Scotland’s under-16 side stood strong against their English counterparts to lift this season’s Sky Sports Victory Shield with a 1-0 win at Stark’s Park and end a 15-year wait for success in the four- nation tournament.
A win in Northern Ireland and draw in Wales had set up the opportunity for Scott Booth’s side to grab their first outright triumph since the autumn of 1998 with only a draw required. However, Calvin Miller’s first-half goal and some resolute defending saw the job done in style.
Booth revealed that Manchester United’s Darren Fletcher was the first to send in his congratulations. Fletcher was involved when Scotland last defeated the Auld Enemy in 1998 and he sent Booth a text on the final whistle asking him to pass on his congratulations.
Booth said: “That was a terrific gesture and another boost to the boys. For them to know that Darren was watching them do what he achieved all those years ago was terrific.”
“The boys deserve it as they worked incredibly hard. England are an excellent side but they struggled to cope with how we closed them down.
“There is still a long way to go in the career of these players but they have taken a small step forward with this win.”
Booth’s side had started brightly and the home fans called for an early penalty when Celtic striker Miller tumbled in the box as English captain Cameron Humphreys moved in to tackle. Referee Alan Newlands was not swayed and correctly waved play on. The Scots were taking the game to England and in eight minutes Theo Archibald looked set to nod Scotland into the lead until Laytin Ndukwu managed to flick the ball away for a corner.
Five minutes later, Archibald had another glimpse of goal as he darted on to a through ball ahead of visiting goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman. The winger lofted the ball over the shot-stopper and towards the goal but watched in agony as it hit the side-netting.
England stepped things up and looked to be gaining control midway through the half and they were almost gifted a goal when Robbie McCrorie dropped a high cross. The goalkeeper, however, was alert enough to ensure that the impressive Christopher Willock sent his effort wide.
Jonathan Leko then tested McCrorie with a low drive at the end of a twisting run, but his effort was easily dealt with.
However, Scotland struck against the run of play on 28 minutes – albeit with a touch of good fortune. Archibald flung over a cross that Whiteman came out and claimed, but he collided with Humphreys and spilled the ball out to Miller and the striker managed to roll home a shot from eight yards out.
Miller had two chances to double Scotland’s lead before the break, but Whiteman pushed away his shot from an excellent McKenzie Heaney pass and from the resultant corner the striker’s header was blocked on the line.
England made two substitutions at half-time as they went for a more adventurous approach and it almost paid off when Leko’s trickery put Scotland on the back foot and Herbie Kane darted forward and sent in a low drive that McCrorie did well to push away.
Scotland went back on the attack and came within inches of a second. Ross McCrorie, the twin brother of the ’keeper, got his head on a Mark Hill corner, but his effort came off the woodwork.
An exhausted Miller, who had played a lone striker role, was substituted with 15 minutes to go with England bringing on two fresh forwards at the same time.
England were determined not to go down without a fight and Ndukwu broke forward with ten minutes to go and left two players standing before defender McCrorie stood strong to clear at the expense of a corner.
There was a late scare when Foday Nabay whipped in a free kick from the left, but Ross McCrorie rose highest to clear.
Scotland: Robbie McCrorie (Rangers), Ross McCrorie ( Rangers), Jones (Hearts), Higgins (Celtic), Harvie (Aberdeen), McKirdy (Hearts), Archibald (Hearts), Hill (Celtic) (Ross (Aberdeen) 75), Miller (Celtic) (Norris (Aberdeen) 65, Heaney (Newcastle United), Coote (Dundee United) (Stirling (Hibs) 80). Subs not used: Doohan (Celtic), Lyon (Rangers), Murray (Celtic), O’Hara (Forth Valley).
England: Whiteman (Tottenham Hotspur) (King 70), Yates (Everton), Ndukwu (Leicester), Davies (Everton), Humphreys (Man City), Colllinge (MK Dons), Willock (Arsenal) (Hinds (Arsenal) 41), Kane (Liverpool) (Maddox (Chelsea) 65), Leko (West Brom) (Cull (Southampton) 65), Nabay (Fulham), Nmecha (Man City) (Hepburn-Murphy (Aston Villa) 41). Subs not used: Oxford (West Ham), Patching (Man City).