Grand Masters

Thursday 16 September Netherlands 2 Scotland 0

Scotland set out to frustrate their opponents and were largely successful for most of the first half, dealing well with the Netherlands attacks. McIntosh, in an unaccustomed role at left back, put in a good shift, as did McNab at right back, while Auld and Chisholm restricted the Dutch forwards to only occasional shots, Leighton proving equal to any which were on target. The Scottish midfielders were closed down very quickly by the fast and eager Netherlands midline and struggled to impose themselves in a way which allowed them to feed quality ball to the forwards, who had to feed on scraps. With just over five minutes left in the first half, Netherlands opened the scoring with an incisive pass through the middle which the Dutch no 9 Jules Verheem swept past the helpless Leighton.

The second half started with the best period of Scottish play, Scotland's midfield taking command and mouting a series of attacks. Unfortunately, the quality of the final ball was lacking and most of the promising moves ended with the ball going over the goal line or with a Dutch interception. Tiredness began to creep in and a change of Dutch tactics secured the match for Netherlands. A succession of similar attacks led to the clinching goal. The Dutch right winger pulled McIntosh with him, clearing the way for a midfielder to push down the right unopposed. Auld did well to come across and cover on the first two occasions but the third time was bypassed by a quick cross from the right, which was turned in by the Netherlands no 12 Ton Blauw. Credit to Scotland, who pressed from then until the end of the game, giving as good as they got, but the match finished in a 2-0 win for Netherlands.

Saturday 18 September Italy 0 Scotland 1 (Gordon)

A goal from Peter Gordon was enough to give Scotland a first win in the tournament on a warm and sunny day in the Cape Town. The first half was a fairly even affair, with Italy having the best opportunities up front while the Scottish midfield was the more dominant in the centre of the park. As in the previous game, the quality of the final pass was lacking, and much good possession was wasted by the Scottish midfield. Italy looked sharp on the break and the Scottish defence found itself outnumbered more than once, but fortunately the Italian finishing did not match their lead up play. With 27 minutes on the clock, substitute Gordon latched on to a loose ball after Scotland finally played a good through ball into the circle and scored his first goal for his country.

Scotland's defence, which had tightened up in the latter part of the first half, continued to contain Italy and McIntosh at left back stood out for his discipline and willingness to play the simple pass to take his team out of trouble. The midfield continued to fail to take advantage of the generous space given to them by Italy. Tucker's strong running down the right was a feature but once again the final pass was intercepted or he was tackled before he could make a pass. Up front, Walter's running again troubled the Italians but Dunlop's touch had deserted him on the day. Still, Scotland won a dubious penalty when a shot which looked to be going past hit an Italian foot, the umpire resisting vociferous protests from Italy. It was probably only justice when Chisholm put the penalty past the keeper's right hand post. Italy's threat, already diminished, virtually disappeared and Scotland saw out the rest of the match comfortably to ensure victory.

Sunday 19 September 2010 Scotland 0 England 1

For a number of years, Scotland have been on the receiving end of some heavy defeats from the Auld Enemy but this was a fine display by a solid and well organised Scotland outfit whose members, to a man, stuck to their tasks and made it very difficult for their opponents to turn their almost complete dominance of possession into goals

The one blot on the landscape came after 10 minutes, when Leighton could only parry an English shot and was left on the ground leaving the following up England attacker, unmarked, an easy task toscore what turned ou to be the decisive goal. Whether it was the coming of the rain or a steely determination of the Scottish players, the pattern of the match was set from then on. The Scottish midfield, for whom Crichton and Dunbar deserve special mention, proved difficult to play through either by interpassing or, as the English became increasingly desperate, by individuals running at Scotland. The Scottish back line of McNab, Auld, Chisholm and McIntosh were heroic, and behind them keeper Leighton was immaculate, though the English forwards were wayward with their follow up shots when they managed to elude the tight marking of the Scotland defence.

The part played by the Scottish forwards should not go unreported. They had to feed on scraps and chances were rare but they did valuable work in harrying and in holding up the ball to give the defence some breathing space. A great result, particularly as England had already beaten New Zealand and Netherlands, scoring seven goals without reply.

Monday 20 September Scotland 0 New Zealand 3

Scotland failed to match the performance of the previous day with a lacklustre display against a well organised New Zealand side which dominated the whole game. The first half saw the best of the Scottish play, though only in a defensive mode. Scotland's play was punctuated with missed passes and wrong options in attack and the New Zealand defence was easily able to cope with the sporadic Scottish attacks.

The second half started in the same way but, as the Scots tired, New Zealand became more and more of a threat. The first goal came after a shot from a short corner was parried by Leighton in the Scottish goal and the rebound forced past him by te New Zealand no 15. Two more goals by Kiwi 14 rounded off the scoring to secure New Zealand's place in the play offs for 1st to 4th position, while Scotland were left to fight it out for the minor places with South Africa and Wales, the results against Netherlands and Italy being carried forward from the group stages.

Thursday 23 September Wales 1 Scotland 0

Scotland started the stronger, dominating the first two thirds of the game, but the Welsh were well used to playing against the Scots, who found it difficult to manufacture passes into the circle to an unmarked forward. In fact the best two chances of the first half fell to Wales after two mix-ups amongst the Scottish defence twice left an attacker facing Auld all on his own with keeper Leighton out of the picture. Two goal line stops by Auld, whose defensive work was oustanding throughout, kept the clean sheet.

As the game wore on and players tired, mistakes crept in and Scotland fell out of the game as an attacking force. The defence contributed to this by resorting to the long ball into spaces which contained no Scottish attacker, missing out the rapidly tiring midfield. Wales pressed more and more but Leighton in the Scottish goal once again stood firm. With five minutes left, Leighton pushed away a Welsh shot straight to the Aberdeen-based Welsh midfielder Johnson, who pushed the ball past the post. This should have been a warning but two minutes later the same thing happened again. This time, Johnson was closer in and bundled the ball over the line to claim victory for Wales.

Friday 24 September South Africa 1 Scotland 2 (Dunlop, Gordon)

Scotland finished in style after a fright when South Africa went ahead in a tight game in which the Scots for once had the bulk of possession. In the first quarter of the match, Scotland dominated, and looked to have scored when Crichton netted from a cross from the right, but the umpire at the other end had spotted a foot and the goal was ruled out. A few minutes later, South Africa shocked Scotland by taking the lead from a short corner, the shooter firing wide of the goal for an incoming attacker to deflect the ball into the net from outside the post. Scotland pressed again and Dunlop wrong footed the South African keeper with a reverse stick deflection from a through ball by Crichton to restore parity.

The play ebbed and flowed in the second half as both teams tired and spaces began to appear. Crichton, whose tireless running was a feature of the match, pushed the Scots foward but it was McIntosh who beat his opponent in the left back position and fired in a great ball which found Gordon in the circle, and the Scottish striker put an unsaveable shot past the South African keeper. South Africa responded with a period of intense pressure which had the Scots defending too deep, drawing wave after wave of attacks on them, but in the end Scotland held on for a second victory and seventh place.

Great Grand Masters

Wednesday 15 September Scotland 0 Australia 3

Scotland faced Australia in the first of their pool matches on a cool, showery day on which the weather brightened in time for the 3 pm pushback. The Scots played a cautious, defensive game and restricted their opponents's ability to create chances in the circle, though at the cost of a number of short corners. The tactic of allowing the striker a shot on goal paid off because keeper Pollard was in top form and dealt easily with the Australian shots, most of which came from a slip to the left by the stopper. Scotland's best hopes in attack came through Ree on the left wing, though his ability to penetrate the first line of the Australian defence did not result in any goalscoring opportunities as the cross ball was cut off by deep Australian defence and the cut back was not followed by a quick return into the circle. 0-0 half time.

Scotland reorganised the midfield for the second half, pushing Downie forward to mark the Australian centre midfielder Johnstone, whose distribution had helped his side dominate most of the first half. Before the effects of the change could be felt, Australia took the lead from a short corner after changing their routine to shoot wide of Pollard, an Australian forward deflecting the ball in from outside the right hand post. Scotland fought back and a drive from outside the circle by Downie took a deflection off a stick and then off the keeper before ending up in the net. It wasn't clear whether it had come off a Scottish or Australian stick but the Dutch umpire unaccountably awarded a sixteen yard hit - it had to have been either a goal or a long corner.

That was almost the end of any Scottish pressure as the Australians adapted to the Scottish midfield changes by bypassing the central route and concentrating their efforts down their left, where Ballingall put in a fine defensive display but was left with no 'out' ball so that the green and golds soon took back possession. Sweeper Bryce, who had a fine game in the first half, began to resort to long clearances which did not find a Scottish stick and helped pile on the pressure. A second short corner goal came midway through the half, virtually a mirror image of the first as it was forced in from outside the left hand post. The game looked to be ending in a respectable 2-0 scoreline when, with minutes to go, a rare Australian shot was saved by Pollard but not cleared, and the ball bounced back and forward between opposing sticks before being forced in to end the game at 3-0 for Australia.

Thursday 16 September Netherlands 3 Scotland 0

Less than 24 hours after their first game, Scotland faced more tough opposition from Netherlands, whose players, man for man, were faster, fitter and more skilful than their Scottish opponents. The game began with a flurry of Dutch attacks and a series of penalty corners, repelled by a combination of poor finishing and an alert Pollard in the Scottish goal. With the storm weathered, Scotland put together some good passing moves down the right of centre between midfielders Ballingall, Downie and Forster, once Downie and Forster had resolved who was in the best position to take a quick self pass after a couple of Dutch infringements, both ending with the two central midfielders bumping into each other in their eagerness to move the ball on quickly. However it was the Dutch who took the lead through a fierce shot from their right winger and the half ended with Netherlands 1-0 ahead.

Scotland were pressed back in the second half and rarely threatened the Netherlands defence. Still, the Scots covered well and there were few scoring opportunities to trouble Pollard. The crucial goal came midway through the half and again the Netherlands right winger had a crucial role, this time as provider, his cross being despatched past the helpless Pollard by the central striker. That would have ended the scoring but for a dubious umpiring decision at a Dutch short corner with only two minutes remaining, when the ball crossed the line well above the backboards. The Australian umpire explained that he had given a goal because the ball had been bumped into the ground, and even offered to show the relevant entry in the rules....

Sunday 19 September 2010 Germany 2 Scotland 0

After two days rest, Scotland approached this game positively and were looking to record their first win, but were undone after only three minutes when Caren at left back was left isolated with two men bearing down on him. A vital hesitation let the winger put in a simple cross which was met by an unmarked attacker to put Scotland one down.

The Scots rallied and for the remainder of the first half stood firm against a well organised German side which lacked a real cutting edge. The Germans had the bulk of play in midfield but found it difficult to shake off the close marking Scottish midfield and defence, for whon Bremner had another fine game in an unaccustomed central defensive role. Pollard was called into action from shots at a number of German short corners but coped well with all he was asked to do.

it had been noticed that Germany tended to tire easily and Scotland were much more in the game in the second half, forcing the Germans back on a number of occasions. The German goalkeeper made a wonderful save to deny Scotland a deserved goal when a slip back from Forster was fired at pace by Downie on to the stick of Mitchinson, whose deflection was heading into the top right hand corner of the net when the keeper got a hand to it to defect it past. With the Scots putting everything into finding an equaliser, Germany sealed the game with a variation at a short corner, a slip to the right leaving a German attacker an easy task of passing on to the penalty spot where there was a choice of three unmarked attackers to put in the second goal. Scotland now need a miracle to avoid finishing in fifth place in the pool.

Monday 20 September Scotland 0 England 4

Three minutes made all the difference in a game where Scotland ended looking stronger than in any of the matches so far. Scotland had set out to play a five man back line designed to stifle the English but a communication breakdown led to three quick goals, all from through balls into the circle which found an unmarked English attacker who deflected the ball past the hapless Pollard in the Scottish goal. Stephenson opened the scoring in 10 minutes, Watson added a second one minute later and captain Surridge netted on 13 minutes before Scotland were able to reorganise and stop what threatened to become a rout.

The rest of the first half settled into a pattern of English pressure and Scottish resistance, but the second half saw Scotland press forward more, though without seriously troubling the English defence. 14 minutes into the half, England increased their lead when Surridge ended a series of rebounds off Pollard's pads after a short corner by netting from close range. That was the end of the scoring, though Surridge hit the bar with another effort and the Scottish defence successfully defended a short corner after no 1 runner Bremner and then no 2 Bryce were sent to the half way line after breaking the line early, leaving post men Caren and Downie and keeper Pollard to face the English short corner attack.

The miracle did not happen and Scotland finished in fifth place in the group stages. The slate was now wiped clean and they played a round robin for places 3-5 against the two losers of the matches on 21 September: Germany and Netherlands.

Wednesday 22 September Germany 4 Scotland 0

Germany proved too strong for Scotland in a repeat of the fixture played in the group stages, and were rarely troubled by the Scots until the final stages. The first half was only eleven minutes old when Germany scored through Duckstein, and five minutes later they went two ahead through Wallosex after a short corner. A third goal from the same player came when the Germans broke through with a 2 on 1, Wallosex gratefully accepting the pass from the right to slot the ball past Pollard.

Quinger ended the game as a contest with a fourth goal in 42 minutes, but this seemed to revitalise rather than discourage Scotland, who mounted a series of attacks and forced Lehr to make a number of saves. Scotland were desperately unlucky when Bryce hit the post from a short corner with Lehr beaten. The Scots came out of the game with heads held high but again without the points.

Thursday 23 September Netherlands 4 Scotland 1

Scotland finally scored a goal in the last match of the tournament when Forster's pass from a free hit found Margerison, who fired the ball into the Dutch circle. McLernan, coming in at an angle, deflected the ball on to a Dutch stick and it looped into the net over the shoulder of the keeper. Scotland kept the game tight for nearly ten minutes before a Dutch shot from a short corner on the left went in past Pollard, who had a pulled leg muscle and was unable to stretch to stop the shot. A second followed in short order from another short corner, then a Dutch attack down the right produced a cut back which left a choice of three Netherlands attackers an easy task to net from close range.

The Scots began to tire and injuries began to take their toll in the second half, but Netherlands managed only one more goal, after a ball into the circle bounced around off keeper and sticks before being bundled in to make the final score. It had always been an uphill task for Scotland and, though they finished in fifth place, they were not disgraced.