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Scotland produced an excellent display to defeat Sweden 2-0 in an International Challenge Match in Edinburgh. Outplayed at times in the first half by a strong Sweden side, Scotland emerged from the break and outran, outworked and outfought their opponents.
It was two goals in the space of as many minutes that won the match, with Hibernian's Oli Shaw and Celtic's Mark Hill scoring the vital goals just after half time. After that, Scotland defended resolutely and protected their lead with the stubbornness, professionalism and intelligence of a side beyond their years.
Sweden had the first chance of the game. The ball fell to the lively and impressive Jesper Karlsson on the edge of the box but his powerful snapshot was fired straight at Scotland goalkeeper Ross Doohan.
Karlsson's strike partner Isac Lidberg was next to try his luck. A loose pass by a Scotland player inadvertently played in Karlsson who carried the ball to the edge of the box before dragging his shot wide of the left post.
Sweden's goalkeeper was tested for the first time a few minutes later. A Scotland corner from the left was cleared but only as far as right back Anthony Ralston, who had cleverly positioned himself on the edge of the box. Ralston caught the clearance full on the volley and did well to get his effort on target although in truth it barely troubled Sweden's John Hakansson.
The pressure on Sweden's goal was building and Scotland should have taken the lead in the 15th minute. The ball was given away in the middle of the pitch by a Sweden midfielder and was seized upon by Regan Hendry. The midfielder drove forward at the Swedish defenders. Sensing an overlapping run on his left, Hendry released the ball at the perfect moment, right into the path on the onrushing Calvin Miller who burst into the box before firing a left footed shot across goal. The shot was well saved.
After such a frenetic start, the game fell into a bit of a lull. Both sides were keeping the ball well. Scotland were looking assured in possession and were constantly looking to release striker Paul Joseph Crossan with an early ball over the top. Crossan was tireless in his running but it was mostly in vain.
Sweden on the other hand looked to stretch play horizontally when they had the ball. Their 3-5-2 formation allowed them to dominate possession. Scotland worked hard to win the ball back, but there was too much space and the Swede's looked comfortable on the ball.
Using their possession as a platform to get back into the game, Sweden launched a siege on the Scotland goal in the last five minutes of the half. Corner after corner was swung into the box only to be scrambled clear by the Scotland defenders. On one occasion a corner fell to the feet of Sweden captain Thomas Popper Isherwood. With his back to goal, the Bayern Munich defender swung at the ball with his heel but his audacious effort only fell into the grateful grasp of Doohan. 
Ricky Sbragia’s side saw their slim hopes of making it to the European Championship in Poland reach virtually impossible on Friday night, as Macedonia edged out 1-0 winners on a dramatic night at Tynecastle. With red cards, disallowed goals and interesting decisions the order of the day. Despite a wave of attacks and a late onslaught on the Macedonian goal, Kire Markoski’s first half strike was enough to give the visitors three points to add to their qualifying campaign.
Scotland started the game on the front foot, and Ryan Fraser, who is now enjoying a spell in the starting XI at Bournemouth, wasn’t wasting any time in trying to get his name on the scoresheet, as his second minute daisy-cutter drifted just wide of goalkeeper Aleksovski’s near post.
Stephen Kingsley went close just three minutes later. After picking up the ball from around 30 yards out, he assessed his options, and attempted to catch out the Macedonian number one with a fierce effort on his left foot, but Alexsovski was equal to it, clawing it away from the top left corner spectacularly and leaving the Scots with a corner, which nothing came of.
Scotland were applying a lot of pressure early on, but to the visitor’s credit, they stood strong and were able to withstand anything thrown their way, despite seeing very little of the ball in the early proceedings of the contest. They nearly ended up scoring with their first opening, as Marjan Radeski was played through and looked to have just Liam Kelly in goals to beat, but he must have struggled to spot the rampaging John Souttar, who threw himself into, and won, a crucial tackle to prevent a great opportunity for Macedonia. A huge risk if it didn’t come off, but the Hearts defender got it spot-on.
It didn’t put off the Macedonians just five minutes later though, if anything, it offered encouragement. Radeski was once again in the middle of things, as his pass was not dealt with by the Scots defence, and Markoski struck in a low shot from inside the box and silencing the 4,500 plus crowd in Edinburgh. The home side seemed affected by that strike, and Radeski nearly doubled his side’s lead a few minutes later, if it wasn’t for another great Souttar intervention.
Scotland’s performance in the period after that goal seemed to mirror Macedonia’s before it; rushed, and unable to keep a hold of the ball. But the Scots finished the half in good form, with Cummings and Slater both being denied on several occasions from Alekovski who was keeping his side in the match at this stage, with Ryan Christie and Ryan Gauld both instrumental in carving open those chances. Despite this, Macedonia went into the break with the lead.
Saturday, 27 February 2016 09:41

Scotland and Northern Ireland can't be split

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The opening exchanges were dominated by Scotland, but the first real chance of the game fell to Northern Ireland. A fantastic through ball from Ronan Young found Adam McCracken’s run from left back, and he was able to square to Nathaniel Ferris, but the big striker fluffed his lines.
The away side continued to press with a good chance moments later. Captain Ronan Wilson went by his man easily and crossed to the back stick, where his ball found the head of Lloyd Anderson. The midfielder’s header crashed off the post before being cleared.
Another chance beckoned when Scotland failed to clear a free-kick. The ball dropped to Jonathon McCaw, who chested it down and then unleashed a powerful volley, but Scotland keeper Andrew Wilson was able to hold.
Ferris’ then got another chance after the ball was played through wide on the left, but his shot went just over the bar, ending a reasonably scrappy first half.
Sunday, 15 November 2015 07:55

Scotland claim point against Ukraine

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Ukraine claimed a share of the spoils in a match that ended in controversial circumstances, with Dominic Hyam sent off for denying Denys Bezborodko the opportunity to win the game for the away side in injury time.
Dymtro Khlobas had put Ukraine in front before Jason Cummings and Callum Paterson had put a resurgent Scotland in the lead at the break. Oleksandr Svatok’s late equaliser was almost turned into three points had it not been for Hyam’s intervention.
With the remains of storm Abigail pouring down on St Mirren Park, the sides took to the pitch in less than ideal conditions. There were touching scenes as the Ukranian anthem was interrupted so Svatok could grab a jacket for the young mascot shivering in just a t-shirt.
The away side acclimatised quickly, Oleh Danchenko forcing Jack Hamilton into a good initial save that was bettered by his fantastic low block to deny Viktor Kovalenko on the rebound and somehow knock it wide for a corner, which came to nothing.
Scotland were riding their luck in the early stages but having withstood the early pressure they began to grow into the game. Billy King curled an effort wide when he had time and space in the box, then Bogdan Sarnavskyi made fantastic close range saves in quick succession to deny Jason Cummings and King. With Ukraine failing to clear their lines, Callum Paterson’s cross found Cummings unmarked at the back post and yet again the goalkeeper made a fantastic point blank save to prevent the opener when it looked easier for the Hibs striker to find the net.
He came agonisingly close yet again when he narrowly failed to get on the end of Paterson’s low cross while fully stretched in front of goal.
Having spurned chance after chance, Scotland were hit with a sucker punch following a defensive slip up. Vladlen Yurchenko picked up the loose ball, slipped it to Dmytro Khlobas who turned the defence inside out before powering his drive on the wet surface just under the despairing grasp of Hamilton.
The home side didn't let their heads drop however and having knocked on the door all game, Cummings finally found his way in. John McGinn’s freekick from just inside the Ukraine half was met with Cummings' looping header that dropped just under the bar to give Scotland the quick leveller.
The game was opening up now and Ukraine almost took back their lead. Kovalenko’s effort got the slightest touch off a Scotland defender, enough to put it on top of the net rather than in the top corner. Then from the resulting corner, Oleh Danchenko, at the second time of asking got his cross in and it was met by Ihor Zhurakhovskyi who glanced it just wide.
There still was a goal in this half however and it fell to Scotland. Cummings turned provider, hitting the byline and getting in a perfect low cross that was met by Paterson’s darting run to the near post and he stabbed it high into the net to give Scotland the lead at the break. A great turnaround for Ricky Sbragia’s men after a slow start.
In their Championship Qualifier, Scotland and Iceland faced off at Pittodrie Stadium, the home of Aberdeen Football Club. Though the game ended in a 0-0 draw, there were plenty of chances for both teams to keep the crowd entertained.
Scotland held the early possession but struggled to penetrate a strong Iceland defence. However Ryan Christie was able to put the ball through for Sam Nicholson but he was ruled offside before he could take a shot at goal. 
However Scotland continued to press forward and Christie put another great ball through but this time Iceland goalkeeper, Frederik Schram, was able to clear before Nicholson or Jason Cummings could run onto it.
Iceland were then awarded a free kick ten yards into the Scotland half. Oliver Sigurjónsson sent the ball into the box but Scotland’s defence were able to clear before Aron Elís Þrándarson could get there.
Stephen Kingsley drove the ball up the wing for Scotland and sent it forward for Nicholson to run onto but Orri Sigurður Ómarsson put in a great clearance kick before he could take his chance.
Scotland kept the pressure on though, and Billy King crossed the ball into the box where Iceland’s Hjӧrtur Hermannsson cleared. However it came to Scotland’s Jason Cummings who shot from thirty yards but Schram caught to deny the scoring chance.
The visitors had a chance from a corner, taken by Sigurjónsson. He went for a short kick, passing to Árni Vilhjálmsson to set up some interchanging play before Sigurjónsson shot over the crossbar.
Iceland could not build much on this attack as Scotland pressed forward again and again. Cummings, Nicholson and Christie linked up well to gain territory, with Nicholson shooting from 25 yards only to be denied by Schram once more.
Following a fantastic run by Christie, Scotland were awarded a corner taken by Nicholson. His cross into the box was only kept out by a spectacular one-handed save by Schram.
The ball was then booted to the other end of the pitch and Iceland pressed forward. Ómarsson and Vilhjálmsson linked up before passing to Sigurjónsson, who put the ball into the box for Þrándarson but Scotland held their defence well to deny him the chance to take a shot at goal.
The visitors continued to press into Scotland’s half and were awarded a free kick just outside the box. Sigurjónsson and Bӧðvar Bӧðvarsson both looked as though they were going to take the kick. Bӧðvarsson feigned and Sigurjónsson saw his shot wide of the goal.
Following a break down the wing by Billy King which Bӧðvarsson swept in to clear, Scotland Captain, John McGinn, made a powerful shot from thirty-five yards which Schram had some difficulty in controlling to keep out.
Iceland were then awarded another free kick at twenty-five yards. Sigurjónsson made a short pass to Bӧðvarsson whose shot went wide of the goal.
King and Cummings set up some interchanging play to drive into the box before Cummings shot but was denied by Schram. McGinn then shot once more, this time from 25 yards but Schram was keeping his gloves warm and Scotland frustrated.
Hӧskuldur Gunnlaugsson put in a great cross-field kick for the visitors which Þrándarson ran onto before sending into the box. From there, Elías Már Ómarsson shot but Scotland goalkeeper, Jack Hamilton, deflected it before clearing.
Scotland created one last chance with Christie and King linking up to beat several defenders but King booted into the stands to bring the half to an end.
Sunday, 11 October 2015 15:51

Victory for France in Euro qualifier at Pittodrie

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Scotland U21s were beaten 2-1 by a well-drilled French side in their 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying match in front of a 3,025 crowd at Aberdeen’s Pittodrie Stadium.
An own goal and a great solo effort from Corentin Tolisso secured all three points for the French, with Billy King scoring an injury time consolation goal for the Scots, in a match where Ryan Gauld was sent off for the hosts.
This was both sides' second qualifying match, with Scotland winning 2-1 in Northern Ireland and France being defeated 3-2 in Iceland last month.
Scotland started the brighter and Jason Cummings’ ball in to the box from the left was saved low by Mouez Hassen in the opposition goal.
France took the lead as substitute Thomas Lemar’s low cross from the left was cleared by Stephen Kingsley only to deflect off Kilmarnock’s Stuart Findlay and into the net, to give the away side the lead. Lemar was only on the park for three minutes having replaced the injured Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Scotland looked to respond and a volley from the edge of the box by Sporting Lisbon's Gauld hit the crossbar as Scotland searched for the equaliser.
The away side were dealt a blow in the 23rd minute as winger Kingsley Coman, who has scored two goals in four Bundesliga appearances for Bayern Munich this season, was injured. The on-loan Juventus man was replaced by Marcus Coco.
France looked to double their lead as Lemar’s low shot from inside the box went wide of the target.
Scotland had a chance to equalise as Ryan Christie’s free kick from the left was knocked on by Jordan McGhee, with Cummings getting a final touch, only for it to be saved by Hassen in the France goal.
Scotland had the last chance of the half as Gauld’s half volley was well saved down low by Hassen.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015 11:33

Brave Scotland hit by Swiss counter

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Scotland head coach Brian McLaughlin cited in his post match interview the importance of the team challenging themselves against strong opposition and Switzerland certainly proved to fit the criteria in this Vauxhall Under 15 International Challenge Match at Forthbank Stadium. Scotland maintained a strong possession-focused performance throughout but were undone in the second half by a Guillaume Furrer brace. The first was a dipping 51st minute free-kick from the Servette FC player and the second five minutes later, a composed finish inside the penalty area. 
Switzerland signalled their intent early with a bright start and won a free-kick in the 5th minute. Ricardo Azevedo curled in an excellent delivery from the right but teammate Felipe Miguel Freitas Borges could not adjust his footing and knocked the ball past the post from close range. 
It did not take long for Scotland to assert themselves, however, as the imposing Dean Campbell threaded his club teammate Tyler Chicken through on goal but the wide player could not arrow his effort away from the oncoming goalkeeper who gathered confidently. 
Positive combination play in the 9th minute saw Scotland captain Billy Gilmour win a free-kick in an enticing position on the edge of the box. Gilmour brushed himself down to bend the ball up and over but Swiss goalkeeper Andre Pinheiro produced a fantastic stop to turn it over the bar. This was to be the start of a sustained period of pressure from the Scots and an indication from Pinheiro that he was ready for whatever they had to throw at him. 
A high tempo ensued from the home side as they sought to get their wide players to the byline whenever possible. Successive teasing balls were sent across the face of the goal but the Switzerland defence proved equal on more than one occasion. 
Gilmour quickly found his footing, showing some neat footwork in the middle of the park, and was teed up by Kieran McKechnie in the 26th minute. Gilmour’s effort was struck with venom and accuracy but as it headed towards the top left corner Pinheiro leaped across to acrobatically divert the shot over the bar. Minutes later, Harry Cochrane adjusted his feet with expertise to fend off defenders on the edge of the Switzerland area before firing a shot which was just too close to the goalkeeper.  
Gilmour, McKechnie and Campbell were just three of a list of impressive Scotland performances but Switzerland held their defensive shape well, looking for the opportunity to counter through Borges and Felix Khonde Mambimbi. 
The last clear cut chance of the half would arrive as a result of a lofted ball into the box in the 36th minute. Kieran McGrath rose highest to nod his effort inches over the bar. 
It was the Scotland Girls 16s who ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 score-line against Finland in the Vauxhall International Challenge match at Ainslie Park. Led by Shannon-Leigh Nayle, Scotland were up for the fight but two great goals from Nea Snygg and Nely Lehtilä left them with work to do. The Tartan Army pulled one back through Megan Robb, but it was too late for the Blues to go for the draw.
Finland started brightly and their first real chance came after five minutes with Eerika Hämäläinen heading wide of the right post after an in-swinging corner from Emelie Smirnoff.
Scotland reacted well to Finland’s start and two minutes later Abby Callaghan had a chance. Her shot to the near post from the right was well saved by the Finland number one.
The away side’s possession-based style of play was benefiting them as they upped the pressure. A free-kick from 30 yards was struck over the bar by Smirnoff and not long after Roosa Tuominen shot narrowly wide of the right post from 18 yards just past the 20-minute mark.
The home team were playing well defensively as they managed to restrict the away side to long ranged shots and Milla Partanen was the next to have a go with her effort flying past the right post from 20 yards.
Defence was on top for both Scotland and Finland with chances few and far between. Half time saw the teams deadlocked and it was going to take a special moment to unlock either back-line.

Scotland followed up their win against Ukraine with a 4-2 success against Albania which temporarily put them in first place of qualification Group 11 for the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship in Slovakia.

With Austria not playing until later that day, Scotland had the chance to pile on the pressure on their rivals. Lia Tweedie, Kirsty Howat, Kirsty Hanson and Carla Boyce were the scorers as Scotland ran out clear winners.

Having started well in the first match against Ukraine, Scotland continued much in the same way and it took them only nine minutes to open the scoring as last game’s impact sub Lia Tweedie converted a Sarah Clelland assist.

It was Tweedie who was to play a part in Scotland’s second goal, too, as she laid on Kirsty Howat’s strike in the 20th minute.

Albania were quick to reply, though, and Franja eventually scored for them after Flaherty had just saved a shot from Behluli.

Just four minutes before half time, Scotland were clearly not ready to rest on their laurels as Hanson made it 3-1 from a Erin Cuthbert assist.

The half ended in cruel fashion for Scotland as Gjegji pulled one back in the third minute of added time.

Thursday, 17 September 2015 13:12

Scotland Women's U19s upend Ukraine

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Scotland made an impressive start to their qualifying campaign for the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship in Slovakia as they won 3-2 against Ukraine.

Goals from Abigail Harrison, Erin Cuthbert and Lia Tweedie ensured Scotland went into second place in Group 11 behind leaders Austria, who defeated Albania 8-1 later that day.

After their 3-0 victory against the same opposition earlier this year, Scotland were keen to emulate such a good performance. And they duly did, dominating proceedings and peppering the Ukrainian goal so that the result flattered the visitors in the end.

The Ukrainians were anxious to make the game hard for Scotland, disrupting their flow with fouls at the beginning of the match. After 17 minutes, though, Rachel McLauchlan’s blocked shot resulted in a corner. Midfielder Erin Cuthbert put in a great ball and Scotland were ahead, with captain Abigail Harrison scoring.

Scotland lost possession from a Cuthbert free kick in the 40th minute, and Ukraine duly seized their opportunity to counter as Khuda fed in Lymar to score the equaliser. Defiantly, Scotland tried to react, and put Ukraine under huge pressure, producing an onslaught that was eventually stopped by Ukrainian keeper Viktoriia Kyslova and the half time whistle.

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