Scotland continued their good international form with a well-fought win over their southern neighbours in Stirling. This may have been another clash with the auld enemy but this match was definitely about the new vein of players and how both nations compared to each other in 2017.
Forget your Gemmells, Shearers and Dalglishs, this was a chance to see what players were destined to take their places in English and Scottish history books. The passion was still there, though, just like any other game between the two sides at any age group. This was clear as both teams sung their national anthems with pride ahead of the match, this was patriotism in the form of sport.
England kicked off and made sure to press high up the pitch and make this Scotland back line react with tetchy clearances and mistakes on the ball. England found most of their initial attacking threats through the left back Matthew Bondswell as Scotland’s Cameron Logan often sat too narrow allowing Bondswell a lot of space to easily collect the diagonal balls played to him and run at the backtracking Logan, often causing problems for the centre backs who would have to clear with last-ditch tackles to keep the scores level.
Bondswell was booked on six minutes after slicing Cameron Logan from behind which allowed Scotland to slow the pace down and get involved in the game which eventually resulted in them winning a free kick on the left wing.
The ball was chipped by Connor Smith to the back post where miraculously Cole Starrs, Josh Grigor and the captain Ben Cameron were all unmarked but Starrs’ header was tame and Harvey Collins in the England goal collected with ease.
Just as the first half was drawing to a close, England’s Rafael Garcia, who had in truth struggled to be effective in the game up to this point, took a pass from the left and was dragged to the floor by Ben Cameron just inside the box as Garcia attempted to shift the ball onto his right foot.
The referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot and Tottenham’s Nonso Madeuke stepped up to take the penalty just before half time. Madeuke’s side stepping run aimed to confuse Jack Newman in the Scotland goal but the ‘keeper confidently leaped to his bottom left to tip the shot wide and then stood tall to block Alexander Mightem’s rebound effort. An excellent display from Newman to round off a fairly even first half.