WGMA European Cup Neuss 22-26 August 2011 - Fixtures and Results

Grand Masters Pool B

Monday 22 August

Belgium 2 Scotland 0

Scotland started brightly against the Belgians, who were competing for the first time at full international level. For the first fifteen minutes, they passed the ball well and more than matched their opponents, but from then on Belgium had the upper hand. The Scottish team lost its shape and, instead of building up through the middle, started to force the game through long balls, which were easily picked up by the technically skilled Belgians. The first goal came after just over 20 minutes, when the ball hit a Scottish foot and looped up in the air. While the Scots froze waiting for the whistle, the Belgian forwards pressed on, leaving Leighton exposed in the Scottish goal.

The second half continued in the same vein, with Scotland increasingly confining the play to only three channels and lacking in width. The second goal was again avoidable - a defender playing the ball on his reverse stick on the 22 straight to a Belgian. Seconds later, the ball was in the net. The game finished with the score 2-0 in favour of the debutants.

Tuesday 23 August

Scotland 0 England 12

The Scotland formation was designed to frustrate the English and, for the first quarter of an hour, it was successful in preventing England from scoring. At this point, England's tactics changed and they started to run with the ball at the Scottish defence. Faster and more skilful than their opponents, the English midfield players carved their way through the Scottish defence, setting up chances for their forwards and picking up the second ball. In spite of heroics by keeper Leighton, goal after goal went in, the half time score being 5-0.

In the second half, the Scots tired, hampered by injuries which prevented effective use of substitutes, and ended up defending in a line, with no depth to the formation. Sadly, the score went into double figures as the game neared its end and England continued to press for more goals - final score 12-0.

Wednesday 24 August

Italy 4 Scotland 1 (Duguid - pen)

The great mystery in this match was how a team with 60% of the possession could contrive to lose by four goals to one. Scotland started the game well, with slick interpassing and a better team spirit than had been evident in previous matches. However much of the play was in midfield and the Italian defence was well marshalled to repel the Scottish forwards. Totally against the run of play, Italy were awarded a penalty for a stick tackle on their dangerous captain and central defender and duly converted to take Italy to half time with a 1-0 lead.

There were no signs of panic from Scotland, who continued to move the ball about well, though again with a lack of cutting edge in the circle. However Duguid finally broke the Scottish scoring duck with a well taken penalty given for a push in the circle. This should have been the signal for Scotland to go on and win the game but as tiredness crept in, passes started to go astray and the Italians capitalised with three breakaway goals to end up comfortable 4-1 winners.

Grand Masters Play Off/Final Matches

Friday 26 August

Wales GM 2 Scotland GM 1 (Gordon)

As with their GGM compatriots, Scotland reserved their best performance for the last match, playing off for positions 5-7. The task facing them was virtually impossible because of goal difference, but the motivation to record a first victory was high. With a number of players carrying injuries, the whole squad had to play its part and everyone contributed to the best team effort of the tournament. As always in Scotland-Wales matches, there was very little between the teams but it was Wales which scored the vital first goal two thirds of the way through the first half. Scotland continued to play well, though the gaps which appeared in the tiring Welsh midfield were not exploited by their direct opponents, the Scottish deep midfielders regularly failing to follow up good work by the forwards and higher lying midfielders.

The second half continued in the same vein, but with Wales pressed back more and more, as usual looking threatening on the break, when Leighton was equal to everything fired at him. Scotland's inability to find the cutting pass or to manufacture a short corner was frustrating, even more so when a Welsh forward found himself unmarked in the circle and beat the despairing Leighton. Scotland raised their game and finally scored from open play when Gordon finished off a good move to make the score 2-1. The same player was desperately unlucky after taking the ball around the Welsh keeper when his flick was cleared off the line by a Welsh defender. The game ended in a 2-1 loss, leaving Scotland in last place.

3rd/4th Final Germany GM 8 Belgium GM 1

Final England GM 2 Netherlands GM 1

Great Grand Masters (Round Robin)

Monday 22 August

Germany 3 Scotland 1(Cassell)

Scotland Over 65s opened their account with a 3-1 loss to the hosts in Neuss. The Germans started strongly and pressed down their right flank, but the Scottish defence was equal to all that was thrown at them. A tactical rearrangement plugged the gap and the Scots began to come more into the game, with Walter and Tucker harrying the opposing defence. However a dreadful umpiring decision handed Germany the lead when the umpire awarded a penalty for a supposed stick tackle by Cassell when the German forward had completely missed the ball and his stick struck Cassell's one the follow through. Keeper Pearce had no chance from Wallosek's well taken stroke.

Scotland pushed Ballingall forward into midfield in the second half, with an immediate, positive effect. Ballingall's mobility and willingness to link with Downie in the centre of midfield produced a succession of ball into the circle, though the best they had to show for their sustained pressure was a succession of short corners. Walter was deprived of a goal by the same umpire who had awarded the 'penalty' gave a long corner when his deflection of a hard drive into the circle came off a German stick and into the goal. However, disaster struck when Scotland lost possession in midfield and Germany pressed forward into the circle. The defence cleared the ball to the edge of the 22 but once again the Germans pickpocketed the Scottish defender and found Wallosek in the inside right channel, from where he drove the ball into the net for his second goal.

Worse was to come when a German forward was allowed to drive in along the goal line from the right. Di Rollo was in position to intercept the cross but could only deflect the ball on to his own foot, the rebound being picked up and despatched into the net for a third goal for the hosts. Bryce had a net bound shot from a short corner brilliantly saved before he was substituted, Cassell taking his place as striker, and the Scottish sweeper finally found the net with a well taken shot from another short corner. Scotland finished the match on top but couldn't find the goals to equalise and ran out rather unlucky losers.

Tuesday 23 August

Scotland 0 England 9

Virtually the only redeeming feature in this match was the fact that England failed to reach double figures. Scotland's plan to negate the English threat down the right backfired on them and England were two up within five minutes after poor marking left forwards in the clear in the circle. Two more goals from short corners left the Auld Enemy leading 4-0 at half time. Scotland reorganised at half time and for the first ten minutes of the half they managed to hold their own, even managing a couple of short corners. However once again Unforced errors led to goal after goal, Stowell being the main beneficiary from open play, the other goals coming from short corners, where England's ability to switch the ball around the circle caused confusion in the Scottish defence. 9-0 is the worst result the over 65s have ever had and it hurt.

Wednesday 24 August

Netherlands 6 Scotland 1 (Bryce)

This was a better display against a strong Dutch side, Scotland competing very well in spite of the score, which included two penalties. Tucker was assigned a marking role against the free Netherlands midfielder and succedded in nullifying the threat from that quarter, to the extent that his opponent was given a green card, and refused to shake hands with his opponent at the end of the match. However the threat from a potent Netherlands attack was always there, esecially given that captain Auld was not able to play because of concussion after a clash of heads the previous day against England. Scotland at least had the consolation of scoring from a well taken Bryce short corner.

Thursday 25 August

Scotland 4 (McLernan, Walter, Crichton,Tucker) Italy 1

Scotland saved the best for last against an Italian side which had the potential to take the match but were never allowed into the game until the Scottish defence was caught napping in the final minutes to rob Pearce of a shut out. Scotland's midfield took charge immediately from the early morning pushback, with Ballingall controlling the centre of midfield and Downie linking well with him to feed the forwards a string of telling passes. The first goal came when good work down the right found McLernan clear in the circle, his firm shot beating the excellent keeper just inside the post. After 20 minutes, Weir came on as a substitute and his first touch was a fierce shot which was probably just going past the left hand post when Walter appeared to deflect it into the net. This had been the best half played by the team during the whole tournament, everyone playing his part, closing down opponents, moving into spaces and playing firm, accurate passes.

Italy took the opportunity of half time to regroup, and Scotland lost some of its shape at the beginning of the half with the game being played mainly in Scotland's left hand defensive quarter. Determined tackling kept Italy at bay but Scotland stopped feeding the midfield and switching the ball to the right, with the result that the ball came straight back from clearances. After 10 minutes of Italian pressure with no result, Scotland gradually regained the lost shape and once more took command. A sweeping move involving half the team ended with Crichton netting with a fine shot to make it three. The final goal was a little bizarre; it started with Downie attempting to stop a hard clearance from Bryce and deflecting it straight to Tucker, who was already moving at speed down the right. Tucker took the ball to the goal line and cut it back, missing both of the Scottish players waiting in the circle. Instead the ball went straight to an Italian defender who promptly buried the ball in the back of the net past his helpless keeper. The Italian consolation goal came through a breakaway when the left winger drifted behind his marker, picked up a through pass and squared to another unmarked forward standing on the penalty spot - the only flaw in a masterful performance by the Scotland defence.

Fourth place in the tournament was the reward for a fine effort by the whole squad, and who knows what could have happened had the luck not gone against the Scots in the first match against Germany, who finished in third place, well behind England and Netherlands. England won the tournament on goal difference.