Scotland 1 Northern Ireland 1
New Western Park, Renfrew
Friday 6 March 2020
In a Centenary Shield game, switched from the original venue at Beith Juniors to New Western Park, Renfrew Juniors due to ground condition difficulties caused by wet weather, the SSFA under 18 boys international team fought out a competitive 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland.
This was the first match in this season’s competition and it displayed all the characteristics of a typical Scotland v Northern Ireland schoolboy international.
The visitors had a man sent off after 68 minutes, had a number of other players booked and two coaching staff also cautioned but they managed to hang on to win an away point.
Scotland shed the disappointment of a recent lacklustre performance against Stirling University and they showed great strength of character and fighting qualities in a tough game.
After only four minutes Scotland fell behind. A long cross from the left was won in the air by Peter McKirenan and his header from 15 yards gave Scotland keeper Jacques Heraghty ( Holyrood Sec) no chance.
Not the start the home team was looking for but they responded so very well to this early set back.
In the seventh minute forwards Blair Sneddon ( Graeme HS) and Gospel Ocholi ( John Paul Academy) combined brilliantly down the left wing. Sneddon’s cut back found his team mate ten yards out and Ocholi calmly finished with a well placed shot – a great team goal.
Lucas Williamson ( Wallace HS) made a great cross that gave Scott Neil ( Grange Academy) a chance at the back post and Blair Sneddon had a shot from distance saved.
The Scotland forward was causing his direct opponent so much difficulty that Northern Ireland made a substitution after only 26 minutes to try to curb the threat.
Referee Barry Cook was having his work cut out with some spicy challenges from both teams and his yellow card was used a couple of times.
Just before half time keeper Heraghty saved well a long range shot from Terry Devlin and the half time whistle came with the score at 1-1.
Scotland made two half time subs – Josh McConville ( Harris Acad) was replaced by Liam Newton ( Kirkcaldy HS) and Jack Reid ( Woodmill HS) came on to replace Scott Neil.
The first fifteen minutes of the half was feisty with further bookings including a Northern Ireland coach.
The boys from across the water had a few chances but after 21 minutes of the second half their captain, Tral Hume, who has been booked earlier threw himself down in the box and was shown a second yellow card for simulation.
Against ten men Scotland still had to defend but, led by an inspirational captain’s performance by Ben Cameron ( Bearsden Acad) the entire defence, Heragathy, Kyle Sneddon( Madras College), Millar Gamble ( Culloden HS) and Lucas Williamson were outstanding.
In mid field Jack Sharples ( Braes HS) worked so hard as did Billy Owen ( John Paul Academy) and all the other available outfield subs were used – Ryan Arnott ( Grove Acad), Cieran Harkins ( St Peter The Apostle) and James Graham ( Dingwall Acad).
Scotland played the ball well against ten men but they couldn’t find a way through the determined visiting defence.
More substitutions took place from Northern Ireland as did more bookings, including a second NI coach.
Despite the best efforts of both teams there were no further goals and the game ended with a share of the Centenary Shield points.
Well done to the Scotland team who had to display their competitive side to win a hard earned point.
Northern Ireland play next week against Wales in Belfast and on Thursday 19th March Scotland meet the Republic of Ireland at Home Park in Dublin.
Scotland: Heraghty, K. Sneddon, Cameron ( capt), Gamble, Williamson, McConville, Sharples, Neil, Owen, B. Sneddon, Ocholi.
Subs used: Newton, Reid, Harkins and Graham.
Subs unused: Dean Beveridge ( Edinburgh College). Injured Lewis Nicholson ( Culloden Acad)