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Thursday, 06 September 2018 22:16

Hornby hat-trick keeps Scotland in the mix in group D

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Fraser Hornby hit a hat-trick as a crowd of over 2,000 watched Scotland run out as comfortable victors over Andorra at Tynecastle in group D of the UEFA European Championship qualifying.

Scotland played some good stuff struggled to turn that possession into quality chances. A penalty moments prior to the interval gave the hosts liftoff and from then on, it was only going to go one way.

Hornby, who proved to be a real asset for Scotland with his physicality, rounded off his hat-trick with two goals in the latter stages of the second half to move Scotland onto 11 points, and keep the pressure on the English and the Dutch.

The first meaningful chance came on five minutes as Mikey Johnston slipped a reverse ball into the path of Fraser Hornby, but the striker saw his low shot blocked and roll behind for a corner. He was at it again a few minutes later but this time Iker was to deny, as the keeper held on to his downwards header.

Hornby continued to be at the forefront of the action, although he had a penalty claim waved away after hitting the ground in the midst of a give-and-go with Stevie Mallan.

Scotland were comfortably on top for the majority of the first period but struggled to create a real clear-cut opportunity. A bit of luck helped the lively Hornby in behind once again with 23 minutes on the clock, although once more, Iker was on hand to push behind from close range.

Hibs defender Ryan Porteous went close with a downward header from Billy Gilmour’s corner before Stevie Mallan brought Iker back into action with a low free kick - forcing the keeper into a smart save.

Chelsea’s Gilmour was lively and put plenty of good deliveries in during the first half and a few minutes before the interval he found Hornby with a clever low ball - but the forward could only hit the keeper from extremely close range. The ball fell out to Mallan but the former Barnsley man’s low drive was deflected behind for a corner.

This time Gilmour’s delivery was on the money and referee Dejan Jakimovski pointed to the spot as Alex Martinez hauled down Porteous at the back post. The wide man went into the book as Hornby stepped up confidently and sent Iker the wrong way, dispatching the spot kick into the bottom left corner to give Scotland a much needed lift going into the break.

A storming first-half performance from Ireland was enough to secure them the Centenary Shield as they beat Scotland 3-1 at Home Park FC'S Whitehall Stadium.

A first-half blitz saw a double from Ali Regba sandwiched a terrific Liam Kerrigan strike to send Ireland in 3-0 in front at the break. It was a spirited and, at times, dominant second-half performance from Scotland, but they could only reply though a Nathan Fell header midway through the half.

Ireland came into the game knowing only a win would see them take the competition, whilst Scotland had previously kept two clean sheets out of their 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland and 2-0 victory in England.

However, their clean sheet record was up after just six minutes. Despite a positive start by Scotland, Ireland scored with their first chance as Jack Ryan played a lovely through ball for Regba to latch onto and slot past Fraser Currid.

Ronan Manning was really controlling the midfield after the opener, and any early flashes from Scotland were quickly put out, as the hosts dictated proceedings.

Kerrigan had already shown what he was capable of when his movement almost got on the end of another Ryan through ball, but it wasn't long before he truly made his mark.

Collecting the ball down the right hand side, there didn't look to be a lot on for the young striker. However, he cut onto his right foot and, after holding off pressure from Jack McDowall, he lashed home a superb left-footed effort into the top right-hand corner of Currid's net.

Cian Murphy, Daryl Walsh, and Mannigan all had chances to add to Ireland's tally, as Scotland struggled to defend crosses into their area.

The young Scots didn't heed the warnings though, and Ireland made it 3-0 before the half-hour mark when Ryan again fed Regba to slot home.

Scotland were often looking at Daniel Mackay to take the game to Ireland, but credit must go to Kieran Farren for how he marshalled the left-winger in the first 45.

It was by no means an ideal half for the Scots, who failed to create any real chances of note in the opening 45. For Ireland, it was the dream opening half.

Friday, 06 April 2018 20:24

Awesome Azzurri bag another win

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Oriam’s indoor pitch played host to a thrilling encounter between Italy and Scotland, but ultimately Italy were the happier of the two sides, as they continued their perfect start to the European Women’s U19 Championship Elite Round.

The Azzurri came into the game full of confidence on the back of their 7-1 humbling of Russia on Monday and so were favourites ahead of kick-off. Scotland, however, were looking to put their narrow defeat to Czech Republic behind them and it was the Scots who began brightly.

Straight from kick-off, the ball was manoeuvred out to the right wing and Scotland’s number 10 Shannon McGregor broke forward. After beating the Italian full back, McGregor delivered a dangerous cross, which keeper Nicole Lauria spilled at the feet of the on-rushing Samantha Kerr, who coolly slipped the ball into the bottom corner. The goal sparked jubilant celebrations among the Scots, with the large Tartan Army support on their feet only seconds in. 

After their poor start, Italy began to grow into the game and on the five minute mark they had an opportunity of their own. Italy’s Angelica Soffia picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box, and engineered space well, before forcing Scotland goalkeeper Eartha Cumings into a smart save, low to her right.  

This was a sign of things to come for Italy, who would go onto to dominate the remainder of the first half, despite not creating many clear-cut chances. The lack of chances was a result of resolute defending from the Scottish back four, who stifled Italy’s creative ability.

It took until the 27th minute for Italy to cause Scotland any major problems. Beatrice Merlo controlled the ball on the edge of the box and her powerful effort fizzed just past the post.

This was a warning for Scotland and, finally, just after the half hour mark, Italy’s dominance paid off. Scotland failed to deal with a good cross from the right wing and the loose ball fell to Agnese Bonfantini who controlled well and smashed her half-volley into the bottom right corner.

Italy’s pressure continued and five minutes before the break a mistake from Leah Eddie allowed Sofia Cantore in on goal, however her deflected effort was brilliantly stopped from Cumings who changed her direction of movement to tip the ball around the post.

Cumings’ excellent save was only delaying the inevitable and on the stroke of half-time, Italy were in front. Melanie Kuenrath cut inside from the right wing and fired a low shot past Cumings and into the bottom left corner, to give Italy a well deserved half-time lead.

 

Scotland's Under 18 schoolboys traveled to York City to face their English counterparts in the second matchday of the Centenary Shield. The Scots produced a magnificent display, with a goal in each half to record a 2-0 win over their English counterparts. The victory over England was Scotland's first since 2011, when the Scots were joint winners of the competition. And you'd need to go back to the year 2000 for Scotland's last win on English soil, when they triumphed 1-0 at Bradford City.
 
Danny Mackay gave Scotland the lead after missing a penalty in what was a tight first half of football which saw little in the way of chances. England were left with a mountain to climb after Cormac Pike was sent off for a poor challenge on Nathan Fell. And it was Fell who sealed the game for the Scots who scored a sumptuous shot into the far corner 
 
Both sides were locked on a single point ahead of kick-off, having played out 0-0 draws in their opening matches. Scotland's came in a home match against Northern Ireland, whereas reigning champions England had fared equally when they hosted Republic of Ireland. Thanks to their previous victory over Wales, Ireland led the table with 4 points. Joining them was the prize for the winner of Friday night's match.
 
England started the better of the two sides as they put the Scotland back line under lots of early pressure. The home side should have taken the lead when Adam McCrowther headed over the bar from a corner, but he couldn't find the target.
 
The game died down a bit after that with not a lot of chances but England having the bulk of the possession and Scotland doing well defensively, limiting them to very few shots.
 
Scotland then had a great chance to take the lead after Mackay was fouled by Ethan Brooks. The ref pointed to the spot and Mackay dusted himself down, but couldn't find a way past Callum Coulter from the subsequent penalty. 
 
However, Scotland and Mackay's disappointment didn't last long. Seconds later the opening goal came and Mackay was able to make up for his penalty miss. It was a wonderfully whipped in cross from McKeown and the Millburn Academy man was there to head it in at the back post.
 
England came very close to equalising just minutes after falling behind and it came after Cieran Jackson fizzed the ball at King Baidoo but his touch was too heavy and he eventually  it into the side netting.
 
The hosts were again extremely close to levelling as a wonderfully timed ball into the box from Sam McCallum was  inches away from the toe of Harvey Howell. It proved to be the final penalty box action of the half, as Scotland kept their lead intact.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 18:54

Clinical Ukraine ease past sorry Scots

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Injury time goals in either half consigned Scotland U21’s to their second defeat of the qualifying campaign. Andriy Boryachuk tapped in from close range at the end of the first half, and Viktor Kovalenko finished the game with a classy finish late on.Ross McCrorie and Dom Thomas came into the Scotland starting line-up, with Scott Wright dropping to the bench, and John Souttar missing out completely.

It was a bright start from the Scots, with Greg Taylor’s cutback being worked to Chris Cadden, who saw his effort blocked behind for a corner.
Both sides cancelled each other out in the opening stages.

Ukraine’s first sight at goal came from Olexander Zinchenko, but his pop-shot deflected harmlessly over. Scott McKenna picked up a yellow card for a foul on Artem Besedin after the half hour mark.

Ukraine took the lead right on half time, when a cross from the right took a wicked deflection off Alan Campbell, giving Andriy Boryachuk the simplest of tap-ins.

Friday, 10 November 2017 17:24

Hero Hardie spares sloppy Scotland's blushes

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An injury time penalty from Ryan Hardie spared Scotland’s blushed as they were held to a draw by 10-man Latvia at McDairmid Park. Roberts Uldrikis headed the visitors ahead in first half injury time, and they were reduced to 10-man when Ingars Stuglis cleaned out Chris Cadden midway through the first half. But Hardie showed nerves of steel to convert the late penalty that takes Scotland one point clear of the Netherlands in Group Four with a game in hand.
 
There were two changes to the Scotland side that won 2-0 against Latvia a month ago. Captain Oli Burke dropped out completely, and Dom Thomas was on the bench. Aberdeen’s Scott Wright and Barnsley’s Stevie Mallan came into the side, with John Souttar taking the armband.
 
Lewis Morgan’s effort brought a save out of Kristaps Zommers after two early corners were dealt with by the Latvian rear-guard. Oli McBurnie turned Morgan’s cutback into Scott Wright’s path, but the Aberdeen man mishit the shot, and Latvia cleared.
 
Morgan was the architect of the Scot’s next chance after 25 minutes, when he set up McBurnie with a clever back heel on the edge of the box, but Kriss Karklins got a foot to the striker’s shot before it could cause any problems for Zommers.
 
Floodlight failure meant a prolonged break in play, but Scotland continued pressing forward when the light returned. Stevie Mallan fizzed an effort wide from 25 yards. Liam Smith sent in a tantalising ball from the right, but an unmarked Wright hesitated, and the ball went out for a goal kick.
 
McBurnie did well to power his way into the box and bring a smart save out of Zommers. The resulting corner saw Scott McKenna enter the book for a foul on Ingars Stuglis. It was the second time that McKenna had headed the Latvian rather than the ball.
 
Despite offering little of an attacking threat, Latvia took the lead in the sixth minute of added on time, when Raivis Jurkovis headed against the crossbar, leaving the unmarked Roberts Uldrikis the simple task of heading into an empty net, despite the best efforts of Ryan Fulton.
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 12:53

Scotland stun Netherlands to open Euro campaign

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They only needed a moment, and in the second half it arrived. It came from another dangerous set piece. Swung into the box, it wasn’t cleared and then it broke, invitingly, to the captain and star of this Under 21s team. Oliver Burke didn’t need another invitatitation. Instead he smashed the ball high into the net from six yards out. It was the breakthrough the game needed and suddenly Scotland had lift off, a dream start to their Euro qualifying campaign, but in the unlikeliest of circumstances; a comprehensive and well deserved 2-0 win over the highly rated Netherlands.  
 
“It’s the perfect start”, Burke said afterwards. “The first goal was vital to winning the game. I’m obviously very happy to score it myself but I wouldn’t have done that without the hard work of the team.”
 
It’s true. The first goal was vital. Before it, Scotland and their opponents were locked in a stalemate, battling against each other in a game of few chances or opportunities. This may have been their first match of their qualifying campaign, but from the offset it was clear that Scotland were determined to win. 
 
In front of a decent crowd of 2,747 at the Paisley 2021 Stadium, Scotland set out to frustrate the Dutch. Off the ball Scotland were tight and compact, Burke and strike partner Dominic Thomas led from the front and behind them sat two resolute banks of four. 
 
For a while the Dutch couldn’t get out and resorted to playing the ball long, something that would have delighted Scotland coach Scot Gemmill. When the Dutch did get through, Scotland’s centre backs John Souttar and Scott McKenna were alert to the danger. Only once did the visitors seriously threatened and thankfully for Scotland Steven Bergwijn’s rising first time shot from inside the area smashed against the post. 
 
Scotland had just as many, if not more, opportunities. They looked especially dangerous from set pieces, with Stephen Mallan and Thomas providing excellent service from corners and free kicks. Souttar should have done much better from an inswinging Thomas corner early in the game, but, unmarked at the back post, he couldn’t keep his volley down.  
 
On Scotland’s left, St Mirren’s Lewis Morgan was looking comfortable playing at his home ground. He seemed to be Scotland’s biggest danger from open play, and created an opportunity for himself thanks to his pace and dribbling. After taking on his defender on the wing, Morgan turned back on to his left and was unlucky as his shot fired just wide of the far post.  
 
Scotland Under 16s rounded off a perfect week of international friendlies with a 2-0 win over Uruguay on Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh. 
 
The result means that Brian McLaughlin’s side finish their international tournament in 1st place, following victories over Qatar and England earlier in the week. 
 
It has been a hugely impressive and successful week for the young Scots, who have won all three of their games without conceding a single goal. 
 
“This week has been about the whole team”, said Scotland manager McLaughlin afterwards. “If you look at the way we play, we defend as a team and we go forward as a team.
 
“We spoke this week about wanting to play our game, our style, no matter what was happening, and 2-0 up with two minutes to go they were still doing that. The boys didn't want to let anyone down and they haven't. They've been absolutely incredible.”
 
Scotland’s success this week has been built on an determination to be in control, and to play the way they want to play. They have looked to dominate the ball and play out from the back whenever possible. Most of their best moments this week have followed a spell of positive, possession football. 
 
Again against Uruguay Scotland looked to do just that, with Jensen Weir sitting in front of the back four aiming to move the ball from side to side. Scotland had chances early on with Andrew Winter, Karamoko Dembele and Ben Cameron all going close.  
 
But there wasn’t a lot to split the teams going into half time. Uruguay had threatened themselves and it required a couple of vital, last ditch challenges from Jamie Hamilton as well as a save or two from goalkeeper Robbie Hemfrey. 

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. 

Scotland Under 16s kicked off their series of international friendlies with a comfortable 7-0 victory over Qatar in Edinburgh.

First half goals from Andrew Winter and Cole Starrs put the hosts in a commanding position going into the break.

The Scots continued to dominate in the second half, Starrs grabbed his second and Scotland’s third before substitute Karamoko Dembele scored one and set up three goals, two for Michael Sparkes and one for Jamie Hamilton.

Playing possession football and keeping the ball is one of Scotland manager Brian McLaughlin’s key objectives for this week, and his players looked to do just that straight from kick off.

In the middle of the park Reece McAlear and Jensen Weir gave Scotland a physical edge over their opponents, and quickly established the control needed to dictate the pace of the game.

After a patient start, Scotland found some space and struck. Left back Liam Miller’s burst into the middle of the pitch and through ball to Winter opened up Qatar’s defence. Winter controlled on his left before opening his body and passing the ball into the far corner.

Scotland’s second came from a similar position. Captain Connor Smith cut in from the left before playing splitting the Qatar defence with a reverse ball to Winter. The Hamilton forward got to the pass just ahead of Qatar keeper Yousef Abdullah Balideh, who crashed into Winter’s standing leg and brought him down.

Starrs stepped up to take the spot kick. His low shot to the left struck the post but fortunately rebounded straight back to his feet. After adjusting his body Starrs guided the ball high into the net.

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