Jake Perry looks ahead to the start of the Beyond Boundaries Women’s Scottish Cup, where holders Carlton face a tough home tie against the side that finished just behind them in the Women’s Premier League, Stewart’s Melville.
The Beyond Boundaries Scottish Cup gets underway this weekend, with four quarter-final ties to decide the teams going forward to Finals Day on 5 September. The tie of the round is at Grange Loan, where newly-crowned Women’s Premier League champions Carlton meet runners-up Stewart’s Melville, the only side to have beaten them in their victorious campaign earlier this summer.
A month has now passed since the league was decided, but while a number of players from both teams have been involved in the ongoing Women’s Super Series, there has been plenty of other action to keep their competitive edge keen.
“We’ve had a few matches,” said Carlton skipper Annette Aitken-Drummond. “We’ve played a few ESCA T16 games and a lot of the players have been playing in the Super Series as well, so there have been quite a few games to keep things ticking along. But we’re really looking forward to getting stuck into our first cup match at the weekend.”
While Carlton’s title win was comfortable in the end, that one blemish on their record adds extra spice to the upcoming encounter. Stew-Mel’s defence of their total of 176 for 8, a score powered by a 91-run opening stand between Catherine Holland and Emma Walsingham, withstood the pressure of a brilliant late comeback from Samantha Haggo and Charis Scott, and while the challenge of Holland’s team fell away as the season progressed, Annette is expecting a similarly testing encounter.
“It’s a very tough game for us to have first up,” she said, “but we feel we’ve got the players who can go out and do the job for us. They have obviously got some good players too, but we’re going to give it everything and hopefully get to that Finals Day.”
And while the year began with the league as the main target for the current cup-holders, thoughts have inevitably turned towards what would be an historic double.
“If we could go out there and become the first women’s team to do the league and cup double, that would obviously be a great achievement,” said Annette. “It’s something that we have chatted about and it’s something that we have our sights set on, so fingers crossed it starts to come together at the weekend.”
Another intriguing tie is at Nunholm, where Dumfries & Galloway take on West of Scotland, who finished the WPL season with a near-identical record. West’s final position was skewed by the COVID-cancellation of their first two rounds of matches, however, and Charlotte Dalton-Howells’s side will be keen to make the most of their opportunity to salvage something special from what has been a particularly frustrating year.
Royal High Corstorphine visit Craiglockhart to take on George Watson’s College in a repeat of the opening match of the league season. That ended in a comfortable win for Megan Taylor’s team, who went on to have an up-and-down sort of campaign, mixing fine wins with narrow losses. While injury has robbed them of Ikra Farooq, they are still capable of beating anyone on their day, and despite the abundance of young talent who have made their mark for GWC, the Barnton team are likely to have too much firepower for them again.
The final tie of the round is at Myreside, where Watsonians meet Grange, the side with whom they combined in the WPL this year. A third-placed finish was the result after three excellent wins saw them draw level on points, if not run-rate, with Stew-Mel in the final standings. It will be particularly fascinating to see how this game pans out – for two of Edinburgh’s oldest clubs, a first-ever trip to Finals Day is now guaranteed.
Beyond Boundaries Scottish Cup Quarter-finals – 8 August (Reserve Day 15 August):
Watsonians v Grange (at Myreside)
Dumfries & Galloway v West of Scotland (at Nunholm)
Carlton v Stewart’s Melville (at Grange Loan)
George Watson’s College v Royal High Corstorphine (at Craiglockhart)
Jake Perry is the author of The Secret Game
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