Dyce and Inverurie Locos are gearing up for their biggest-ever challenges as they play in the second round of the Women’s Scottish Cup on Sunday.
Both clubs are in their second seasons and are making their Scottish Cup debuts this campaign.
Locos were set up in July 2022, while Dyce enjoyed a whirlwind start to life when they formed only six days before their first SWFL North league fixture in January this year.
Now, they are both preparing for testing Women’s Scottish Cup second round ties against teams who play two divisions above them in the SWF Championship.
Dyce have another trip to the capital to look forward to, after beating Edinburgh South in the first round, as they face Edinburgh City at Meadowbank.
Locos, who beat Cumbernauld Colts in the last round, will be aiming to make the most of their home advantage as they welcome Ayr United to Harlaw Park.
It is two tough tests, with Edinburgh City the current holders of the SWF Championship and League One Cup trophy, while Ayr United sit second in the Scottish third-tier.
For Dyce head coach Scott Duncan the clash with Edinburgh is set to be their most difficult yet – but it is a game he says his side will be embracing.
Duncan said: “It’s going to be our biggest challenge yet, but all of the girls have been talking about it non-stop and we’re all really looking forward to it.
“We had a good win against Stonehaven (5-1) at the weekend, so the girls are going in feeling confident.
“The Scottish Cup is something special and to be in the second round is a good achievement in itself and a reflection of how far we’ve come since the start of this year.
“It will be a tough game – we’ve done our research on Edinburgh City. They did well in the league and the cup last year, but are second-bottom of their league just now, which they will want to improve on.
“We just have to make sure we go there and make life as difficult for them as much as we can.”
It is a sentiment shared by Inverurie manager Stuart Wood, who wants his side to enjoy the experience of playing in the prestigious competition.
He said: “We’re going into the game hoping to enjoy it more than anything.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for us. It’s a good opportunity for us to play a different kind of team and to see if we can compete with them.
“We have played against Championship sides before in pre-season and you could see the difference in levels between the sides, but we competed in those games and have taken confidence from that.
“It should be a good day, and hopefully we can get a good crowd along to cheer us on.
“We’ve got nothing to lose. All we can do is learn from the experience whatever the result is.
“No matter what the result is we have to go out and enjoy the experience and learn from it.”
Good progress made by both teams
Since their formation, both sides feel they have made considerable progress which should stand them in good stead ahead of their Scottish Cup matches.
Both sides have made a good start to this SWFL North season, too, with Locos sitting second with a 100% record after three games, while Dyce are third with nine points from four matches.
Inverurie manager Wood said: “We have definitely improved from our first season.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls in the team and having the first season – which was the mini-league – helped them improve a lot, because they got a good few months of women’s football under their belt.
“It is more physical and faster than what they had played before, so getting that experience has helped us this season.
“We’ve started this season well. We can take confidence from that going into this game, which will be challenge against a different kind of team.”
Dyce coach Duncan added: “We’re a much strong team than when we started and that’s no offence to the players who were here at the start, but we’ve added numbers and depth.
“We didn’t have depth to begin with because we started so quickly, but now we have competition in all positions and training is very competitive – which is great for us.
“And what a team we’ve got. They’re not just a team, but they are all really close friends and they have built a strong sense of unity in such a short space of time.”
Although the task at hand is their second-round opponents, both coaches admit it is difficult to not look beyond this weekend and to the next stage when the SWPL teams – such as big-hitters Glasgow City – enter the competition.
Duncan said: “We know who is going to be in the next round if we are successful on Sunday.
“There has been a bit of chat about it because the girls are fans of those clubs, but we have to be level-headed and keep our focus and get fired up for Sunday.”
The other north Scottish Cup fixtures
SWFL North side Grampian, who previously played in the Championship when it was a regional division, are on the road against Renfrew in their second-round clash.
Caley Thistle host Drumchapel United, who play two divisions below the Championship in the SWFL West Division – where they are currently unbeaten and sit top of the table.
It is an all Championship clash for Westdyke as they welcome Greenock Morton to Lawsondale, having already beaten the same side in the league and league cup this season.