Scotland’s chances of winning the hummel Centenary Shield are officially over following a late 3-1 defeat to England at Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld.
Despite a performance that the youthful side can take pride in, the result sealed their fate in the 2023 hummel Centenary Shield, with victors England still competing with Wales to finish the campaign as champions.
The visitors took an early lead in the home of Cumbernauld Colts as winger Sam Johnston finished a tidy English move to give his side the lead. England won the ball halfway into the Scottish half, and the build-up play was too quick for the defence to cope with. Luke Salter played Johnston through to toe-poke the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Corey Armour and deliver the perfect start for his team.
The English lead would only last a matter of minutes, however, as Nathan Cannon was able to find an equaliser for Scotland to bring the game level. Cannon, who plays for Scottish League One side Alloa Athletic, latched onto the end of a long ball from Ricky Waugh from his own half, and to the surprise of the English defence, breached the attempted offside trap and had more than enough time and space to comfortably dispatch the ball past Jasper Shiek in the English net.
In typical Scotland vs England fashion, the venom behind the tackles started to ramp up, and the unsettling tactics began to come to the fore following the leveller from the hosts. The referee kept his cards in his pocket for the remainder of the first half, which began to teeter out, as the visiting side became slightly hesitant with the ball in the final third when they were met with the resilient Scottish defence.
On the stroke of half-time, England had arguably the biggest chance following the goals, when the aforementioned Salter got a shot away after a couple of stepovers in the Scotland penalty area. His attempt was pushed away by Armour and the sound of three loud whistles brought the first half to a close.
Scotland began the second half a lot brighter than their Southern counterparts, when five minutes into the half, Callum Hannah had his half-volley from the edge of the box deflected over the bar. The Scottish side looked more comfortable in possession and there was a confidence that had been missing in the first half to create chances, but the English defence stood up to the challenge successfully.
Scotland’s magic moment of the match came through a save made by Armour to keep the scores at the time level. England kept a corner kick on the ground which caught Scotland off guard. The pass turned into a cross, and the power generated through Salter’s volley looked enough to beat any goalkeeper, yet Armour was able to turn the effort over his crossbar.
England thought they had made the breakthrough from the resulting corner when goalscorer Johnston tapped the ball in from close range, however, the linesman flagged for offside. Replays indicate that although it was a tight call, he made the right decision.
Scottish substitute Lewis Downie came on with around ten minutes to go and looked set to be the difference-maker. A couple of attempts in close succession acted as a warning to Shiek who was not overly threatened by either, but it was clear Downie had injected more energy into the Scotland frontline.
It was an English substitute though, that made the difference. Ben Wodskou came on just before Downie and was brought down in the box by Daniel Mason-Bone, who just accidentally caught the forward’s leg as he went to pull the trigger, resulting in the visitors being awarded a spot-kick just minutes before the regulation period was over. Wodskou stepped up to take the penalty, and he never looked like missing as he placed the ball into the bottom right corner.
England doubled their lead a minute into added time when Johnston received the ball in acres of space from Salter once more, and he opted for power over placement and smashed the ball once again through the legs of Armour in the Scottish goal who must have been having De Ja Vu from the opener.
Defeat for Scotland brought their hopes of Centenary Shield success to an end for 2023 at least, as England won three well-earned points. They will aim to beat Wales to hummel Centenary Shield glory with a win against Northern Ireland who they host at Billericay Town on Friday 14th April.
Scotland Player of the Match: Aaron Nicholson
The forward Nicholson a handful for the English defence and excelled in his duty to drag defenders out wide to provide space to aim at for his crosses, as well as coming close on one or two occasions to a goal.
Republic of Ireland Player of the Match: Sam Johnston
Despite missing a chance that could have proved to be the difference in this contest, the Irish player of the match award goes to Connor Bonner. Bonner’s deliveries were devastating, particularly in the first half, and he maintained a threat before being substituted in the second. His glowing form at the international and academy level for Dundalk means we could see more of Bonner in the not-so-far future.
Scotland U18 Schoolboys
12. Corey Armour (GK)
2. Jamie Carnihan
3. Callum Hannah
4. Andrew Miller
6. Nathan Smith
9. Aaron Nicholson
10. Ricky Waugh
11. Nathan Cannon (‘79)
14. Ruaridh Cant (‘57)
15. Daniel Mason-Bone (‘68)
16. Calum Gemmel
1. Ethan Mitchell (GK)
5. Harriss Clubb (‘57)
17. Lewis Downie (‘79)
18. Jayden Mcgivern (‘68)
Republic of Ireland U18 Schoolboys
1. Jasper Shiek (GK)
2. Harvey Smith
3. Tyrese Hughes (‘65)
4. Jacob Towns
5. George Wilkinson
6. Laiith Fairnie
7. Sam Johnston
10. Oscar Fletcher (‘76)
11. Oliver Fraser
14. Luke Salter
18. Rio Joisce (‘65)
9. Ben Wodskou (‘65)
12. Jack Bostock (‘65)
15. James Taylor
16. Jay Sangha (‘76)
17. Arran Cocks
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