Hockey: Defeat for young Scots in first top flight match
Two years ago, Scotland's under 21 women gained promotion to the top division of European hockey. Yesterday in Lille, northern France, only a very few members of that squad were in the Scotland team which opened its campaign, with much of the balance of the squad, and indeed the coach Rhona Simpson, having steered the under-18 team into that age group's top division in Madrid last summer.
So it was a young but experienced team which took to the field against Belarus, a team ranked fourth in the tournament but, on paper at least, the best opportunity for Scotland to win some points, given that the other two teams in Scotland's group are champions in 2006 and 2008, Germany and the victors in Madrid last year, Spain.
Scotland started well, dominating the first 20 minutes, and regularly threatening the Belarus goal before, on virtually their first excursion into the Scotland half, Belarus won a short corner and scored with a drag flick. They doubled their lead soon after when their two forwards, though outnumbered, combined brilliantly to score.
This stunned the Scots into action and after a great run and shot from Amy Brodie, Daniele Johnston pounced on the rebound to score. Louise Flemming brought the scores level from a short corner and the half ended as it had begun, with the Scots well on top.
The second half had barely started when Belarus scored a scrappy goal and then restored their two-goal lead with another drag flick corner not long after. The Scots have an immediate opportunity to make amends for their 4-2 defeat in today's game against Spain.
Meanwhile, Scotland's under-21 men began their Eurohockey Trophy campaign with a 4-1 win over Wales in Vienna.
The Scots began in the worst possible fashion by conceding a goal within the first five minutes when the defence was caught napping allowing Nick Rees to fire a low shot past Tommy Alexander. But midway through the half, a brilliant solo run by John Harris ended with a fierce reverse stick volley to level the scores at half time.
Scotland continued in total control yet continuing to spurn a whole host of chances until Josh Cairns gave them the lead with a vicious drag flick which found the roof of the net.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes, a cross from Calum Grant left John Harris with the simple task of rolling the ball into the empty net. Then in overtime, Scotland were awarded a corner and when Cairns' shot was illegally stopped, Alan Forsyth stepped up to net the resultant penalty stroke with a low shot.
Today Scotland face Italy who top the group following their 9-1 demolition of Azerbaijan.