THERE is a bigger prize than usual to play for in today's Sky Sports Cup semi-finals. The winners of the two ties will face each other in the first-ever Scottish women's match to be shown on the broadcaster's channel.

The final is at Tynecastle on December 11, but, in a break with tradition, today's semis are not being played at neutral venues. Glasgow City play Hibernian at Petershill Park, while Spartans host Rangers at Ainslie Park.

The reason, apparently, is to save on costs, and neither of today's away teams appears to have any problem with the decision. Rangers head coach Malky Thomson said: “Obviously it would be better being at a neutral ground, but for us it makes no difference.

“We've played there enough times and we're aware of the conditions and environment so we are ready to play.”

Rangers have played eleven domestic games this season – nine in the league and two in today's competition – and have yet to concede a goal. In attack they are averaging just over five a game, with 57 scored.

It's another huge test for Spartans, who even before today have been involved in much cup drama. They needed extra time and penalties to overcome Hearts and holders Celtic in the previous rounds.

“Our journey in this cup has already been special,” head coach Debbi McCulloch confirmed. “The two wins, and the manner we've done them on penalties, have created memories that will last in our dressing room for a very long time.

“When it went to penalties in the quarter final I felt there was much more confidence. When we played Hearts everybody looking at their toes, whereas against Celtic five or six players stepped up straight away.”

Spartans have reached the final five times, losing all of them, but the team they took over, Edinburgh Ladies, won it in 2006. Rangers have never made it to a final.

By contrast, the two most successful sides in the history of the competition meet in Glasgow. There have been 19 completed League Cups since the first in 2002-03, with Hibs winning seven of them and City six.

HAMILTON Accies forward Josi Giard showed remarkable honesty in last Sunday's 2-1 win over Spartans. Referee Rhys Struthers pointed to the spot when the striker went down in the box with her side losing 1-0, but Giard got to her feet, approached the official, and told him she had slipped and not been fouled.

It's fair to say her instinctive reaction was not shared by all her team-mates. But despite it being within the laws of the game for a referee to reverse a penalty award, the Ainslie Park match official didn't.

There have been precedents. In a Bundesliga game between Werder Bremen and Nuremberg in 2014, the referee changed his decision when Aaron Hunt told him that the surface, rather than a Nuremberg defender, caused him to dramatically tumble in the box (it looked like a clear dive).

Two years later a player at another German side, FC Bocholt, also successfully persuaded a referee to overturn a penalty decision.

In perhaps the most famous such incident, Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler urged referee Gerald Ashby not to award a penalty after he had gone down in the box under a challenge from Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman at Highbury in 1997. It was a high stake Premier League title match but Ashby refused to listen and Liverpool won the game 2-1.

Fowler later received a fair play certificate from Uefa, and Spartans' McCulloch paid her own tribute to Giard, who went on to score the winner.

“It was a fantastic level of integrity and honesty. Our players were even shocked,” the Edinburgh side's head coach told me. Giard, who joined Hamilton from Celtic, is German and maintained the high standards of her Werder Bremen and FC Bocholt counterparts.

SERIOUS disciplinary incidents continue to besmirch some age group games in Scotland. A girls' under-14 game in Edinburgh last Saturday had to be abandoned after 63 minutes.

A fight between two players resulted in both being sent off, and it was apparently followed by two older male relatives getting involved in a confrontation. The young female referee, unsurprisingly, decided enough was enough.

A spokesperson for Scottish Women's Football said: “Aggressive behaviour towards opposition and officials will absolutely not be tolerated.

“As part of our ongoing work to support growth in our game we have written to all clubs to remind them of their commitments to fair play, to respect the referee and opponents, and of their responsibilities when it comes to the behaviour of supporters also.”