Hockey: Scots come close to bronze at the FIH Champions Challenge

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Scotland missed out on the bronze medal at the FIH Champions Challenge in Dublin when they went down 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to hosts Ireland after the sides finished level 2-2 after extra-time.

Scotland coach Gordon Shepherd had set his team the initial target of the top six and his charges have surpassed that by finishing fourth among countries listed above them in the world rankings.

The penalty competition started well enough for the Scots: Nikki Kidd, Sam Judge and Vikki Bunce all scored and goalkeeper Amy Gibson had saved one of Ireland’s efforts for a 3-2 lead.

Then it went wrong. Ailsa Wyllie overran the allotted eight seconds, Kareena Marshall on her 50th cap sent her shot wide, while the Irish scored their final two chances to take the bronze.

The Scots started brightly with a couple of early chances and took the lead in six minutes. The build-up was by Bunce and Nikki Lloyd, leaving Ali Bell to finish the move with a low shot from a narrow angle.

The Irish gradually came back into the contest and equalised when Emma Smyth bundled the ball over the line.

Scotland started the second half with purpose, and, in three minutes, Judge fired home a powerful low shot to regain the lead. Shepherd’s were holding out for the win, but, with five minutes, left Niamh Atcheler levelled from a penalty corner.

In extra time, brilliant blocks from Gibson saved the Scots, but towards the finale two penalty corner flicks from Kidd were brilliantly blocked by the Irish goalkeeper.

On Saturday, keeper Gibson was the undoubted heroine of the occasion in the 2-0 defeat by Australia in the semi-final match, the Milne Craig Western goalkeeper produced a series of brilliant saves to frustrate the tournament favourites. Despite the eventual defeat, the Scots 
can take a lot of credit for their fighting performance.