It was a bizarre finale for Scotland Schoolboys in the final warm-up before the Centenary Shield match against England next month. The side drew 3-3 against a touring Australian team at New Western Park in Renfrew.
The score was 0-0 at half-time, but the avalanche of goals late in a second half that included an extended period of injury time was the perfect entertainment for the home fans.
The lads from Down Under were in the midst of a tour of the British Isles to play all of the home nations, the Republic of Ireland and various independent schools’ select sides.
An end-to-end flow of exchanges was the pattern for the opening stretch of the match.
Scotland’s attack included a great break when local star Matthew Reilly won a free-kick 30 yards from goal. The ball was quickly worked to Declan Glass who jinked in-field and evaded two challenges before seeing his left-foot shot comfortably held by the Aussie goalkeeper.
Scotland came close to scoring just before half-time. A clever break by Adam Brown allowed him to take the ball past Nascimben in the Australian goal.
The forward had been pushed wide, but managed to feed the ball to Reilly, who shot over the crossbar from just inside the penalty area.
Scotland made five changes at half-time, and one of them made an instant impression, Luc Bollan scoring with a superb strike from a fine, dipping Euan O’Reilly cross.
But in the next action of note, Oliver Purflett equalised for Australia. An excellent Zac Duncan ball found the front man, who finished smartly behind substitute goalkeeper Ronan Fallens.
The match then reverted back to the template of the first half, with both sides probing quietly for a goal which would put them ahead.
The game looked to be petering out, but Australia won a succession of corners with just over ten minutes remaining. The third of these was cleared to Morrison, who fired a 30-yard shot into the bottom corner of the net to give the Australians the lead in the closing stages.
As time ticked away, it seemed set for an Australian win. But, on the 92-minute mark, as the Australian goalkeeper reached to catch the ball from an O’Reilly cross, the eagle-eyed referee spotted a foul by an Australian defender on Bollan in the area.
After prolonged discussions, Cieran Dunn made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-2.
Surely that would be it? Australia had other ideas. A ball was fired into the Scottish penalty area and Angus Long arrived to keep his cool and drill the ball low into the net.
Scotland launched one last attack with 95 minutes having elapsed. Cameron Ballantyne’s long cross into the box was partially cleared.
A gold jersey moved to control the ball just inside the area. He brought the ball down perfectly to allow a half-volleyed clearance – but he was adjudged to have used a hand and it was another penalty for the home favourites.
Dunn, under severe pressure, again steeped up to the spot and did the business.
With 97 minutes on the clock the whistle sounded for the final time. The 3-3 draw was probably a fair result, despite the crazy conclusion to the match.
Scotland’s match against England is again in Renfrewshire. It will be held at Cappielow Park at 7pm on Friday 3 March.