It was a perfect night at Holy Cross High School as both teams took to the pitch.
The Scotland squad were without three players, with the squad captain Lily being on duty with the SFA U17 squad also May and Amelie still recovering from injury.
The team started with Alex in goal, Abby, Sky, Lucy and Erin Gilvear in the back four. Phoebe started wide right with Iona, and Ava Crawford holding the centre of the pitch with the captain Orla playing on the left side. Melisssa and Dara started up top.
It was great to see the young Scots starting the game on the front foot and playing positively from the off. The ball was being played quickly to the willing wide players in both Phoebe and Orla, both of whom realised that they had the beating of their immediate defenders. Abby and Erin Gilvear were backing up the wide players with willing runs beyond their teammates.
Both Iona and Ava Crawford were beginning to pull the strings, driving the Scots forward confidently, and it was not long before the opening goal arrived. Orla and Iona combined well down the left-hand side and as the ball was played into Dara’s feet, she held the ball up before setting Orla off on a strong positive run on the flank. Orla’s pass found Mellisa at the edge of the box who moved the ball onto her right foot and fired home for the first goal of the night.
It was not too long before both Melissa and Dara combined again with Melissa this time becoming the provider with a lovely, chipped pass into Dara’s stride. Dara looked up and after spotting the keeper off her line and confidently lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper and into the net.
The Scots were looking to keep possession of the ball when they won it back from the hard-working Hamilton players. Alex was keeping the back four on their toes and dealt with any through balls that came her way. Sky and Lucy were always looking to play the ball forward and start moves from the back but were also happy to step forward into the midfield.
Ava Crawford and Iona were starting to take charge of the centre of the park linking with the strikers, as well as receiving the ball from the Scots defenders and playing the ball assuredly forward. Their range of passing now was more and more on show.
After a good passage of play from the Scots, Melissa took the initiative and after receiving the ball on the half turn, she fired the ball high into the net. It was a lovely finish from distance.
The young Scots were now in full control and were looking to get into the ‘good habits’ that would be put to the test in the matches to come. They kept the ball and worked hard together to get the ball back from the Accies players. They pressed and probed and ended the half well on top but always showing a willingness to work for each other at all times.
The second period started with three outfield changes. Caitlin came on for Lucy, with Ava Allison playing on the right-hand side and Phoebe coming over to the left. Erin O’Brien came on up front for Dara. Halfway through the half Morgan would swap the goalkeeping duties with Alex.
The game was again being played in the Accies half as the second period started with the Scots playing the ball into channels and in behind the Accies back line for the ever-eager running of both the strikers and wide players.
It was from one of these passes that sent Phoebe down the right-hand side. Her blistering pace got her to a ball and on the run, she delivered a lovely cross into the middle that on this occasion just eluded the on-rushing strikers and Ava Allison at the back post.
The Hamilton players kept playing and tried to get the ball forward when they could. On this occasion they attacked down the right-hand side and did well to force a corner. The Scots set up in their defensive positions and as the ball came in, it was met firmly at the front post.
The ball was played to Phoebe who ‘took off’. She took a lovely touch and played the ball in behind the defender. As she cut inside, she looked up and played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Ava Crawford, who had made the lung busting run from her defensive position at the edge of the Scots 18-yard box to score. Ava Crawford and Iona were looking to drive the team forward and both had shots from distance that stung the hands of the keeper.
Ava Allison and Phoebe were tormenting the defenders at will with both Erin Gilvear and Abby backing them up.
And it was Phoebe who picked up the ball at the edge of the box after a fine passing move. She looked up to find the keeper off her line and drove the ball high into the corner of the Hamilton goal.
As the period progressed it was good to see that the young Scotland team kept the intensity up all over the pitch. The back four kept their shape throughout with the midfield always pressing and working hard for each other. The strikers were always looking to link and add to the goal tally. However, it was a wonderful strike from the ever-eager Ava Crawford who blasted in the next goal.
Morgan who had taken over from Alex during the period was keeping the back four in place as well as making herself available for any tidying up that had to be done at the back.
As the game proceeded and the Scots pressed for more, Phoebe was played in by Iona on the left-hand side, but on this occasion her cross was well defended by the Accies full back. However from the resulting corner, Phoebe sent over a perfect cross that Caitlin met powerfully to send a bullet header past the Accies keeper.
Ava Allison was now getting on the ball and tormenting the defender as she continued to run beyond the full back. Erin Gilvear and Phoebe were linking up well, as the Scots looked to finish the period with another goal.
That goal arrived from a wonderful solo effort from Phoebe, who cut in from the left wing, after another telling through pass from Iona. She then expertly rounded the keeper and finished off another excellent period by the full team with a wonderfully created and executed goal.
The third period started with changes to the team, Lucy came on to partner Caitlin with Sky moving forward into the sitting midfield position. Iona dropped back into the left full back position. Orla came back onto the wide left berth with Dara replacing Melissa in the front line.
The changes and the score line did not stop the young Scots from going forward and from getting the ball back from the Hamilton players. Hamilton had not stopped working hard, always trying to play football throughout the game.
Orla was leading by example and as she played a lovely one–two with Dara, she switched on the ‘after burners’ to power past the Accies defender, then looked up and played her cross towards the on-rushing Erin O’Brien for a tap in, but unfortunately for the luckless defender the ball ended up in the net.
Again, the play was predominantly in the Accies half at this stage with the wide players of Ava Allison and Orla continuing to set up chances for the eager forwards. It was Ava Allison who worked a lovely opening with Abby to fire in an inch perfect cross for Dara to score her second goal of the day.
Morgan who had been quiet in the game, due to the defending in front of her in the game, had to be alert as the Accies forward broke down the Scots right. As she broke inside, she sent a powerful strike towards goal. Morgan’s reaction was excellent considering her limited action to this point as she saved the ball low down to her right.
The final goal of the night came from another dangerous corner from the Scots right as Sky attacked the ball at the edge of the 6-yard box and forced the ball over the line from a ‘glancing’ header
The final whistle blew on a good night for goals and in the gaining of more knowledge for the players. Confidence and camaraderie in the squad was growing for all to see.
The next test will be an International friendly match against Northern Ireland at the Seaview Stadium, the home of the Crusaders FC in Belfast, on Saturday 17 February.