Scotland began their 2023 hummel Centenary Shield campaign with a well-earned point against visiting opponents the Republic of Ireland in a 0-0 stalemate at New Western Park, home of Renfrew F.C.
The young Scots did not give the visiting side a moment to rest in the opening half, taking throw-ins and set pieces almost immediately, hoping to capitalise on any Irish lapse of concentration. However, it was the team from the Emerald Isle who had the better chances in the first half.
Shortly before the ten-minute mark, Ireland midfielder Callum Bonner floated a corner into the Scotland penalty area, where it was met by the left foot of international and Dundalk Academy teammate Senan Mullen, who had his goal-bound volley cleared away a yard from the goal line by Scotland defender Jamie Carnihan.
Almost five minutes later, Bonner almost copied and pasted his delivery from the corner prior, which was this time met by centre-half Niall Holohan, who came even closer to scoring than Mullen, this time hitting the crossbar from the six-yard line.
These were warning signals of the Ireland gameplan, with Bonner terrorising the Scottish defence with his devastating deliveries and making them work ever so hard to protect trailing at the break.
Minutes before the referee blew for the interval, provider Bonner almost turned goal scorer. A loose header in the middle of the Scottish half went in the direction of the Scots’ goal, seeing Bonner escape left-back Callum Hannah and race one-on-one with goalkeeper Ethan Mitchell.
Bonner got the finish all wrong, opting for power over placement which saw his effort sail over the bar. This was the closest the Irish got to going ahead in the first period of play.
In between Ireland’s attempts at breaking the deadlock, Scotland tried their best to maintain their non-stop style of football, which became increasingly difficult to continue. The clear needle between the sides started to become more apparent, with many pushes following tackles and players fighting for any sort of mental advantage over their counterparts.
The referee kept his cards in his pockets, that was until shortly after the restart however, when Scotsman Ricky Waugh went in late on Eoin Kenny as he raced down the left flank. The Hibs academy player received a caution for his challenge, which epitomised the nature of the game up to this point.
Scotland caused more problems for the Irish side in the second half, with striker Aaron Nicholson having a cross from outside of the left of the penalty area sail through into the second six, where it was knocked away by the Irish defence.
Scotland again showed glimpses of what they could do, with a characteristic quick corner creating a chance for them to move into the box. However, Ireland’s right back cancelled out any danger with a strong but fair standing challenge on Waugh which kept the scores level.
Scotland had the best of the chance of the second half; however, this didn’t present itself until stoppage time, where Carnihan lobbed a bouncing ball back into the danger zone, and captain Harris Clubb had his half-volley blocked by the omnipresent Irish rock Holohan to essentially ensure his side left Renfrew with a point on the board.
It could have been all three though, as with the last kick of the ball, the last chance of the game threw us back to the very first, as Dundalk’s Senan Mullen brought down an aerial pass and put Scottish hearts in mouths with a fierce left-footed volley, which hit the side netting to Mitchell’s right-hand side.
Whilst both sides will believe they could have won the game, they will be equally as happy that they leave with a point. In a game in which neither side wanted to lose, it became a scarier prospect to attack and let the others win. Strong defending was the theme of this game, and both teams will take confidence from the opening fixture into the remainder of their hummel Centenary Shield matches.
Scotland Player of the Match: Nathan Cannon
Cannon, who is on the books at Scottish League One side Alloa Athletic, had a dazzling display from left midfield, often using flair to beat opponents and his ability to pick a man out was deserving enough to win any game. He will be hoping to maintain this form to be in contention for further call-ups and could potentially prove to be a future asset to ‘The Wasps’ at club level.
Republic of Ireland Player of the Match: Callum Bonner
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
1. Ethan Mitchell
2. Andrew Miller
3. Callum Hannah
4. Andrew Miller
5. Harris Clubb (C)
6. Nathan Smith
8. Martin Campbell
9. Aaron Nicholson
10. Ricky Waugh
11. Nathan Cannon
18. Jayden McGivern
12. Corey Armour
7. Joe Prior
14. Ruairidh Cant
15. Daniel Mason-Bone
16. Calum Gemmell
Republic of Ireland U18 Schoolboys
1. Ryan Delaney
2. Jonathan Adedeji
3. Jesse Dempsay
4. Eli Rooney
5. Niall Holohan
6. Senan Mullen
7. Callum Bonner
8. Aaron Healy (C)
9. Peter Grogan
11. Eoin Kenny
15. Aidan Russell Vargas
10. Rhys Kelly Noonan
12. Adam O’Halloran
13. Ryan McBrearty
14. Brian Cunningham
15. Daithi Forlan
/ 3 weeks ago
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