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Tremendous trio in Albania as Scotland Women’s U19s make it a hat-trick of wins

After a dominant first two performances, Michael McArdle and Scotland’s U19 Women were looking to make it three in a row. However, with Albania also starting Group B2 strong with two wins for two, it was going to be a hard shift for both teams.

From the whistle, Scotland pressed high, exploiting the space on the wings, just as they had done on Saturday. With Austin and Connolly-Jackson linking up beautifully, Albania were having to work hard to move side to side with the Scots.

Kreshnik Krepi’s side wasted no time getting forward, picking up any of Scotland’s loose passes, with Ndoj chasing down every through ball.

Ten minutes in and still dominating possession, Scotland’s Fallon Connolly-Jackson was in acres of space down her left-hand side and took it all in her stride. She flew past two Albanian players, only to be unfortunately brought down by the second, Qosja and awarded a free kick. The delivery was spot on, but the Albanian defence were on their toes and had it cleared in no time. It was picked up by Scotland’s Lisa Forrest in the midfield, but just as quickly as it was won, Albania’s Ndoj was there to pinch it. Forrest turned and chased the Albanian attacker, but ultimately brought her down for the second foul within 60 seconds.

With both teams aiming to break the deadlock, Albania’s Qosja was taking on any Scottish player in her path to goal, with considerable skill in one vs one situations.

Similarly, it was a midfield masterclass from Scotland’s Clare Goldie; dropping into the back line and creating gaps in Albania’s formation, allowing Connolly-Jackson to stretch her legs and fire passes into the front line.

Scotland’s Mia McAuley was a defender’s worst nightmare. She was weaving her way through the Albanian back lineup until just shy of 20 minutes when she was brought down on the edge of the box by Methoxha. The free kick was again delivered into prime position, but not met by any of McLeary’s compatriots.

It was nearly Scotland who took the lead before half-time when both Goldie and Burchill had shots on goal, only to be denied by saves from Mone.

A fiery first half ended with it all to play for in the second 45 minutes.

Scotland started the second half strongly, with lots of excellent passages of play between the defence and midfield. Albania’s defence was solid again and allowed little room for Scotland’s strikers. It was Eilidh Austin who had the first shot on goal with a lovely strike from the right-hand side, just going over the bar.

Scotland’s Ferguson and Finnie are a dream pairing at the back. Alongside clearing any danger that comes their way, they are able to play passes into the wide areas to create opportunities to attack.

The first goal of the game came in the 56th minute from Scotland’s Jodi McLeary, who hit a wonderful strike from outside the 18-yard box.

Only minutes later, it was nearly an assist from McLeary as she chipped a ball across the box just missing Connolly-Jackson at the back post. Albania were sitting deep, allowing Scotland to pass the ball, shifting from side to side.

An hour into the game came the second goal for Scotland. With Goldie finding space in the midfield, she drove through and found the feet of teammate Tiree Burchill on the edge of the box who turned and played in Brodie Greenwood. Greenwood struck the ball with her right foot and over the Albanian goalkeeper to make it 2-0 Scotland.

After a battle near the corner flag between two of Albania’s attacks, Scotland came out on top, finding Lisa Forrest in space. She dribbled the ball with ease to the halfway line where she played a beautiful lofted pass to Mia McAuley who had timed her run to perfection. Distracted by a defender and the Albanian goalkeeper, her first shot hit the post, but Mia made sure to follow it up and with her left foot slotted it into the net.

The remainder of the game was played mainly in Scotland’s final third, however, this should not dismiss the work rate and effort from the Albanian players who gave it everything to the final whistle.

It is a superb run of form for the Scottish youngsters who win the group and are promoted to League A for the next qualifying campaign.

Scotland U19s

1. Ava Easdon

2. Eilidh Austin

4. Maddie Finnie

14. Jenna Ferguson

3. Fallon Connolly-Jackson

6. Brodie Greenwood

11. Jodie McLeary

8. Clare Goldie

7. Mia Mcaulay

15. Tiree Burchill

9. Lisa Forrest

Substitutions

12. Beth Rennie

5. Aimee Black

10. Kayla Jardine

13. Rachel Murchie

16. Mason Clark

17. Niamh Noble

18. Georgia Gray

19. Eloise Morran

20. Mya Bates

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