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Today saw the announcement for the Scotland Schools under 18’s squad for the upcoming 2016/17 Centenary Shield (pictured right, last season's squad in action), as well as a friendly against Australia in January. The squad is as follows:
Cameron Ballantyne – Glasgow Academy
Kyle Banner – Graeme High School
Luc Bollan – Montifeith High School
Adam Brown – Grove Academy
Nathan Brown  - Stewart Melville’s College
Robbie Bruce – Buckie High School
Jamie Chapman – Edinburgh College
Cieran Dunne – Stewart Melville’s College
Ronan Fallens – St Modan’s High School
Declan Glass – Ross High School
John Kelly – Trinity High School
Adam Kirkwood – Stranraer Academy
Calvin McGrory – Eastwood High School
Euan O’Reilly  - The Community of Auchterarder
Matthew Reilly – St Ninians High School
George Stanger – Dunblane High School
Kieran Sweeney – St Kentigerns Academy
Ross Connelly - Graeme High School
Scotland kick off the upcoming internationals with a friendly against Australia at Renfrew Juniors ground on the 25th January. Their opening game of the Centenary Shield will be against old rivals England at St Mirren Park on the 3rd March, before playing away to Wales and Northern Ireland on the 16th March and 31st March respectively. The final fixture of the competition will be at home to Republic of Ireland, at Lesser Hampden on 6th April.
Current holders England have won three of the last five tournaments, with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland winning the other two. Scotland last tasted victory in this competition in 2011, when they finished as joint winners with Northern Ireland, and will be looking to repeat that feat again this time. 
A statement on the Scottish Student Sport website reads:
After a trial process with over 45 players signing up, Scottish Student Sport is excited to announce an initial squad selection of 15 students for the SSF Women’s National Squad programme. An additional 5 players will be selected at a later date and those selections will be confirmed in 2017. It was fantastic to see 12 College and University institutions represented at the trials, highlighting the quality of women’s student football across Scotland. We wish the very best to those players not selected and we encourage them to get involved in BUCS and Scottish Student Sport during their time studying if they aren’t already.
‘We were really pleased with the desire everyone showed during the trial process and I would like to thank SWPL and SWFL clubs for being really supportive of the programme. The quality of players in Scotland currently in education is at a fantastic level and there is an abundance of talent. All the staff are looking forward to the build up to April and showing what Scotland has to offer when we compete in the Home Nations.’ Thomas Craig, Head Coach
2016-17 Scottish Student Women’s Football Squad
Rachel Donaldson – Stirling University
Demi Falconer – Stirling University
Laura Gallen – University of West Scotland
Leona Gibbs McKinley – St Andrews University
Chloe Logan – Stirling University (GK)
Beth Macleod – Edinburgh University
Courtney McAvoy – Edinburgh University
Beth McKay – Stirling University
Jordan McLintock – Glasgow University
Katy Morris – Stirling University
Charlotte Parker-Smith – Edinburgh University (GK)
Hayley Sinclair – Stirling University
Lucy Stanton – Edinburgh University
Ann Taylor – Stirling University
Rebecca Zoltie – Stirling University 
The squad will meet up in 2017 for training and friendlies before competing in the Home Nations Tournament in Easter 2017.
Thursday, 03 November 2016 14:19

Victory Shield: Get to know the Scotland attack

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Craig Edwards finishes our analysis of the Scotland squad for the Sky Sports Victory Shield, this time focusing on the attackers – headlined by Celtic wonderkid Karamoko Dembele (pictured, above).
If Scotland are to re-take the Sky Sports Victory Shield off of holders Wales they will require the goals from their front men, especially knowing that victory against the Republic of Ireland on Friday will win the shield for the first time since 2013.
Two games down and two of the seven forwards have appeared on the scoresheet. Rangers striker Zac Butterworth scored the second goal in the opening game as the hosts beat Northern Ireland. Brilliantly slipped through he calmly tucked it past the keeper to record his first goal of the competition.
The other striker to have found the net is Jamie Semple. He scored twice as Scotland were held by Wales in the second game of the competition. The Motherwell starlet has appeared for the Fir Park’s under 20 side and is on a few Premier League radars down south including Sunderland, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite not scoring, it’s no question that the 13 year old Celtic starlet, Karamoko Dembele, has caught the eye. He trained at St George’s Park in England the week before he made his Scotland under 16s Anchordebut, coming on as a substitute in the Wales match.
Another Celtic striker in the squad is Kieran McGrath who was signed by the Hoops last year after he chose the club he supports over Aston Villa, Everton, Newcastle United, Southampton and Stoke City.
The other two strikers to play their football in Scotland are Joshua McPake and Anthony McDonald of Rangers and Heart of Midlothian respectively. McDonald was the subject of an article by Youth Football Scotland in January after training with the under 20s and first team. The final striker in the squad is Aaron Pressley who plays his football down in England for Aston Villa. This strike force will be hoping to fire Scotland to victory.
Tuesday afternoon saw a brave Wales side fight back from two goals down to clinch at a draw with Scotland in the Victory Shield at the Oriam Centre.
This match started in the manner you would expect from a home nations match, frantic pace, little time to get the ball down and mostly one-touch play. Both sides were equipping a high pressing style and it had a big impact early on, where a long ball down the channels looked the most probable route to goal.
Scotland had the majority of possession in the opening half and looked to have it in the more dangerous areas of the pitch, but the majority of their efforts on goal were either snuffed out at the last moment by a Welsh boot or simply blasted high over the ball from just outside the box.
Although they certainly were the first side to get a foothold in the match and pass the ball around, with Wales struggling to string together moves and get up the field, they were pinned back relentlessly by the Scottish pressure.
As a result, Scotland deservedly scored their first and second goal, both around the half-an-hour mark, both courtesy of Jamie Semple, who managed to peel away from the Welsh defenders at the back-post on both occasions.
One man who was at the heartbeat of everything good for the Scots was Billy Gilmour; the small, yet skillful and determined midfielder always seemed to have time whenever the ball came to his feet, and with some wicked deliveries he managed to put Wales’ back four under pressure on several occasions, as well as rattling the post with a driven shot.
Wales made one change in the second-half which was one of the decisive factors in their comeback in the second 40 minutes. The introduction of Jack Vale on the left-wing was a smart one, as he caused havoc for the remainder of the match and looked most likely to make something happen whenever he came in from the left.
The visitors were straight out of the blocks in retrieving something from this game, as the attacking substitution paid off and Issak Davies finished off at the back post to put Scotland under immediate pressure to hold onto their lead.
With so many attacking options when Wales broke away, there was just too many players to mark and thus Wales looked capable of making something happen frequently in the second-half, with the Scottish defence unsure who to mark at times.
With the introduction of the much spoken about Karamoko Dembele, the hosts looked to grab a third rather than sit back and hold onto what they had, with four attack-minded players on the pitch at once, Scotland looked to use their opponent’s tactics and outnumber the defenders.
With a lull in the game midway through the second-half, Scotland looked to have changed their approach and became more cautious, switching to a 4-2-3-1 while Wales brought on two strikers to play up top at the same time. This certainly shifted the tempo of the game and left Wales looking the more dominant of the two as 20 minutes remained.
Ryan Mullen had being doing an exemplary job in goals to prevent a second Welsh goal, but it would prove to be too much when Ryan Astley caught a first-time volley beautifully to level things up with five minutes left.
Clearly dejected with the goal, Scotland looked as if they dreaded the possibility of a loss, and went back to an attacking formation, playing with a 4-3-3 in the closing stages, whilst Wales were able to keep them out an ensure a well-deserved point after what looked like a lost cause.
The late Wales goal means there will be no two teams level at the top of the Victory Shield table. Scotland know a win against Republic of Ireland will see them victorious and any other result will result in Irish triumph.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 17:37

Victory Shield: Get to know the Scotland midfield

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A fresh crop of Scottish midfielders takes to the stage at Oriam in this week’s Victory Shield, and on the evidence of their opening win over Northern Ireland there are strong grounds for optimism.
A dynamic midfield unit was the platform for the 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland, with players looking comfortable on the ball and keeping a good shape throughout.
Brian McLaughlin’s new look side had its first run out against France in September in a 4-0 defeat, but anyone who watched the game will tell you the score line did not the run of play.
Rangers’ Billy Gilmour (pictured, above) caught the eye against the French, and looks to have an exciting future in the game. He is already being earmarked for first team football this season at Ibrox, and coach Kenny Miller will have gone away with another glowing report for Mark Warburton. With scouts from Manchester United and Arsenal also in attendance, Gilmour turned in another confident display on Sunday, playing with his head up and always available for a pass.
Gilmour formed a solid midfield pairing with Hearts’ Harry Cochrane. Cochrane has come up through the ranks at Tynecastle and spearheaded his club’s summer success in the Foyle Cup. On Sunday’s evidence he has brought his club form to the international stage, as he played in a box to box role, linking up well in the final third.
Joining Cochrane in the squad was his Hearts team mate Marc Leonard. He showed great vision to lay on his side’s second goal for Zac Butterworth at Oriam, and is another one to watch in the years to come.
Sitting deeper in the midfield is Aberdeen’s Dean Campbell. He anchored the play well against the Irish and showed good physicality, especially in a more dogged second half. Campbell also provided the set piece delivery for Scotland’s opening goal of the game.
The final piece of the midfield jigsaw is St Mirren’s Ethan Erhahon, who came on to replace Gilmour in the second half, as Brian McLaughlin sought to add a steadying presence. He seemed to do just that and as he slotted in alongside Gilmour and Leonard.
And so it looks as though McLaughlin and James Grady have some exciting prospects on their hands as they turn to the match against defending champions Wales. With so much attention already drawn to Celtic’s Karmoko Dembele on the bench, along with the likes of Gilmour on the pitch, it is a Scotland team which looks unfazed and able to rise to the big occasion.
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:58

Victory Shield 2016 - Match Centre

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Live Table
Republic of Ireland | 9
Scotland | 4
Wales | 4
Northern Ireland | 0
Live Stream (by Scottish FA)
Match Coverage
Day 1
Scotland v Northern Ireland | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Republic of Ireland v Wales | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Day 2
Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland | Photo Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Scotland v Wales | Match Report | Match AnalysisPhoto Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Remaining Fixtures
Day 3
Northern Ireland v Wales | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Scotland v Republic of Ireland | Match Report | Photo Gallery | Video (by Scottish FA)
Featured articles
Sunday, 30 October 2016 11:40

Victory Shield: Northern Ireland Preview

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Northern Ireland make the trip to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh with the aim of claiming the Sky Sports Victory Shield for only the second time in their history.
The champions back in 2000/01, being managed by Irish FA elite performance coach Darren Murphy, open the competition against the hosts, Scotland. They are aiming to improve on their third place last year, however, did beat the Scots by a solitary goal in last year’s edition.
Northern Ireland come in to this year’s edition on the back on some good results in the build-up. This includes two victories away in Estonia in August (1-0 and 2-1) before friendlies away in Slovakia. Both ended one a piece as Northern Ireland fought back in both games to keep their unbeaten run.
After Scotland on Sunday, it is a battle between the two Irelands as Northern face Republic on Tuesday before ending the tournament against current holders Wales.
Northern Ireland Squad
Paul McLaughlin – Glentoran
Tiernan Parker – Luton Town
Jack Conlon – Portadown
Jake Corbett – Linfield
Dean Corrigan – Ballinamallard United
Sam McClelland – Coleraine
Barney McKeown – Portadown
Jack Scott – Linfield
Ethan Warnock – Glentoran
George Curran – Linfield
Ethan Galbraith – Linfield
Paul McAdorey – Cliftonville
Jordon McEneff – Coleraine
Lee O’Brien – Cliftonville
Andrew Whiteside – Coleraine
Christopher Conn – Glentoran
Connor Farrelly – Cliftonville
Callum Ferris – Portadown
Caolan McLaughlin – Foyle Harps
Ben Wilson - Coleraine
Much like the senior squad, Scotland’s youth football teams have had an up and down history, but not without some strong bright spots. 
Every one of these peaks at the youth level of course comes with hope that these successes will someday carry over into the national team. Whether that ends up happening or not, they still will always be great moments in Scottish football history.
Relive some of these peaks below in our list of the best Scotland youth football matches of all-time:
1963 U-18 Euros Third-Place Match: Scotland 4-2 Bulgaria
Scotland didn’t enter a team in the European Youth Championships (now the European U-19 Championships) from 1950-1962. When they returned to the stage at the 1963 tournament held in England, their performance was probably better than most expected.
In the group stage, Scotland defeated Greece and Switzerland by a combined 7-1, good enough to win the group despite a loss to Germany. A tough loss to England ensued in the semis, but there was still a chance to win bronze in the third-place match against Bulgaria. There, it was Scotland that prevailed, 4-2. 
1982 U-18 Euro Championships Final: Scotland 3-1 Czechoslovakia
The only Scottish team to win a major trophy, the U-18 lads (a division that would become U-19 in 2002) at the 1982 Euros won their group, then defeated Poland 2-0 in the semis. Their opponent in the final was Czechoslovakia, who also went undefeated in the group stage.
Scotland’s only major trophy came at the 1982 European U-18 Championships
(Picture credit: Daily Record) 
Played in Helsinki, the line-up for Scotland included many players that went on to have long and successful footballing careers, such as John Philliben, Pat Nevin, Paul McStay, Gary Mackay, and David Rennie, among others. The match finished 3-1 thanks to goals from Philliben, Mackay, and Nevin, and remains a historical win for Scottish football, even over three decades later.
1989 U-16 World Championship Semis: Portugal 0-1 Scotland
Scotland qualified automatically for the 1989 U-16 World Championships as hosts, and made the most of that free pass by finishing second in the group, qualifying for the knockout stage. A late 1-0 win over East Germany in the quarterfinals set up a semi-final showdown with Group D champions Portugal.
Paul Dickov was the only member of 1989 U-16 World Championships to make it to the full national team
(Pictured credit: Scottish Football Philosopher
The match went to half-time tied 0-0, but a Brian O’ Neill goal in the 54th gave Scotland all they needed to secure a place in the final against Saudi Arabia. There, they would lose on penalties, but the silver finish was an important one for the program. While Paul Dickov was the only member of the starting XI to go on and cap for the national team, manager Craig Brown would of course go on to become the senior selection’s longest tenured boss ever.
1992 U-21 Euros Quarterfinals: Scotland 4-3 Germany
The 1992 U-21 Euros spanned two years and also served as a qualifier for the 1992 Olympics. Despite the long format, Scotland maintained remarkable consistency in the group stage, ploughing their group of Bulgaria, Romania, and Switzerland with 5 wins, no draws, and a single loss.
In the two-legged knockout quarterfinals, Scotland drew Germany, who also won their group easily. The first leg finished 1-1, and early in the second leg it looked like Germany was the stronger side when they went up 2-0 early. But a Ray Mckinnon goal just before half inspired Gerry Creaney, Paul Lambert, and Alex Rae to all score goals of their own in a 4-3 victory. Scotland would lose a heartbreaker in the semis to Sweden, but the run was the U-21s’ best performance since 1982 and remains tied for the best today.
2013 U-16 Victory Shield: Scotland 1-0 England
Scotland went into the final match of the 2013 Victory Shield in the most exciting of circumstances. They played host to the Auld Enemy and knew victory would give them their first title for 15 years. England, in contrast, had won the competition for 12 years on the bounce. A big crowd gathered at Raith Rovers' Starks Park.
The young Scots, managed by Scott Booth, rose to the occasion with a 1-0 victory courtesy of a goal from Calvin Miller. Heroics at the other end from goalkeeper Robbie McCrorie maintained the clean sheet and ended Scotland's wait for success in the competition.
2014 U-17 Euros Group Stage: Germany 0-1 Scotland
Perhaps more than any other nation at the moment, Germany has developing youth footballing talent down to a science. So it was no surprise when the U-17 Scots were listed as 9/1 underdogs against Germany at many online sportsbooks (yes, you can wager on U17 matches, and it can be a great way to earn some side-money if you really know your youth football).  
Aberdeen’s Scott Wright scored Scotland’s only goal in their upset defeat of Germany at the 2014 U-17 Euros
(Pictured credit: Aberdeen FC)
Despite early pressure, Scotland held strong and just a minute into the second half were able to claim a goal thanks to head of Aberdeen’s Scott Wright. The Scots would hold onto the lead and win the match, eventually bowing out in the semis to the Dutch. But the tournament and the Germany win especially were positive signs that Scottish youth football is finally making strong progress once again.
Our reporter Mark Gillespie rounds up the latest failure to qualify for a major competition for our Under-21 side.
And so another Scotland side misses out on yet another finals, as the Under-21 campaign stuttered to its end on Tuesday night in Macedonia. For watchers of their senior counterparts, the race to reach next year’s Euro finals in Poland has a depressingly familiar script, as early hopes were quickly quashed long before the curtain finally came down in Skopje on Tuesday night.
It was a fourth successive goalless, pointless outcome for Scot Gemmill’s side, as a sharper, hungrier Macedonian XI booked their country’s first appearance at any major finals with an emphatic 2-0 victory. Scotland will again look on from the side lines as eastern European teams of a similar stature battle it out a major finals.
The campaign begun last September with an encouraging 2-1 victory in Northern Ireland, as Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser fired Scotland to a deserved win. A 3-1 win in the corresponding fixture at St Mirren Park in March kept Scotland’s hopes alive; a Jason Cummings double sparking a second half fight back. The wins over the Irish were to prove Scotland’s only victories of the campaign.
A 2-1 defeat to a classy French side at Pittodrie last September was to shatter any fragile optimism, as a late Billy King goal gave the result a more flattering look. By the time the Scots fell to a 2-0 defeat in the return game in March qualification hopes were already hanging by a thread.
Valuable points were also dropped at home, with Iceland frustrating the Scots in a 0-0 draw at Pittodrie last October. A month later, and Ukraine snatched a late point in a 2-2 draw at a blustery St Mirren Park. This was another game where the Scots did a lot of good things, but succumbed to sloppy defending. With only a win and a draw to show from their five home fixtures, results were beginning to tell.
And Macedonia all but sealed Scotland’s fate with a 1-0 victory at Tynecastle in September, before the wheels well and truly came off four days later with a 4-0 loss in Ukraine. Again Scotland gave a masterclass in the fine margin between success and failure. In Kiev the Scots side had good possession and controlled much of the game in the opening half, before conceding three soft second half goals. It is becoming an all too familiar tale.
Post mortems were already being conducted during the campaign, with manager Ricky Sbragia reaching his own conclusions, stepping aside after the Ukraine defeat to allow a new coach two matches to try and rebuild. Scot Gemmill took the over the reins and immediately carried out some radical surgery to the squad. With the likes of John McGinn, Calum Patterson and Ollie Burke moving up to senior level, he took the opportunity to introduce ten new faces. It was to prove a torrid introduction as they fell to a 2-0 defeat in windswept Iceland.
Time will be given to see how Gemmill’s new boys develop, as a new era gets underway. Last night’s defeat was another harsh lesson of the challenges the national team faces against previously unfancied countries, now better resourced with upcoming talent.
A new radical change in squad personnel goes hand in hand with a policy of continuity at Hampden. Gemmill has nurtured all the new players from Under-17 level through to 19s already, whilst former coach Sbragia has moved back to a coach mentoring role. The deeper concern will be how relatively few of the Under-21 crop make it all the way up to senior level, as questions continue pile up about the health of the game at national level.
Monday, 10 October 2016 22:49

Scotland v Croatia WU17 - Match Analysis

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Monday night saw Scotland girls run out comfortable winners at the Oriam Centre with a 4-0 domination, helped massively by a Morgan Cross hat-trick.


The stats didn’t lie either, as Scotland surpassed Croatia considerably in terms of shots on and off target (13 and 9 respectively), while their opponents could only muster up less than half that many opportunities, and in terms of corners, where Pauline Hamill’s side outnumbered the Croats by 4 corners.

Early on in the game Scotland began to set the tone, which, in truth, they very rarely stopped dictating throughout the match, as Croatia struggled massively to get a foothold within the contest.

The real standout feature of Scotland’s play was their high-pressing game, which penned their opponents into their own half and gave them little space to play, which they attempted quite a bit. As a result, Croatia ended up surrendering possession often throughout the first half, with Kaela McDonald being the most important player within this tactic, winning back the ball and starting up attacks more often than not.

Interestingly, you wouldn’t have expected Vera Onica’s side to be the one being bullied when in possession, due to the physical prowess of his players, but that was exactly what happened in the first-half.

In what had been a scrappy game, it took an outrageous moment of quality from Kim McAlpine to open the scoring for Scotland, when her 45-yard attempt went all the way over the goalkeeper and into the net for a deserved lead. It was the first proper chance for either side, despite not really being much of a chance itself!

The visitors weren’t exactly doing themselves many favours, sitting very deep in their own half throughout the first half, only inviting pressure every time that the hosts verged forward.

Despite the clear problems with Scotland’s pressing, Croatia remained adamant to pass it out from the back, and that directly contributed to the hosts second goal. Due to more overplaying between the defence and goalkeeper, Cross nipped in to tuck home from close range and open her account for the night. Once again, build-up play proving to be the Achilles heel for the visitors.

A more direct approach may have perhaps favoured Croatia a bit more, considering the obvious height and physicality within their ranks.

The visitors did improve however and begin to rack of their shot target in the closing ten minutes, racking up four altogether between then and half time, although most of them close from long range and failed to work Kiera Gibson in goals, as their manager frequently suggested that they adopt a “shoot on sight” policy.

When Croatia did attack, most of their breaks came from the central area, where they looked to get away through Fatjesa Gegollaj, who had looked the most likely to create something for her side.

Whereas Scotland were targeting the wide areas frequently, with the switch of play being one of their more favoured moves of the night.

The pattern continued much the same in the second-half, as Scotland switched to a highly-successful 3-4-3 formation, occasionally shifting to a diamond formation, which frequently found them filled with numbers when attacking, and often giving the Croatians plenty to worry about.

Once again, Croatia stuck by their approach and chose to build-up play starting with the goalkeeper and defence, despite the immense pressure they faced.

Croatia had a period where they looked as if they could get themselves back in the game, as Scotland could have been punished for a sloppy ten-minute spell, which saw the majority of the visitors’ efforts on goal. Despite their rallying attempt to get a goal back, the Scots managed to find their mojo again with 15 minutes left.

The sloppy passing turned into slick passing, as incisive moves carved open the Croatia defence for two late goals from Cross, to seal her well-deserved hat-trick after an accomplished performance upfront, to put the icing on the cake for Scotland.

All in all, a well-deserved, dominant win for Scotland, who outran and outclassed Croatia throughout the majority of the match. Although it was a tireless performance, there was no shortage of tactical nous and eye-catching football on display from Pauline Hamill’s side. 

Match Stats

Goals: 4
Shots on target: 13
Shots off target: 9
Corners: 4
Fouls committed: 4
Goals: 0
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 4
Corners: 0
Fouls committed: 4
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