The opening preparatory game for the Scottish Schools’ FA U15 team for this season was played at the indoor arena at Toryglen in Glasgow on Friday 18 January.
The opponents in our annual challenge match were Glasgow City and the expectant crowd were looking forward to seeing both squads as it was the first games as new squads.
The game started with both teams sounding out each other but the nerves in both camps soon disappeared as the game started to develop.
The Scotland back four was made up of Tegan Browning, Rosie Slater, Abbie Cusack and Niamh Noble looked from the offset both solid and composed in front of Gail Gilmour in the Scottish goal.
Indeed, it was a well-developed move from the back that produced a great chance at the other end. Gail played the ball quickly to Rosie who in turn transferred it to Addie Handley on the right-hand side. Addie attacked her opposite number and cleverly played in Aimee Anderson in the inside right position.
Aimee produced a wonderful turn and bared down on goal, however on this occasion the City keeper came out bravely at the feet of the onrushing striker and made a great block.
Aimee was combining with her strike partner, Olivia Potter as both began to knock on the door of the City defence.
Maria McAneny then got in on the act with pinpoint passing that encouraged the strikers to positively drive forward into the oppositions box.
Kirsty Maclean started to pull the strings from the engine room of the central midfield. Her passing encouraged Addie to get forward and deliver trademark telling crosses into dangerous areas.
Both Tegan and Niamh kept the ‘high press’, and it was from one of Niamh’s well-timed challenges that produced the first goal of the encounter.
Niamh picked her head up after winning the initial challenge and played the ball to Hannah Robinson at the edge of the opposition box. There was still a lot to do but Hannah looked up and took aim.
As soon as it left her foot there was only going to be one outcome. Her powerful shot flew into the net chalking up the first goal of the new International campaign.
The game settled down and both Hannah and Kirsty continued to tease and torment the City midfield players.
The wide players of Maria and Addie encouraged by Tegan and Niamh pushed the young Scots forward and it was not too long before the Scots got the second goal that their play had deserved.
Kirsty on this occasion found herself in the opposition’s penalty box. She twisted and turned and danced her way along the bye line. Her cut back found Olivia Potter who placed the ball behind the unfortunate keeper who until then had kept the Scots at bay.
The first period finished with Scotland on top and two goals to the good.
The Scots made changes at the start of the second period with Olivia King and Kiera Chuter replacing the wide midfield duo of Maria and Addie.
Rosie and Tegan swapped roles as the period starting at the same tempo as the first had concluded.
The Scots were without four of the full squad for this game with Jess Broadrick, Deon Cruickshank, Eilidh Adams and Elvie McLean all unavailable to play, however this only emphasised the need for eighteen players and the flexibility and versatility that will be needed throughout the preparation games and the Bob Docherty tournament in Salou, Spain.
Olivia King and Kiera continued where both Maria and Addie had left off in the first period.
In fact, it was a direct and positive run from Kiera that had the crowd on the edge of their seats, which led to the very next opportunity for Scotland to add to their tally.
However, on this occasion Aimee hit the outside of the post after a fantastic passage of play that involved defenders, midfield and strikers.
Hannah went very close again moments later when she picked up a loose ball and fired it just over the bar.
Katie Andrews had now taken over in the Scots goal for her first start at this level. It was great to see her settle very quickly into the game.
The relentless attacking play of the young Scots indicated that it would only be a matter of time before a third goal arrived.
Niamh attacked the City defender and with a lovely turn and fake she pulled the ball back from the bye line for Aimee to score with her ‘six pack’.
It was a goal that the young striker deserved for her constant positive play in front of goal.
Kiera was the next to attack the City defence. It was a joy to see a young player play with no fear running at players with her natural pace coupled with the ability to play off both feet and strike the football so fiercely again off both sides.
Indeed, the fourth goal came from just this situation where Niamh who had received an early pass from Abbie picked out Maria who had come into the middle of the park for Hannah.
Maria played a lovely ball to Kiera who quickly moved the ball out of her feet to blast the ball into the bottom corner, giving the keeper no chance at all.
Addie and Maria now took charge of the middle of the park with the later shooting on site and she was very unlucky not to find a teammate at the end of a wonderful free kick to the back post.
The Scots kept the play in the City half until the referee called a halt to the second period with Scotland four goals to the good.
Scotland went into the final period with a little tweak in formation with Addie playing at right full back and Olivia King playing outside her.
Tegan moved into a holding central midfield role. Kiera played on her own through the middle, but her work rate and enthusiasm gave the Glasgow City defence no respite at all.
The centre back partnership of Rosie and Abbie made sure that any attacks were dealt with and it was obvious that Katie and her defenders were determined to keep a clean sheet.
The passing and movement between Olivia King and Addie on the right was balanced with Niamh and Kiera on the other side was great to see and it was from a well worked interchange down the right that gave Hannah a chance at the edge of the box again.
Without hesitation she took aim and powerfully found the net.
Kirsty now in the sitting role continued to pull the strings and kept possession of the ball as the game was playing out in the City final third.
However, there was still time for one last final goal.
Maria again found time and space on the right-hand side and with a fine piece of individual skill she shot at the City goal.
The keeper could not hold on to the powerful drive and it spilled from her grasp. It was Olivia Potter who pounced and shot the ball high into the net.
It had been a very good run out for both sides with some excellent goals coupled with a solid defensive performance.
There will be tougher games ahead for the young Scots when the full International matches in the Bob Docherty Tournament comes along in April, but it was a confident start by the Scottish Schools’ squad.
Final Result: Scotland 6 Glasgow City 0