Scottish Women’s Football pyramid warming up

Livingston warm up. (Alex Todd | Sportpix for SWF)

With no SWPL games due to the international break, the Scottish Women’s Football pyramid provides plenty of domestic action this weekend.

The third and fourth tier of women’s football in Scotland, the women’s Championship and League One seasons, move into a decisive period where promotion can be secured, while the Biffa SWFL regional leagues press on with a short season which can lead to promotion to the national leagues for the first time.

Livingston are 15 points clear at the top of the Championship after last week’s record 10-1 demolition of third-placed Renfrew and look to be in pole position for promotion to SWPL2 in the summer.

Mid-season signings Brogan Anderson from Motherwell and former Partick Thistle winger Beth McKay have helped the West Lothian side kick on in recent weeks, and they welcome bottom side Morton to the Toni Macaroni stadium on Sunday at 4pm looking to build on that momentum.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Karen Mason threw the gauntlet down to her players early in the year after a frustrating first half of the season which saw them drop into the bottom half of the table. They responded by becoming the first team in months to take points from Livingston, securing a 3-3 draw at home before beating Edinburgh side Hutchison Vale 2-1 in the capital last Sunday.

The Highlanders make the long trip south on Sunday to visit an Ayr United side who have kicked on in 2023, boosted in part by good performances in the Scottish Cup. A series of victories have lifted Ayr into the top half of the table, three points ahead of their visitors.

Having been the surprise package in the Championship this season, with the league’s top scorer in captain Angyl Learmonth and known for remarkable second-half comebacks, Hutchison Vale have recently lost a number of key first team players and suffered a dip in form. The young side faces a tough trip to Glasgow on Sunday to face second-placed Rossvale, who themselves will have a point to prove after being taken apart by Rangers in the cup. The Petershill-based side have signed Gartcairn’s Kelsey Martin to bolster their SWPL ambitions.

After spending the first half of the season rooted to the bottom of the Championship, Dundee side Dryburgh Athletic won four games in a row to claim the best form in the league, which has lifted them up the table only two points behind Inverness Caley Thistle. They travel to Renfrew on Sunday to face a team who are bound to want to respond positively to last week’s result.

Championship and League One Cup winners FC Edinburgh have been imperious in League One, unbeaten and having only conceded five goals all season. The capital club have made no secret of their desire to climb up to the highest level in the game but were not placed in the Championship last season because they did not meet criteria to provide pathway opportunities for young girls.

Falkirk and northeast side Westdyke have also had impressive seasons so far and the race for the promotion slots is wide open. Both teams have attackers with 19 goals apiece already, in Westdyke’s Kayleigh Traynor and Falkirk veteran and former Rangers striker Suzanne Wyatt.

The two sides face each other on Sunday at the Falkirk stadium for a real six-pointer in the race for promotion. But Stenhousemuir and Grampian Ladies also have ambitions and are only three and six points behind second place. They too face each other on Sunday in what will be a competitive fixture.

With no relegation from the Championship at the end of the season, the two top-placed sides in League One who meet the criteria will be promoted.

Also looking at promotion will be sides in the regional Biffa SWFL leagues.

For the first time, the sides who finish top in the North, South, East and West leagues will be given the opportunity to play in play-offs to enter the national set up in League One. This excludes development teams from existing clubs who will remain in the regional set-up next season.

The short season will run January to May to align the calendar with the performance arm of women’s football and create the pyramid.

Currently Forfar Farmington top the Biffa SWFL North despite having dropped their first points last Sunday in Inverurie. They host bottom side Westdyke Thistle on Sunday.

Unbeaten Queen of the South lead the Biffa SWFL South and host a Nithsdale Wanderers side on Sunday who picked up their first point of the short season last Sunday in a draw with Annan Athletic.

Glasgow side Harmony Row are three points clear at the top of the Biffa SWFL West and welcome Bishopton on Sunday.

Grangemouth’s Central Girls top the Biffa SWFL East with maximum points and travel to Fife on Sunday to face Dunfermline Athletic.

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