ll be interesting to see how they equip themselves against their university’s top players – and the side that Stirling defeated in the final last season.
St. Andrews 2’s reward for defeating Dundee & Angus College in the first round is an away trip to Glasgow to take on their first team.
St. Andrews 2’s are another side with a 100% league record; they’ve won all three of their Division 3A matches this season, so they’ve every reason to go into the match full of confidence, but they’ll be up against a Glasgow side currently sitting second in Division 1A on goal difference and looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season - to St. Andrews first team – when they meet next week.
St. Andrews 1’s 2-1 victory over Glasgow moved them level on points with their opponents and Edinburgh 1’s at the top of the league, and they’ll be looking to continue building momentum when they host Heriot-Watt 1’s next week.
The Watt head to Fife looking for their first win of the season – they’re currently rooted to the bottom of Division 2A.
Robert Gordon 1’s welcome Strathclyde 1’s in a battle of Division 2A teams.
RGU got the better of Strathclyde when they met in the league at the end of October – 5-0 in Aberdeen – and are narrowly ahead of Strathclyde in the league, so will go into the game as favourites.
Also up north next week, Aberdeen 1’s host Edinburgh Napier 1’s.
It’s been a mixed bag in the league for both sides; Napier have six points from four games this season, whilst Aberdeen have six points from six games – although they are playing in a higher division than their visitors.
The final game from the round of 16 sees an Edinburgh 2’s side with one win from their first six league games take on Dundee 1’s in the capital next week.
The away team also only have one league win to their name this season and will be hoping to cause an upset against their Division 1A opponents.
Stirling 1  v  Glasgow 2
Robert Gordon 1  v  Strathclyde 1
Edinburgh 2 v  Dundee 1
St Andrews 1  v  Heriot-Watt 1
Abertay 1  v  Stirling 2
Glasgow 1  v  St Andrews 2
Aberdeen 1  v  Edinburgh Napier 2
Edinburgh 1  v  Edinburgh 3

Liam Dickson | YFS Central Region Journalist

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