RANGERS will be hoping to continue their excellent recent form when they meet Hibs in the first of the SWPL Cup semi-finals at Ainslie Park tomorrow. The tie is followed by the second semi between Aberdeen and Glasgow City.

Rangers have nudged themselves into second place in SWPL1 almost by stealth, but it is a reward for three successive wins. By contrast the other outsiders, Aberdeen, have struggled in the league – although they did record their first win in five attempts at Stirling on Sunday.

The most remarkable aspect of Rangers’ run is that it follows a 5-1 thrashing by Celtic in the first league game ever played at Parkhead. The scoreline slightly flattered the winners, but Rangers head coach Kevin Murphy is delighted at the way his players have bounced back.

“It’s quite easy when you get beaten by that scoreline for the girls to feel sorry for themselves, but they have responded really well and that’s pleasing,” he said.

Murphy believes his pre-season strategy of bringing in several experienced players, most notably central defender Rhonda Jones, is paying off. Whereas his young squad fell away badly last season, the side now has more resilience.

Jones, who won 117 Scotland caps, shows no signs of abandoning her uncompromising style of play at the age of 37. “Rhonda is great,” Murphy said. “It’s the first time I’ve worked with her. She’s a great professional – she trains like she plays, and has added steel and grit to the team.

“I told the experienced players who came in that they might not see the fruits of their labours because they may have retired by then – but they’re going to leave a lasting impression on our 16-18 year olds.

“Football is no different from any office – you need a mix of experience, opinions and personalities.”

Rangers lost 3-1 to tomorrow’s opponents earlier in the season, and even then their goal came late in the game. That makes Hibs strong favourites to reach the final again, even if Chris Roberts’ side looked flat in last Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Glasgow City.

Aberdeen lost just 1-0 to Glasgow City at the Excelsior earlier this season, but Scott Booth’s side have raised their game and it will be a shock if the holders don’t make the final.