AFTER a draw with Northern Ireland and a defeat by Wales, Scotland travelled to Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium hoping to finally notch a win against England in the SAFIB Centenary Shield.
But they knew it was going to be tough against a side who had already beaten both Northern Ireland and Wales.
It turned out to be a close encounter in the pouring rain, and the visitors put up a good show.
But it England came out on top, 2-1 winners and on course to be crowned Centenary champions.
The opening ten minutes reflected each team’s hunger for all three points, and the lively start produced plenty of tough tackling on a breezy evening in Lancashire.
Scotland twice tried to find John Cunningham with longer passes (from Adam Kirkwood and Adam Martin respectively) while England espoused a more patient build-up.
This was best illustrated after eight minutes when George O’Maley, Joshua Shionibare, Aaron Smith, Benjamin Bradshaw and Joseph Thomas combined in a flowing move, which was eventually cleared by Scotland’s Dominic Kane at the expense of a throw-in. Scotland were finding themselves under repeated pressure. Josh McDonald and Jack Cook had to make excellent tackles to break up English raids, while Kirkwood averted the opener after 27 minutes with a goalline clearance from Shonibare’s effort, which followed a spell of head tennis between Wisson and Aaron Smith.
After this scare, Scotland then gained a foothold in the match, and finished the half strongly.
A fine Kirkwood pass found Lachie Macleod, but England goalkeeper Andrew Wycherley was able to gather his shot on the six-yard line.
There were a few more chances on either side but the half-time whistle blew with the score at 0-0.
After the break, Liam Strachan and Kyle banner replaced Morgan Reid and Dominic Kane.
Scotland remained in the ascendency – so it was against the run of play when England scored in the 53rd minute.
Scotland had sent a number of players forward in an effort to score from a set-piece. However, the ball fell into goalkeeper Wycherley’s arms. His quick and accurate kick found Thomas racing down the left touchline. His accurate cross reached Aaron Smith, and the big striker did the rest from ten yards out.
It was a classic sucker punch inflicted against a Scottish side which had been so much on top.
But the Scots didn’t let the heads go down and they were rewarded with an equaliser.
From Martin’s outswinging corner, Banner’s initial header was blocked, but he had the presence of mind to follow up with a powerful right-foot shot which cannoned off the near post and into the net.
In the last ten minutes, two tired teams continued to slug it out, and just as the fourth official held the board aloft to indicate that there would be four additional minutes of play, England grabbed a winner.
It sparked raucous celebrations from England, while the Scottish players sank onto the sodden turf on this gloomiest of evenings.
Scotland line-up: Andrew Wilson (St Kentigern’s Academy), Josh MacDonald (Calderglen High School), (sub: Ryan McRitchie (Millburn Academy) 56 min), Adam Kirkwood (Stranraer Academy), Callum Laing (St Joseph’s College), Jack Cook (Dunbar Grammar School), Bradley Manson (Oldmachar Academy), Adam Martin (Bearsden Academy), (sub: Mark Smith (Grove Academy) 67 mins), Dominic Kane (St Kentgern’s Academy) (sub: Kyle Banner (Graeme High School) 45 mins), John Cunningham (Hamilton Grammar School), Lachie MacLeod (Aberdeen Grammar School), (sub: Seyon Kosheodo (Harlaw Academy) 81 mins), Morgan Reid (Bannockburn High School) (sub: Liam Strachan (North East Scotland College) 45 mins).