Scotland 1 England 3

Two late goals by England ensured all three points headed south in our third hummel Centenary Shield game last night at Broadwood.

Both teams came into this fixture in the knowledge that a victory was vital to their chances of success in this season’s Centenary Shield competition. The hosts simply had to win after two draws in their first two games. England were keen to follow up on their previous victory in the Emerald Isle and maintain their impressive away record.

As such, it was no surprise that the game started at a high tempo: Luke Salter broke into the Scottish penalty area in the first minute but a strong challenge from Andrew Miller halted his advances; the Scots hit back as Callum Hannah found Aaron Nicholson in the area but the forward shot over the crossbar and England then took the lead after only four minutes. Good interplay between Oscar Fletcher and Salter allowed the latter to play in Sam Johnson and the forward was able to prod the ball beyond Corey Armour in the Scotland goal.

England open the scoring

Faced with a similar predicament to the previous match in Belfast, Scotland again responded well. Two dangerous deliveries by Ricky Waugh from a corner then a free-kick caused consternation in the English penalty box. Ruaridh Cant shot narrowly wide from the second opportunity. Cant was involved again in the 9th minute, seeing his shot blocked after an enterprising Nicholson run down the left. The ball eventually deflected towards Nathan Cannon who saw his improvised header clear the crossbar with English goalkeeper Jasper Sheik scrambling.

The healthy home crowd hoped that this was a sign that an equaliser was imminent – they weren’t disappointed. Two minutes later a long pass from Miller found Cannon galloping free in the inside-left channel. He steadied himself before curling a fine right footed effort into the far corner to level the score.

Scotland celebrate their equaliser

Both sides seemed then to pause for breath with much of the game contested in the middle of the park, punctuated by the odd free-kick or corner delivered into the box. Scotland came close on 17 minutes: neat play by Nicholson found Cannon on the left, but the goalscorer’s cross was deflected into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Sheik. Sheik’s opposite number Armour later pulled off a magnificent save from a Johnson header after a deep cross by Rio Joisce but the linesman’s flag had been raised for offside. Armour was again called into action just before half time as he fielded Jacob Towns’ clean strike from the edge of the penalty area.

HALF TIME: SCOTLAND 1, ENGLAND 1.

The first 25 minutes of the second half followed much of the pattern of the latter part of the first half – a midfield battle with the odd incursion into either penalty area. Nicholson had Scotland’s best two attempts. An early shot from just inside the area was deflected over the crossbar and the striker then found the side netting after collecting a stray pass just inside the penalty area.

Substitutions took place too: Scotland replaced Cant and Callum Gemmell with Harris Clubb and Jayden McGivern; Benjamin Wodskou and Jack Bostock replaced Joisce and Tyrese Hughes for the visitors. (The latter England player had picked up the match’s first caution, for a rasping challenge on Nathan Cannon.)

The last twenty minutes simply had to yield more action, given the importance of this match. England looked to take a lead, and indeed thought themselves unlucky on two occasions around the 70 minute mark. Goalkeeper Armour firstly denied Salter a lovely volleyed goal with a splendid tip over the bar after fine work by substitute Bostock. Then, a clever corner routine allowed Fletcher space to cross to a posse of English players. As the ball was poked home from close range, celebrations were cut short as linesman Ian Harte’s flag was raised to signal offside.

England continued to persevere, as a couple of minutes later a succession of corners came to nothing, then Clubb was alert to scramble the ball clear from Johnson. As both sides made further changes (Scotland: Lewis Downie for Cannon; England: Jay Sangha for Oscar Fletcher and Arran Cocks for Ollie Fraser) it was unsurprising that the hosts adopted a more attacking style. This yielded attempts from Clubb (heading over from a Ricky Waugh cross) and Downie (a shot saved by Shiek and a second shot over the crossbar).

Given this flurry of activity in the attacking half, it was always a risk for the home side that gaps may be left in defence. This proved the case with only three minutes left. Cocks was left in space in the penalty area and a desperate challenge chopped him down as he shaped to shoot. Scotland could have no complaints over the award of the spot kick which was confidently converted by substitute Wodskou. This appeared to take the wind out of Scotland’s sails and England’s victory was confirmed by Sam Johnson.

England convert the penalty

The forward had just set up an excellent chance for Cocks who saw a goal denied by a fine Jamie Carnihan block. From the resultant clearance Sangha used his fresh legs to good effect to burst past a couple of challenges. He picked out Johnson who was still in advanced position and the forward made no mistake from close range.

3-1 to England

From a relatively even game the final scoreline was harsh on Scotland, but given the group standings the adoption of a more aggressive attacking style was understandable. Scotland finish their Hummel SAFIB Centenary Shield campaign with a visit to Colwyn Bay to face current holders Wales on Thursday week.

FULL TIME: SCOTLAND 1, ENGLAND 3.

TEAMS – Scotland: Corey Armour, Jamie Carnihan, Callum Hannah, Andrew Miller, Nathan Smith, Aaron Nicholson, Ricky Waugh, Nathan Cannon (sub Lewis Downie 77), Ruaridh Cant (sub Harris Clubb 56), Daniel Mason-Bone, Callum Gemmell (sub Jayden McGivern 67).

England: Jasper Sheik, Harvey Smith, Tyrese Hughes (sub Jack Bostock 65) Jacob Towns, George Wilkinson, Laiithe Fairnie, Sam Johnson, Oscar Fletcher (sub Jay Sangha 75), Ollie Fraser (sub Arran Cocks 77), Luke Salter, Rio Joisce (sub Benjamin Wodskou 65)

Starting Eleven