Scotland Under-18s sign off with mixed fortunes

Nathan Brown in action for Scotland Under-18s. Picture:  Grenville Dawson.
Nathan Brown in action for Scotland Under-18s. Picture: Grenville Dawson.
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The Scottish Schools’ FA Under-18s suffered heartache when two late goals snatched away a victory against Northern Ireland at the Solitude Stadium in Belfast.

But the boys did well to hit back with a win over the Republic of Ireland in the final match of the international season.

In Belfast, Scotland deservedly took the lead when in the 48th minute Adam Brown (Grove Academy, Dundee) scored a well worked goal.

Northern Ireland roared back and, despite two world class saves by keeper Ronan Fallens, the home team scored in the 88th and 90th minutes to break the Scots’ hearts.

The Scottish regrouped for the final Centenary Shield fixture against the Republic of Ireland at New Western Park in Renfrew and the reward was a 1-0 win.

A headed goal by captain Kyle Banner from a corner after ten minutes gave Scotland the victory. The skipper also led the defence in a well-organised display and he was aided superbly by the other defenders – George Stanger, Luc Bollan and John Kelly.

Keeper Ronan Fallens never really had a save to make in the first 45 minutes. In front of them was a hardworking midfield of Jamie Chapman, Cameron Ballantyne and local boy Calvin McGrory.

The other local lad, Matthew Reilly was a real box of tricks up front, along with Adam Brown and Euan O’Reilly whose strength and pace were a constant threat.

Substitute goalkeeper Ross Connelly made a great double-save midway through the second half.

Nathan Brown replaced George Stanger and his school-mate, Cieran Dunne, came on with 25 minutes to go to replace Adam Brown.

Robbie Bruce was a late replacement for Cameron Ballantyne and in the final minutes Adam Kirkwood had a run-out in replacing Mathew Reilly.

Possession in the second half was shared and as expected the visitors pushed forward for an equaliser. Scotland held firm and offered a threat on the counter but there was no chance they were going to allow a repeat of the
 previous week. They defended stoutly and with great control.

The game ended at 1-0 giving Scotland their first victory over the Republic of Ireland team in a Centenary Shield game since 1986.

The Scottish Schools squad met up for the final time last Friday when the cap presentation ceremony took place at Hampden Park.

The boys said their farewells and left with treasured memories of an excellent season representing the Scottish Schools’ FA in international 
football.