Scotland beat Czechs to reach semis at Euro hockey tournament

Scotland captain Kaz Cuthbert celebrates her goal against Czech Republic. Picture: Duncan Gray/Scottish Hockey
Scotland captain Kaz Cuthbert celebrates her goal against Czech Republic. Picture: Duncan Gray/Scottish Hockey
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Scotland ensured a place in the semi-finals with a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic at the European Championships II at Glasgow Green yesterday.

Jen Wilson’s charges, though, made it difficult for themselves by squandering a host of chances and almost let the Czechs back into the game

The first half produced wave after wave of Scotland attacks but the Czechs defended in depth. The first opportunity came in the seventh minute. Sarah Jamieson found space in the circle but her reverse stick effort went wide.

Fiona Burnet then miscued her final shot while Charlotte Watson’s chance was blocked by the keeper.

The chances kept coming in the second quarter. A speculative effort by Millie Steiger almost deceived the keeper while Jamieson weaved her way past several defenders but was finally crowded out before she could produce a shot.

The Czechs proved dangerous on their occasional breakaways and Nikki Cochrane had to look lively on two occasions to keep a clean sheet.

Near half-time, the Scots went close to taking the lead. Watson’s tennis-style smash slipped past the post while Lucy Lanigan found space in the circle but her fierce shot brought a brilliant save from the keeper.

It took only one minute of the second half for the Scots to make the vital breakthrough, when a penalty corner brought a fierce shot by Amy Costello to finally break the deadlock.

It took another penalty corner for the Scots to double their lead. A well-rehearsed routine was finished off by a deflection into the roof of the net by captain Kaz 
Cuthbert.

With the Scots apparently in total control, the Czechs pulled themselves back into the contest with a set-piece strike by Adele Lehovcova, somewhat against the run of play.

Within a minute, the Scots regained their two-goal lead through a brilliant deflection into the roof of the net by Louise Campbell.

Another Czech goal by Veronika Decsyova made for a nervy finale but the Scots held out for the three points with some comfort.

The Scots will play Austria today in the final pool match, needing only a draw to hold on to top 
spot.

Earlier, Austria moved temporarily into second spot in the pool with a 2-1 win over pointless Ukraine.

Ukraine took a first-half lead through Yulila Shevenko after a scramble in the circle, but Nathalie Matousek levelled for Austria early in the second half.

Just as it seemed the contest was heading for a draw, Ruth Konrat deflected the ball into the roof of the net at a penalty corner for a belated winner.

Scotland head coach Jen Wilson said: “I’m delighted to get the win tonight. The players have shown great progression and are showing their excellent qualities at this tournament. The quality of the goals was really pleasing, and to score our third right after Czech Republic scored their first shows a great reaction from the players.”