Rangers vs Partick Thistle: Read the free Sky Sports Cup final programme

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Eilidh Barbour, Presenter, Sky Sports Football

The 2023/24 Sky Sports Cup Final is here. Starting back on September 3, fast-forward 18 games and we have our two finalists. Rangers against Partick Thistle.

It’s a fitting match-up. Rangers have hit the ground running under new head coach, Jo Potter. Her side have lost just once this season and lead the title race by one point. While at Partick Thistle, they have solidified their position as a top-six side and have reached their first-ever elite women’s cup final. They are arguably the most improved side this season.

So how did we get here? 

In round one, the eight SWPL 2 teams entered. As has been the case this season, there were lots of goals across the four matches with 16 in total. Three of the matches were settled in extra-time as Kilmarnock defeated Gartcairn 4-3, Queen’s Park were 1-0 winners over Glasgow Women, and St Johnstone prevailed 3-2 against Livingston. The only side to win over 90 minutes were Boroughmuir Thistle with a 3-0 win away to Stirling University.

Round two saw the 12 SWPL sides enter and most results went as expected. Montrose produced probably the biggest upset of the round with a 3-0 victory at home to Motherwell while Boroughmuir Thistle came away 4-3 winners over league leaders Queen’s Park in the only all-SWPL 2 match. Thistle’s fellow SWPL 2 sides were both defeated as St Johnstone were on the receiving end of a heavy loss to Glasgow City while Kilmarnock were beaten 3-0 at home to Dundee United. The other matches saw Celtic win 6-0 against Hamilton Accies, Hibernian defeat Aberdeen 6-2, Partick Thistle down Spartans 2-0, and Rangers overcome Hearts 4-1 at Oriam in perhaps the tie of the round.

The quarter-finals saw two of Scotland’s top three sides meet as Celtic hosted Glasgow City on November 10. Surprisingly, it was a straightforward victory for the home side as they prevailed 3-0 on the night thanks to goals from Natalie Ross, Amy Gallacher, and Kit Loferski.

The other three matches were played two days later with both Hibernian and Rangers progressing to the semi-finals with 7-0 victories. The final match saw Partick Thistle come back from 1-0 down at home to Montrose to progress 2-1 with goals from Rachel Donaldson and Imogen Longcake.

The semi-final stage this season provided two classics of this competition. On January 19, Celtic hosted Rangers. It was 0-0 at half-time but the match burst to life in the second-half. Chloe Craig opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Celtic before Rangers fought back to take the lead from goals by Kathryn Hill and Kirsty Maclean. With the game looking over, there was late drama at both ends. Firstly, Celtic were awarded another penalty which Craig converted to bring the sides level. As if that wasn’t enough, Rangers were then awarded a penalty of their own right at the death. Rio Hardy stepped up and finished to put her side through to this final.

Next up, Partick Thistle hosted Hibernian in difficult conditions at Petershill Park. While it wasn’t a huge surprise the Jags prevailed, Hibs’ history within this competition as the most successful side and improvements since the return of Grant Scott to the helm seemingly gave them an edge. That wasn’t the case on the day though as it was Brian Graham’s side who dominated and were worthy winners thanks to Linzi Taylor and Rosie Slater’s goals.

Would it be a surprise if Partick Thistle defeated Rangers today? Somewhat. The two sides drew 0-0 in their most recent meeting in the league, showing how far Partick Thistle have come since their unexpected promotion to the top division in 2021. However, Rangers have won every other meeting between the sides before and will be desperate to make it back-to-back titles in this competition.

They say the first goal can be crucial in football, and I think today that’s more relevant than ever. Both sides are solid defensively with Rangers having conceded 13 goals (three in the Sky Sports Cup) across the season and Partick Thistle have conceded 30, but just once in the Sky Sports Cup. One goal in the last meeting would have been enough for either side.

For the Jags, they know they need to limit Rangers who are more emphatic and clinical in front of goal. They’ve scored 103 times across the league and the cup compared to Partick Thistle’s 40. For Brian Graham and his side, they’ve shut them out once this season and will hope to go one step further this time out.

No matter what, the 2023/24 Sky Sports Cup has been one to remember. You can expect more history on the pitch, regardless of the result.

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