Hockey: Scots spot on to take points against USA

Nikki Kidd and her Scottish counterparts prevailed over the Americans in a nail-biting penalty shootout. Picture: Contributed
Nikki Kidd and her Scottish counterparts prevailed over the Americans in a nail-biting penalty shootout. Picture: Contributed
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SCOTLAND goalkeeper Amy Gibson was the heroine against the United States in the second round of the FIH World League in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.

She kept a clean sheet in the penalty shoot-out as the Scots won 2-0 after the teams had drawn 1-1 in normal time.

Nikki Kidd’s shot in off the post opened the scoring for Scotland in the shoot-out, Sam Judge and Linda Clement failed to find the net as did the Americans, and the winner was delivered by Vikki Bunce at the second attempt to put the Scots two up. When the Americans failed to score in their fourth attempt, the Scots earned a point for the draw and a crucial bonus point for the shoot-out victory.

Although Chile go top of the pool competition after beating Brazil 5-1 in an earlier game, that can be seen as a false position as they have yet to play both USA and Scotland. The Scots are now a point ahead of tournament favourites USA, and that could be a crucial advantage when it comes to deciding the top two teams to qualify for the third round.

Scotland could have opened their account in the first minute, a Bunce snap shot bringing the best out of the American goalkeeper. Then Gordon Shepherd’s charges survived a couple of let-offs. Susan McGilveray gave the ball away but Torrie Albini’s shot cannoned off a post, before a penalty corner strike by Claire Laubach suffered a similar fate.

The Americans took the lead in 14 minutes. They took a quick free hit, Aileen Davis failed to react to the danger, and this time 
Albini deflected the ball home.

USA were dominating but gradually the Scots pulled themselves back into the contest. Towards half-time there were chances for both sides, Gibson having to look lively to prevent the Americans from increasing their lead, while at the other end Bunce had a shot saved by the keeper, to be followed by a brace of penalty corner efforts from Kidd just on the interval that again brought the American keeper into action.

The United States were the more adventurous side at the start of the second half. Gibson again was called on to make some crucial saves while the Rio heat seemed to slow the Scots down. But, under the encouragement of coach Gordon Shepherd, the Scots picked it up and drove down the pitch to win a penalty corner. Kidd’s initial direct strike illegally struck the foot of a defender on the line, and up stepped Kidd again to fire a low shot home from the spot for the equaliser a little against the run of play.

USA then retaliated with commitment and not for the first time in the match Gibson in the Scotland goal was the barrier between them and regaining the lead. But, in the closing ten minutes, the Scots seemed to get a second wind and won a penalty corner through the tenacity of Linda Clement, but Bunce’s resulting shot was blocked. With two minutes remaining Bunce’s persistence won another set piece and this time Kidd’s 
powerful drag flick was saved by the goalkeeper, and so the match finished in a share of the spoils.

Scotland are in a good position with two games left. They should see off Uruguay tomorrow, but the final game against Chile on Sunday could be the crucial for a place in the third round of the World League.

Scotland: Vikki Bunce, Catriona Ralph, Sam Judge, Linda Clement (captain), Ailsa Wyllie, Kareena Marshall, Leigh Fawcett, Nikki Kidd, Aileen Davis, Amy Gibson, Morag McLellan. Substitutes: Nicky Cochrane, Ali Bell, Holly Cram, Susan McGilveray, Ali Howie, Nicola Skrastin, Nikki Lloyd.