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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.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 20:37

Scotland beat Switzerland to reach Euro 2017

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Scotland booked their place at the Euro 2017 finals in Croatia this summer with a battling win over Switzerland.

In a scrappy game with few clear cut chances, a Glenn Middleton penalty midway through the first half was enough to see the Scots over the line and qualify for the Euros for a fourth successive time.

With Scotland only needing a point to secure qualification, they were content to let Switzerland have the ball in their own half and applied pressure only when the Swiss crossed the halfway line.

As a result Switzerland dominated possession and sought to dictate the game, with their quick and skilful midfield knocking it around comfortably.

However it was fifteen minutes before they threatened, when attacking midfielder Alexis Antunes pickpocketed Daniel Church on halfway and broke forward. He worked the ball to Miraelm Amzi on the edge of the box and he flashed a shot just wide.

Amzi was at it again just a minute later but again could not find the target from a similar distance.

Switzerland then came extremely close to opening the scoring on 19 minutes. A ball over the top caused confusion between Josh Donaldson in the Scotland goal and his defence. The ball fell to Amzi who rounded Donaldson and hit a low shot on goal, but it was brilliantly blocked on the line by Robbie Deas.

It was a warning Scotland heeded as they looked to create some chances of their own. They did so when full-back Church was given the ball on 22 minutes out left and drove forward, beating two players before digging out a cross.

The ball was allowed to bounce by the Swiss defence and hit Elis Isufi on the arm, which Polish referee Krzysztof Jakubik deemed a penalty despite the defender’s protests.

It was perhaps a harsh decision, made worse for the Swiss when Norwich striker Middleton stepped up and dispatched the penalty emphatically to bag his fourth goal of the Elite Qualifying Round.

Switzerland almost got themselves level just before half-time but Ruben Del Campo headed over from close range after some good work from full-back Busset.

Scotland have one foot in the European Under-17 Championships following a 1-0 win over Serbia at St Mirren Park. Glenn Middleton’s goal midway through the first half was enough to give the home side the victory in a tight match with chances few and far between.

The game got off to a slow start, both sides struggling to get a good passing move together. Scotland’s front three of Middleton, Jack Aitchison, and Zak Rudden were playing too close together, all being dragged down the Serbian’s left. Rudden, who was playing wide right, was forced deep often to cover the runs of Dimitrije Kamenovic and Zeljko Gavric.

It took 17 minutes for either side to register an effort on goal, and it was Serbia’s Filip Stuparevic with a shot over the bar from outside the area. But just as Serbia looked to be making headway into the Scotland half, they were hit by a quick counter attack which proved to be devastating.

The pacey Middleton was involved in breaking away and winning a corner and when Elliot Watt sent it deep to the back post, Kerr McInroy had the time and presence of mind to bring it down and pick out Middleton on the edge of the box. A touch to open up his body and make the space and another to find the bottom corner past Milos Gordic. 1-0. It was his second goal in two matches following his effort against Montenegro on Friday.

Serbia almost caught Scotland cold from the restart, Stuparevic getting only the slightest of touches to Milutin Vidosavljevic’s cross and failing to find the net from a little over six-yards.

Having avoided the scare, Scotland managed to carve a couple of half chances themselves. McInroy blazed over after Rudden’s driving run had opened up Serbia’s defence, and Middleton forced a good save from Gordic after the Scot’s winger’s pace had put him through.

Crosses seemed to be Serbia’s most likely route to goal and they had their best opportunity of the match just before half-time when Gavric’s cross found Kamenovic, the full-back covering a large amount of ground to put himself in a position to equalise, but he somehow contrived to put it over the bar, the Scottish defence deserving credit for putting him off.

After losing their Centenary Shield opener to England, Scotland ran out emphatic winners at Newtown with a 5-1 victory over Wales. 

The home side kicked off in stormy conditions, however were immediately placed on the back foot by a Scotland side out to prove themselves after a disappointing result against current holders England.

Five different scorers found the net for the away side to cap off an impressive and much-needed victory. The side dominated both halves as they aim for an elusive Centenary Shield, having last won the competition outright in 2000.

As the wind and rain continued to fall in the opening stages of a frantic affair, Calvin McGrory was unfazed as he lobbed an excellent through ball into the path of Declan Glass. Glass, reaching the ball and gathering under control, then ventured on an excellent run as he twisted and turned past a worrying Wales defence. Glass eased past two defenders with clever feet and forced a good save from Jack Atkinson in the Wales net. The home side's number one however could only parry the ball to the feet of the well positioned Matthew Reilly, who did well to finish from a tight angle to provide the first goal of the game.

Less than five minutes later a quick free-kick at the back caught Wales out, with the ball finding the feet of Glass once again. The dangerous attacker turned sharply before running at the Wales defence, and on this occasion his efforts paid off as his 25-yard strike found the bottom corner. 

Five minutes later however the home side were right back in it, when Callum Saunders whipped in a dangerous free-kick from well outside the box. The number 8's left-footed strike somehow evaded both sets of players and rolled into the bottom corner past a helpless Ross Connelly in the Scotland net. Wales now found themselves on the front foot as they pushed for an equaliser, which almost arrived through Keane Watts, whose header went narrowly wide after excellent build up play in the Welsh midfield.

Just before the half hour mark however the Scots dented any hopes of a Welsh comeback as Captain Kyle Banner's effort squeezed under Atkinson and into the back of the net. The away side bagged their fourth just minutes later when the impressive Euan O'Reilly once again proved his ability with a dangerous attack down the right. The winger's fantastic composure and low cross found the feet of Adam Brown, who controlled with ease and turned expertly before firing into the gaping goal.

Saturday, 18 March 2017 00:47

Six goal Scots off to flyer against Montenegro

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Scotland made an ideal start to this year’s UEFA Elite group, as they saw off Montenegro in swashbuckling style at St Mirren Park. How refreshing it was to see a Scotland side playing attractive passing football, and scoring some sensational goals into the bargain.
 
Scott Gemmill’s side had defeated reigning under-17 champions Portugal in September to qualify for the elite round and be seeded to host Montenegro, Switzerland and Serbia. Based on recent form the young Scots are ranked 6th in Europe at this level, and in Paisley they lived up to their billing in emphatic style.
 
Ahead of the matches, head coach Scot Gemmill had stressed the importance of the forthcoming games and said: “This is definitely the most important week of the season for the players as they have worked very hard to get themselves into this position.
 
“A lot of countries don’t manage to get to this stage and it’s important the players realise how important it is.
 
“Playing at home will be a boost for us. The last time we played an Elite Round in Scotland we qualified so it’s worked in the past.
 
“This is a great group of players who are playing at a high level at their clubs and they’ve shown they can compete against the best on an international stage so it’s up to us to keep up those high levels of performance.”
 
After surviving an early scare when their opponents struck the bar, the Scots were 3 up and cruising by half time, their first goal a thunderbolt from Jack Aitchison from the edge of the D on 10 minutes. They never really looked back, with the Celtic striker helping himself to another goal, and Glenn Middleton chipping in with his own second half brace. The two had given the Montenegro defence a torrid night of it, with no answer to their deadly pace and finishing in the final third.
 
Montenegro were not coping with the threat from early in the first half and it set the platform for wave after wave of Scots attacks. The second goal arrived on 17 minutes as Church got down the left to pick out Zak Rudden in the box to head home from close range.
 
But there wasn’t much visiting defenders could do about goal number three. After some intricate build up play Seb Ross laid the ball off for Kerr McInroy on the edge of the box and his left foot drive found Vukic’s corner with just half an hour played.
Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:27

Second half Accies blitz floors Pars

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6th place Hamilton Accies hosted 7th place Dunfermline at the Superseal Stadium in a tight mid-table battle, which eventually saw the hosts convincingly take all three points in the second half after a quiet first half. 
 
Hamilton got an early corner which was played to the edge of the box, Ross Cunningham hit it on the half volley but the effort was blocked before the Dunfermline number 1 – Cammy Gill - was forced into a save.
 
Dunfermline’s Lochead picked up the ball on the the edge of the box and cut inside but the shot was dealt with easily by the Hamilton shot stopper, Robbie Thomson.
 
One of Accies better chances came midway through the first half. Marc Kelly dribbled in and out of Dunfermline defenders and hit the ball towards the bottom corner, but the keeper pulled off a terrific save to keep the scores level.
 
The teams went in level at half time. It was a close first half with the ball being contested in the midfield but there were no real chances created for either side to take the lead.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 20:00

Wales comeback holds Scotland in entertaining tie

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Scotland threw away a two goal lead in the second half to draw against Wales in the Victory Shield. 
 
Two goals from Jamie Semple before half time, the first a header and the second a well struck half volley, had put Scotland in a commanding position going into the break.
 
But Wales, who rarely in threatened in the first half, responded well and had pulled a goal back within minutes of the restart thanks to a Isaak Davies tap in.
 
Scotland introduced 13 year old Karamoko Dembele midway through the second half but by then Wales were in control and they eventually equalised with ten minutes to go with a spectacular volley from Keenan Patten.
 
The hosts, who made five changes from the side that beat Northern Ireland 2-0 on Sunday, were the brighter team early in the game.
 
Kieran McGrath lead the line well on his own and the striker had the first opportunity of the game, heading over from six yards after Kane O'Connor had done well to nod the ball across goal. McGrath then tried his luck from range as he fired a shot from 25 yards over the bar.
 
Wales were unable to keep the ball and Scotland had them pinned back in their own half. Scotland were also looking dangerous from corners and Billy Gilmour's delivery was excellent all afternoon. 
 
They eventually  took a deserved lead after 26 minutes. Scotland did well to work the ball from left to right, Harry Cochrane switched the play and found Gilmour, who fed the ball into Chris Hamilton on the edge of the box. His first time ball round the corner found winger Zac Butterworth, who reached the ball on the byline before clipping a cross towards the back post. Rising highest in the area was Semple and his downward header took a deflection before looping up and over Wales goalkeeper Dan Burden and into the net. 
 
Gilmour went close to doubling his side's lead soon after. Wales failed to deal with a corner and as the ball dropped in the area, Gilmour ran in from the left and unleashed a fierce shot which smashed against the near post. 
 
But on the 30 minute mark, Scotland did find the target. Kane O'Connor was the creator. After striding forward, the centre half looked up and spotted Semple's run behind the Welsh right back. He then played a floating, diagonal ball that dropped just over the defender's head and into Semple's path. The striker took the ball on his chest and waited for the ball to sit up, before volleying a left footed shot into the far corner.
 
 
Republic of Ireland got their Victory Shield tournament underway on Sunday Evening with a four goals to nil win against two year running champions, Wales. It was a one sided affair with Ireland scoring three goals in the first half and a forth in the second while Wales were unable to find the back of the net despite their best efforts.
 
Ireland kicked off the match and their scoring in the second minute of the match. A free kick 15 yards out on the right side of goal taken by Max Murphy saw the ball arrive at the head of Nathan Collins at the left side of the goal. Collins then headed the ball across goal to Adam Idah who headed the effort into the net past Welsh keeper, Dan Barden to put his team ahead.
 
The Welsh had a good counter attacking effort a minute later to try get themselves back into the game. A break from Jack Vale on the left side of the pitch saw the player shimmy past defenders to get himself central with the opposition’s goal, he then fired the ball but it went wide of the right side post.
 
Ireland then had a great opportunity to double their lead in the 13th minute. A shot from Idah on the left side struck the goal post and Barry Coffey was at the opposite post to tap the ball into an empty net, however, the player’s shot went wide.
 
The Irish players then had a great effort on goal from a free kick in the 31st minute. Idah laid off the central free kick to Kameron Ledwidge on the left side who then turned to strike the ball towards the bottom right corner, forcing Barden to make the save to put the ball out for a corner. Ireland then doubled their lead from the resulting corner. Ledwidge stepped up at the corner flag to send a ball into Collins at the far post who headed the effort into the right side of goal.
 
Things then went from bad to worse for Wales as Ireland got their third goal of the evening before going in for half time. Ireland forward, Tyreik Wright sent a ball into the box from the left side of the pitch which was met by the headed effort of Idah. His shot was saved by Barden, however, the Welsh keeper could not collect the ball as Idah struck the ball on the rebound adding to his team’s scoring in the 39th minute. 
 
 
Scotland opened their 2016 Victory Shield campaign with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland thanks to goals either side of half time from Taylor Wilson and Zac Butterworth 
 
The hosts were in control for most of the game and took the lead in the 19th minute thanks to defender Wilson's finish from a deep cross.  
 
They didn't extend their lead until the 74th minute however, and substitute Butterworth's strike offered some Scotland some breathing space after they had largely spent the final quarter of the match on the back foot. 
 
This was an impressive performance from the Scots and their play was often dictated by their centre midfield pairing of Billy Gilmour and Harry Cochrane. The duo passed the ball quickly and were aggressive both on the ball and in the tackle.
 
They were the architects of most of their side's chances in the first half and it was Scotland that had the first chance of the game. 
 
After a sustained period of possession, Gilmour fed the ball into the feet of Anthony McDonald, who turned and accelerated forwards before releasing Jamie Semple on the left. 
 
Semple took a touch before cutting onto his right foot and firing a strong shot that was well saved by keeper Tiernan Parker. 
 
Northern Ireland were looking dangerous on the break and won a free kick in a promising position after springing forward from a defensive clearance. Jordon McEneff's delivery from the left was excellent and Scotland striker Marc Leonard was perhaps fortunate that his flicked header flashed wide of the post, rather than ending up in his own net. 
 
Next, Northern Ireland striker Conner Farrelly got on the end of a ball over the top. He collected the pass and paused, before slipping in Ben Wilson. Fortunately for Scotland, Luis Binks was on hand to slide in and block his shot. 
 
Scotland, though, were looking the more assertive side and in the 19th minute they took the lead. From a corner, holding midfielder Dean Campbell received the ball in a deep position. Spotting the run of Wilson, Campbell then looked up and played a floating, diagonal ball over the top. The ball dropped on the six yard box and it was met by Wilson who slid in to open the scoring.
 
Gilmour and Cochrane were bossing the midfield and were making life difficult for their counterparts. After winning the ball back again in the middle of the pitch, Gilmour then played a reverse ball to find Anthony McDonald, who was breaking forward at pace. McDonald's shot was low and Parker did well to get down to keep his side in the game.
 
With half-time approaching, Scotland had another chance to double their lead. Captain Chris Hamilton, who threatened from right back throughout the first half, skipped past his man and got to the byline before clipping a cross into the box. The cross found Gilmour but his downward header was blocked on the line. 
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