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Rachel Corsie: SWPL 1 title race feels like it will go down to last-day photo finish

Glasgow City take on Celtic Women for the Scottish Women's Cup this weekend.
Glasgow City take on Celtic Women for the Scottish Women's Cup this weekend.

My old team Glasgow City stayed a point above Rangers at the top of SWPL 1 after they beat Celtic last week.

The 2-1 win was vital for City as the top-flight sides began this season’s final round of fixtures.

A well-taken goal from Priscila Chinchilla opened the scoring midway through the first half, before Clare Shine’s header gave City a 2-0 lead at the break.

Charlie Wellings did pull a goal back for Celtic, but it turned out to only be a consolation in the end.

Celtic have been plagued by injuries to their goalkeepers of late, and things were made worse when Anna Vincenti – their third choice – was hurt in the opening minutes of the clash with City. Defender Kelly Clark stepped in to take the gloves, with no back-up goalkeeping option on the bench.

This run of bad luck regarding keepers has contributed to results which have been costly for the Hoops. The 10-point gap between them and second-placed Rangers will be tough to close now.

Although City currently hold top spot, it is Rangers who remain the favourites to lift the title, given they have two games in hand and only that one point deficit.

The top-two will clinch the all-important Champions League places for next season, but Rangers will be desperate to go all the way and to make history by ending Glasgow City’s 14-year reign as Premier League champions – a remarkable stretch that has made them the most successful team in the Scottish women’s game.

The race does look set to remain a closely-fought battle that will likely go right down to the wire.

Rangers will still need to play City in early May, and the result of that match – two weeks before the end of the season – could create the conditions for a thrilling photo finish on the final day. The last Old Firm game is set for the very last day of the season at Celtic Park.

Celtic will likely need a win in that game if they are to make any challenge for second place, if that’s still a possibility by that point. If nothing else, the consolation of stopping Rangers lifting the title on their home soil will certainly be big motivation.

This weekend, Glasgow City will play Partick Thistle at home in the first game of the day on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Rangers will welcome Spartans, who are the only other side outside of the top two who have won their last three games. They are unbeaten in four matches.

Aberdeen will be hoping Rangers can get a result which helps the Dons to climb back into the top half, should they win their own game against bottom-of-the-table Hamilton.

Eilidh Shore holds off Spartans’ Simone McMahon in a SWPL 1 fixture. The teams are competing for fifth spot.

The Reds will then welcome Rangers at Pittodrie in midweek, and arriving on the back of two wins to that game would certainly be preferable for Emma Hunter’s team.

Elsewhere, Celtic face Motherwell, with the Edinburgh derby the final fixture of this weekend’s domestic action.

If Arsenal find best form now, it would be perfect timing

The UEFA Women’s Champions League returns this week as the competition enters the quarter-final stages.

Arsenal are the only team left in the prestigious competition out of all the British sides who qualified at the start of the season. They will face Wolfsburg in the last eight – and the German team have a favourable record against English opposition.

Wolfsburg knocked Chelsea out in their final group match in January, disposing of the English Champions 4-0, and, although Chelsea overcame them in last year’s semi-final, that is the only time Wolfsburg have been eliminated by an English team.

The Germans and Arsenal did previously meet in a 2012-13 semi-final, where Mintlaw’s Kim Little featured and scored. The aggregate result across the two legs was ultimately 4-1 to Wolfsburg, however.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall with Aberdeenshire’s Kim Little.

Arsenal should be fresh, despite their FA Cup quarter-final game against Coventry on Friday, with a number of players rested in preparation for the Continental tie. Leah Williamson, Viv Miedema and Beth Mead will all likely return to the starting XI for what is certainly one of Arsenal’s biggest games this season.

Some would argue the pressure on Arsenal to perform is mounting going into the European clash, but it could also be the catalyst which sees Arsenal return to the top of their game at the perfect time.

They are a side filled with experience and talent and, as the games get more and more important, finding a run of results now would lead to a euphoric finish to the season.

Wednesday night’s clash at the Emirates should be a great spectacle and it will be the final quarter-final first leg game to be played.

Good to see pitiful FA Cup cash increased

After some mounting pressure, the FA have announced the FA Cup prize money is to be significantly increased.

Starting next season, the prize pot will increase tenfold, as it rises to £3 million from £300,000.

As last season’s winners, Chelsea, were awarded a pitiful £25,000 for their accomplishments in what is one of the most esteemed competitions in the women’s game.

Scrutiny had been building, with public uproar after the last round of fixtures.

The remaining FA Cup quarter-finals take place on Sunday. Ipswich Town host West Ham United, League Cup winners Manchester City are on the hunt for more silverware as they take on Everton, and Chelsea welcome Birmingham City.