Scotland 2 English Independent Schools 2

With two minutes left on the referee’s watch the English Independent Schools’ FA team must have been thinking that they had secured a good 2 – 1 away victory against the SSFA team in the International Challenge match at Toryglen Regional Indoor Centre on Sunday 16th January.

However the Scottish boys refused to give up and following a well worked move on the left wing involving Ben Lamont ( Broughton HS) and winger Che Riley, the St Columba’s HS, Dunfermline player played a perfect pull back pass to Oli Brander. The Grove Academy mid fielder, from 16 yards out, hammered home an unstoppable shot to give the Scots a deserved draw against a skilful and very capable opposition side.

This was the SSFA team’s second match as part of their preparation programme ahead of the 2022 Centenary Shield campaign which begins in early March. A win in late December against a Stirling Albion FC side got the team off to a great start but this game gave them a real test.

The visitors started at a terrific pace and intensity and Scotland had to react to the high pace of the game. Immediately it was clear that EISFA had more than a few very talented players and their right winger Basil Tuma, who has already played for his native Ugandan under 17 international team, was a real threat from minute one. He tested both Mathew Strachan ( Millburn Ac) and then Gavin Hamilton ( Wallace HS) when he switched wings. Both defenders came through a real test with flying colours as Scotland finally got in to the game.

However it was the EISFA team who took the lead. A corner in the 26th minute found Tuma at the back post area. Scotland keeper, Liam Russell ( Holyrood HS) got a hand to Tuma’s powerful header but he couldn’t keep it out.

England's Tuma (number 7) heads in the opening goal

Scotland reacted well to going behind and started to keep better possession. In the 35th minute Lewis Gibson ( Dumfries HS) won the ball back in midfield. His pass found forward Rayan Mohammed ( James Gillespie’s HS). Rayan made space for himself and fired in a bullet 20 yard shot which came down off the bar and bounced behind the goal line. What a strike!!

Scotland players congratulate Rayan Mohammed on his equalising goal

Half time arrived with the score at 1 – 1 and Scotland probably pleased to be level in a high tempo game.

Scotland made the four planned half time substitutions bringing on Lewis Lorimer ( Harris Academy), Ben Lamont ( Broughton HS), Che Riley ( St Columba’s HS) and Brodie Watt ( Portobello HS). The newcomers settled well and Scotland took more control of the game.

After six minutes of the half Lucas Stenhouse ( James Young HS), who had moved more centrally, was unlucky to see an outstanding double save from the English keeper. Lewis Lavin deny him a goal.

In the 15th minute of the half however it was EISFA who took the lead and not Scotland. A free kick from 25 yards out was swung to the back post and Joe Hunter moved in unchallenged to fire home a goal that put the English side back in front.

England Hunter fires home their second goal

Jonathan Steel ( James Gillespies HS) replaced the excellent Bailey Klimionek ( Liberton HS). John Binnie ( Braes HS) went close with a couple of headers and forward Brodie Watt headed just wide as the SSFA side showed they were not willing to give up.

Then came Brander’s last gasp equaliser which meant the game ended in a 2 – 2 draw.

Scotland's Ollie Brander equalises late in the game

The SSFA are extremely grateful to the EISFA organisation whose willingness to travel made this game possible at this difficult time. In what was an excellent game the young officials team of C. Greenam, A. Bebbington, and K. Hannah were excellent and deserve mention.

Thanks too to both teams for an excellent game played in competitive but fair fashion which was enjoyed by the small crowd of very proud parents.

Scotland: Liam Russell, Gavin Hamilton, John Binnie, Bailey Klimionek, Mathew Strachan, Kenny McInnes ( ( Inverness College), Michael Beagley ( St Margaret’s Academy, Livingston), Oli Brander, Rayan Mohammed, Lucas Stenhouse, Lewis Gibson. Subs: Jonathan Steel, Lewis Lorimer, Brodie Watt, Che Riley and Ben Lamont. Unavailable for this match: Fergus Robertson ( St John’s HS Dundee) and Jay Burns ( Dumfries Acad).

EISFA: 1 Heath Richardson, 2 Jake Riddington, 3 Ollie Leggett, 4Henry Welles, 5 Luke Harrop, 6 Oliver Hampstead, 7 Basil Tuma, 8 Cameron Brayne, 9 Joseph Dixon,10 Joe Hunter, 11 Ezra Aaron, 12 Henry Cooper, 13 GK Lewis Lavin.

Referee: C. Greenam

Assistant Referees: A. Bebbington, K. Hannah

Scotland now play in their next preparation game against the Stirling University’s u 20 side at the Gannochy Pavilion, Stirling University on Tuesday 1st February at 2.00pm.

Their first international match will be against the Northern Ireland team at New Western Park, Renfrew on Thursday 3rd March at 7.00pm.