Superb Scotland defeat Australia as young talents give hope for the future

While the kick-off time, the location and the game itself seemed bizarre in more ways than one, an outstanding Scotland performance at the Cherry Red Records Stadium in a 1-0 win over Australia ensured the friendly with one of the World Cup favourites was remember for all the right reasons.
Nicola Docherty of Scotland celebrates after scoring the team's first goal against Australia.Nicola Docherty of Scotland celebrates after scoring the team's first goal against Australia.
Nicola Docherty of Scotland celebrates after scoring the team's first goal against Australia.

It hasn’t been the easiest of years for Scotland and their manager Pedro Martinez Losa. Signs of improvement last summer were ultimately erased when the team suffered World Cup heartbreak at the hands of Republic of Ireland and a disappointing Pinatar Cup campaign did little to raise spirits.

The international retirement of stalwarts Jen Beattie and Kim Little saw the more experienced heads bow out of the Scotland scene in order to allow a new look Scotland to flourish under the leadership of the Spanish boss – and while noises from the inside the camp insisted Scotland were progressing under his leadership, many were worried things were going the opposite way. However, if Friday afternoon’s friendly against World Cup hosts Australia was evidence of the Scotland that is to come, there’s certainly hope they can banish the ghosts of the recent past and build a future based around some of country’s most exciting new talent fresh new talent.

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It required a resolute defensive display and a tremendous strike from Nicola Docherty in the 47th minute of this match in Wimbledon, but Losa’s Scotland side produced once of their finest displays under his management to defeat an Australian side that featured some of the world’s best players. Rangers teenage star Emma Watson was one of Scotland’s stand-out performers, with the 17-year-old showing maturity well beyond her years as she went toe to toe with the vastly experienced Katrina Gorry in the Matildas’ midfield after being handed her first start by Losa. Kirsty Hanson was equally as impressive.

Elsewhere, Claire Emslie took the captain’s armband for the first time with Rachel Corsie ruled out through injury on her 51st cap, though it was an unusual looking back three of Emma Mukandi, Docherty and Sophie Howard that would raise eyebrows. Their impressive performances would justify the the selection.

While the first half was far from a classic, it certainly belonged Scotland as his new-look side took the game to a side ranked 13 places higher than them in the FIFA rankings. In fact, despite the alleged gulf in quality, the best chances of the opening period would definitely fall the way of Scotland, with Martha Thomas twice going close and Sam Kerr (the Scottish one!) firing inches wide with a smart driven shot.

Thankfully for the ‘away’ side, they weren’t left to rue those missed first-half chances after a screamer from Rangers’ full back Docherty handed them a deserved lead in London. The goal did wake up the Australians, who opted to leave Chelsea superstar and captain Sam Kerr on the bench, and a 15 minute onslaught on Lee Gibson’s goal would ensue and while she would see one effort cannon off her crossbar, the Glasgow City goalkeeper was equal to whatever was thrown at her goal and guarded well by a back three that threw bodies on the line when needed and used composure when there could have easily been panic. Elsewhere, both Thomas and Hanson would both fashion chances of their own as they looked to close out the game with several clever breaks.

Ultimately though, Australia were unable to force a way through a resolute Scottish defence and the afternoon was won by a superior Scotland side who will hope to use the hugely impressive win as a blueprint for how their future must look under Losa. For too long players and staff within the camp have said that Scotland have the players to not just make the major tournaments but compete in them – and thanks to an outstanding afternoon’s work the Matilda’s, it may not be too much longer until that theory is put to the test.

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