Sunday 2nd July 2003. Scotland’s women take on the Czech Republic at Peffemill, Edinburgh in the second leg of a two day test series as part of their preparations for the Euro Hockey Championships this summer.
At 12:30 the match began. From the start Scotland showed their attacking intent with a high press, putting the Czechs under pressure right off the bat.
Within four minutes Scotland were 1 – 0 ahead through a rocket into the roof of the net by #27 Fiona Burnet. They continued to fire shots towards the Czech goal only to narrowly miss the target or be thwarted by the Czech defence.
The Czechs dug in as the relentless Scots reigned down on their opponents time after time. It was perhaps #11 Katie Birch who came closest midway with a strike veering narrowly wide to the left of goal.
Both sides demonstrated excellent tackling however preventing any further goals during this quarter. All the same it looked like Scotland, who had dominated possession up until now, had more to show in the second half.
Sure enough this was a tale of two halves.
Scotland were having more and more shots on target. The first notable chance of the half came from a short corner as #8 Amy Costello drag flicked the ball ferociously from the edge of the D only to be stopped by the keeper’s left leg.
Shortly after this another strike, this time by #14 Elizabeth Wilson from open play, was saved spectacularly by the keeper’s extended right leg.
Scotland were getting closer to a second and that duly came from a short corner set piece. #11 Katie Birch again striking the ball sweetly from the edge of the D for #5 Laura Swanson to deftly deflect the ball past the outstretched keeper.
Just as the quarter was coming to a close a short range effort from Scotland struck the metalwork at the back post. There was so many bodies in the box I haven’t a clue of the striker’s identity.
Anyway, at this point it can be confidently said that Scotland was going up the gears.
It would be a disservice to say the Czech team didn’t have forays into Scots territory but their opponents appeared to be more determined to chase down every ball, apply pressure, win every tackle.
Scotland had pressed high throughout the match yet showed their levels of fitness and determination by getting back to perform defensive duties when required.
It was close to the beginning of the final quarter when the Czechs had possibly their best chance of the day as #24 Nela Tlamsova found herself through on goal. Electing to take the shot early from the edge of the D she missed the target by the narrowest of margins.
This only seemed to spur the Scots on further, as minutes later they had their third goal of the day and it was #6 Sophie Hinds on her Scotland debut who tapped home after some excellent open play from the home side.
Just two minutes later and Scotland had their fourth, as a sweetly struck ball square across the D was met by #9 Katie Robertson who then swept the ball past the outstretched keeper and into the goal.
For the last 10 minutes of the game the Czech keeper pulled off another couple of decent saves but the race was done and in the end Scotland won quite comfortably 4-0.
This was an impressive performance from Scotland. They dominated possession and were strong in all positions. Attack focused, whilst tracking back to defend and quickly turning around lost possession.
Were it not for some excellent defending from the Czech Republic players, not withstanding their keeper, this could have been a cricket scoreline from the Scots.
The match was conducted in a friendly (yet competitive manner) with only two green cards issued. What was especially nice was that the Scotland players stayed on the pitch after the match to pass the ball around and interact with some of the younger members of the crowd. This team has great spirit and today it showed.
Good luck for the Euro Championships!