Scotland and Northern Ireland’s Under-21 sides played out a 1-1 draw at the SMISA stadium in Paisley.
Flynn Clarke opened the scoring for Scotland with a composed finish, but it wasn’t long before Dale Taylor emphatically scored the leveller.
Northern Ireland started the match with most of the possession, but were caught on the counter by Scotland. Matthew Craig took the ball for a driving run through the midfield, and laid it off for Connor Smith, who played an inch perfect ball for Clarke to slide home on his left foot.
Taylor crafted a brilliant opportunity for himself immediately after his side went behind, beating the Scotland skipper, Leon King for strength and pace. King and Scotland would breathe a huge sigh of relief as Jay Hogarth made himself big to save the one on one.
Northern Ireland would soon have an equaliser, and it was Taylor who atoned for his earlier miss. Christopher McKee went on a purposeful run down the left past Adam Devine, and crossed for the number nine who finished high into the net from close range.
Hamilton loanee Lucas De Bolle was next in line to go close, as the ball was set up for him on the edge of the box with plenty of time and space. Most in attendance thought that the young Scot’s effort had flown in, but it ended up narrowly past the post.
Following the restart, both teams were competing for the ball in the middle of the park. McKee fired a shot over the bar for Northern Ireland, and Smith narrowly missed the post for Scotland. The deadlock continued.
The introduction of Ben Doak to the match breathed new life into the game. The Liverpool youngster went on a mazy run past several Northern Ireland jerseys and drilled in a ball for Tommy Conway, who saw his finish thwarted by Doyle.
The game concluded in a draw, with both teams appearing evenly matched on the day. Scotland manager, Scott Gemmill claimed to be optimistic after the team’s performance, and praised Flynn Clarke for his first international goal at this age level.
Players of the match
Scotland: Connor Smith
Despite being taken off midway through the first half, Smith was undoubtedly the standout in terms of creativity for Scotland. He notched himself an assist, and performances like these will do him a world of good in terms of the confidence required to break into the Hearts first team.
Northern Ireland: Dale Taylor
The Nottingham Forest man had a performance to be proud of. He was a constant thorn in the side of the Scotland defence and on another day could have had more to show for it.
Scotland: Ben Doak made an instant impact after coming on off the bench and took on what seemed like half the Northern Ireland team to square for Conway, who was unlucky to see his attempt saved.
Northern Ireland: Dale Taylor’s finish was clinical, but Northern Ireland’s equaliser was all about the run and cross from Christopher McKee to make the goal possible.
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