Ireland Lose Out To Scotland In Seven Goal Thriller

Ireland narrowly lost out to Scotland in a seven goal thriller at Peffermill today.

The Irish should have been playing South Africa, but Visa problems meant that there would be a repeat of yesterday’s clash with Scotland instead.

The game was delayed slightly due to a clash of colours, and the Scots ended up playing in light blue bibs with red socks.

Unfortunately there was no repeat in the glorious weather, as the game started in the rain, and like yesterday, it was the Irish who grabbed the early initiative, and it took a good save from the Scotland keeper Amy Gibson to prevent Gillian Pender from grabbing the lead.

The Irish didn’t have long to wait however and opened the scoring following a penalty corner in the 13th minute. Audrey O’Flynn’s drag-flick was stopped on the line by Gibson but the ball fell to Niamh Atcheler, who tapped the ball into the goal from close range.

Gibson then did well to block from Anna O’Flanagan as the Irish looked to extend their lead, but the Scots fought back and Nikki Kidd almost grabbed an equaliser in the 19th minute when her penalty corner attempt struck the left hand post, only for the umpire to award a penalty stroke for an illegal clearance by Ireland goalkeeper Pamela Smithwick.

Kidd took the resultant penalty and slammed the ball low into the bottom right hand corner of the goal with Smithwick helpless.

The Scots then took a deserved lead in the 27th minute when Ali Bell intercepted a poor Irish defensive clearance before finding Clement who calmly slotted a low drive past Smithwick for a 2-1 lead.

Ireland missed a great chance to level the scores just before half time but O’Flynn’s drag-flock was cleared off the line by Leigh Fawcett.

Smithwick then prevented Scotland extending their lead just after the break following some excellent interplay between Cram and Vikki Bunce, but with the Scots starting to dominate possession, Ireland grabbed an equalising goal against the run of play in the 43rd minute following a mazy run and shot by Lisa Jacob.

With twenty minutes remaining, the Scots regained the lead in style when Bell intercepted another loose Ireland clearance on the right hand touchline before beating two defenders and smashing an unstoppable reverse stick shot into the top corner of the net, sparking wild celebrations amongst her team-mates.
Four minutes later, the Scots went 4-2 up with another superb goal. A Sarah Robertson pass found Cram in the circle and her reverse stick drive gave Smithwick no chance.

The Irish refused to lie down however and two minutes later pulled a goal back when Nicola Gray’s penalty corner shot was saved by Gibson, but, Atcheler was on hand to clip the re-bound into the net to make it 4-3.

Ireland piled on the pressure in the last ten minutes, and Gibson produced several good saves to prevent an equaliser. In the last minute, Ireland hit the post, but Scotland were able to hold out for a 4-3 win at full-time.

After the game Ireland manager Darren Smith told Irish News Review: I actually though that it was a better game than yesterday. Both teams play a nice, open attractive style and it’s good to see seven goals scored. From our perspective, perhaps four is a bit too many, but on a positive, in the second half we held the ball a little bit better and we created a number of opportunities which I’m pretty happy about. I’m hopeful that as we go forward we will be able to tighten up that defence.”

A delighted Scotland manager Gordon Shepherd told Irish News Review: “I’m delighted with the result and the performance. We asked for an improvement on yesterday’s performance and we certainly got that. It’s not often we have a game against Ireland with seven goals in it and from our point of view, three open play goals too, in fact two absolutely fantastic goals in the second half”.

“We went from a being on a high after we scored our fourth goal, going 4-2 up, and then the pressure built on us and we didn’t deal with that as well as we know we can, so that will be an area that we’ll look at, especially before Friday because South Africa will be a harder test for us. It’s something we have to deal with and we need to see games out. I prefer to see us in the attacking end of the pitch rather than our own circle as we look to close games out.”

 “However, I’m happy we could make eight changes to the team from yesterday and yet still lift the performance level that was required. So overall, I’m very pleased.”

 Photographs by John Preece:

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