Spartans need to "focus on themselves" as the race for SWPL top-six goes to wire
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The Edinburgh side slipped to eighth after both Partick Thistle and Motherwell picked up three points on Sunday. It means the race for the final place inside the top six will go to the final game before the split. Spartans will travel to local rivals Hearts this Sunday knowing that anything less than a win will mean they will spend the rest of the season in the bottom half. The Edinburgh side will also have to rely on Partick and Motherwell dropping points if they are to regain their sixth spot.
However, McCulloch insists she is not focusing on the surrounding teams. “[Top six] is still in our hands, Partick Thistle’s hands, Motherwell’s hands, whoseever hands it is,” she told the Edinburgh Evening News. “We just need to focus on us and that’s what we will spend this week doing.”
Full-back Sarah Clelland also believes her team can get something out of the coming game to beat their current challenge. Good results this season against the teams above the side have been plentiful as have already overcome Hearts twice this season, as well as Hibs and second-placed Celtic.
“If you look at our previous fixtures against Hibs and Hearts, we’ve been on top”, she added. “We just need to take that confidence going into the next game and if we play like we did against Rangers, we haven’t got any worries.”
Spartans might also take solace from the most recent performance against Rangers. McCulloch’s side matched the SWPL champions in every area and it would take substituting on Scottish international Brogan Hay to finally subdue the stubborn Edinburgh backline.
“We defended really well and it was disappointing to concede a goal in the manner that we did,” Clelland stated. “We defended really well, especially in the first half. They brought on two subs who were international players, but I still feel we coped very well and it's disappointing to drop points from the game because I thought we deserved something from it.
“We put them under a lot of pressure. We might not have had the chances that we wanted to have but we competed very well. They did time waste for a bit. You never see a Rangers team time waste so it does feel like we did put them under quite a bit of pressure.”
“We know we have got that in our locker”, McCulloch added. “We have proven that against Celtic, Hibs, Hearts by beating all of them. If you defend like that in a game, you aren’t going to concede many goals in this league. That gives you a fantastic platform. Our form has been great over recent weeks, last week we got six points, conceded one goal and scored three. Confidence will remain high even though we have lost.”