Scotland took a giant leap towards safety at the Belfius EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp with a convincing 4-2 win over Wales yesterday.
The Scots now top the relegation pool with four points, the same as England who overcame Ireland 2-1 in a later game, but Derek Forsyth’s charges have a single-goal advantage. Ireland and Wales, who play each other tomorrow, are both on one point, but are certainly not out of the equation.
So Forsyth’s survival mission is only partially complete, but a victory or even a draw with England in the final match would certainly be mission accomplished.
The Scots enjoyed the best of starts against Wales when, after only two minutes, the Welsh keeper provided the gift. He kicked the ball straight at Cameron Golden and the Klein Zwitzerland striker showed no mercy by thumping the ball into the bottom left corner.
The early goal settled the nerves and the Scots grew in confidence and retained control over proceedings.
In 12 minutes Scotland doubled their tally when the ball found Craig Falconer at the top of the circle and the Reading player dispatched it into the top-right corner of the net.
The Scots continued to press in the second quarter, but the Welsh defence closed ranks and there was no further scoring at the interval.
Five minutes into the second half the Scots went three up and the contest looked over. Surbiton’s Nicky Parkes picked up the loose ball, drove into the circle and fired a fierce shot into the far corner of the net.
However, there were early signs of a Welsh comeback when Owain Dolan-Gray pulled one back to reduce the Scots advantage to two.
The Scots victory was undoubtedly sealed when Golden added his second of the contest with seven minutes left. The youngster waltzed past several defenders along the baseline, then calmly scooped the ball into the Welsh net from a narrow angle for 4-1.
The Welsh did add a late goal at their fourth penalty corner when Lewis Prosser launched the ball past Tommy Alexander for 4-2 at the finish.
A delighted Scotland captain Alan Forsyth said: “Today we got the result we deserved. The Netherlands and Germany games gave us experience against quality opposition for the new squad, and I’m extremely proud of the performances against Ireland and now Wales.
“We know each other well and games against Wales are always a battle, but it was a really good game. The win is huge.
“We’re not here just to take part, we’re here to compete. We’ve done well in two out of our four games, and we’re looking for another big performance in the last game against England.”