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LUC Ronchin Supervétérans Tournament
Lille 8-10 March 2013

Scotland played in Pool B with Alliance, Eburons Tungri, (Belgium), Egypt and Zestigplussers (Netherlands). The teams finishing first and second played off with the teams finishing second and first in Pool A, the winners of each match going on to the final and the losers playing each other to decide third and fourth places. Each team finishing in positions 3-5 in Pool A played one further match against the Pool B team in the same position. Games were 25 minutes one way.

The other group included England LX, German Hawks, Supervétérans France and Wales Over 60s.

Squad (and wives)

David Ballingall
Ernie Brittain-Dodd
Ernie DiRollo
Ian Downie + Catherine
Donald Dunbar
Errol Farnan
Andy Ferrol
Colin Gallacher
Kieran McLernan + Joan
Donald Paterson
Glenn Paton + Anne
Dick Pearce + Eileen
Peter Robertson
Jim Watson

On the first day, the Scots faced the two Low Countries squads, Eburons Tungri (Belgium) and Zestigplussers (Netherlands). Gallacher's goal separated the two sides in the first match, though a 5-0 score for Thistles in a one-sided encounter would not have surprised anyone. Another 1-0 result against the Dutch left Scottish Thistles on top of the group on 8 points (2 wins and 2 goals) at the end of the day. A great goal by Watson in the closing stages of a game in which the Scots dominated was a fitting reward for their good play.

Keeper Pearce in action v Egypt
Pearce flat out repelling an Egyptian attack

Saturday 9 March saw Scottish Thistles record another two 1-0 results against Alliance and Egypt to top the group with 16 points, ahead of Egypt on 14 points. Alliance provided a sterner test against a less convincing Thistles outfit than the previous day but Gallacher secured the points in the finishing stages. Watson scored early against Egypt who responded strongly but the Scots withstood the challenge to claim top spot from their opponents, for whom a draw would have been enough for top place in the group.

On the last day, Scottish Thistles faced the Auld Enemy England LX in one semi final, while Wales, group A winners, took on Egypt - an exact repeat of the 2012 last four matches. Wales Over 60s squeezed through 1-0 against Egypt and the same result was on the cards for England LX until, with 18 seconds to go, Gallacher hit the English keeper with a shot and roofed the rebound to equalise. Unfortunately Thistles fared less well in the penalty shoot out, the English keeper guessing correctly and saving the last two Scottish flicks, and Pearce in the Thistles goal being unable to keep out any of the English flicks. A repeat encounter with Egypt to settle 3rd and 4th places awaited in the afternoon. Neither side was able to dominate and the matched ended goalless. In a spirit of goodwill, the teams agreed to share third place. All in all, President McLernan's men put up a great show over the weekend, emerging undefeated. Colin Gallacher was top scorer on three with Jim Watson close behind with two goals.


Friday 8 March

15:45 Eburons Tungri 0 Scottish Thistles 1 (Gallacher)

Thistles played some excellent hockey, fielding an attacking 3-4-3 formation in which right back Paton was prominent as an overlapping full back. Midfield belonged to the Scots and the Belgian defence was under constant pressure. Chances were created and spurned, with Thistles shooting mostly off target, until Gallacher picked up a loose ball which had come off a Belgian foot and put the ball past Herbert in the Belgian goal for what proved to be the winning goal.

13:00 Zestigplussers 0 Scottish Thistles 1 (Watson)

In increasingly wet conditions, Scottish Thistles once again played some great hockey but found the Dutch defence impenetrable to balls fired directly into the circle. Scots who attempted to dribble through found their way blocked by robust challenges from Zestigplussers but none of the ensuing short corners was converted. It took a special moment to give Thistles the win. Paton cleared up a rare Dutch attack at right back and fired an overhead pass up the wing, where the waiting defender missed the bounce and Paterson picked the ball up, feeding it to Robertson who had moved up from sweeper. Robertson's firm cross eluded the keeper and was met by Watson coming at the far post to net from close range.

Saturday 9 March

11:20 Alliance 0 Scottish Thistles1 (Gallacher)

Thistles looked a more disjointed outfit on the Saturday morning, pressing hard on the Alliance defence but failing to find the final pass which would have led to the breakthrough. With the midfield pushing up, Scottish Thistles were caught out on occasion by Alliance hitting long balls out of defence to their forwards who played high to keep the Scottish back three occupied.. Once again it was Gallacher to the rescue from a short corner after Paton slipped the ball left for Gallacher to put the ball behind the Alliance keeper. Alliance nearly snatched a draw with two minutes to go when two players, completely unmarked at the far post, managed to misss a cross from the right by getting in each other's way.

16:00 Scottish Thistles 1 (Watson) Egypt 0

Scottish Thistles, needing a goal to qualify for the semi finals and a win to go through in top spot, pressed in the early stages, taking the game to their opponents. Scottish nerves were partly settled when Watson, coming in at the left hand post after injecting at a short corner, turned Paton's shot past the Egyptian goalkeeper. Egypt's skilful central midfield responded strongly, running at their opponents and indulging in some over robust challenges which were well spotted by the umpires, but the Scots withstood the barrage to claim top spot from their opponents, for whom a draw would have been enough for top place in the group.

On the final day, Scottish Thistles face the Auld Enemy England LX in one semi final, while Wales Over 60s, group A winners, take on Egypt - an exact repeat of the 2012 last four matches.

Sunday 10 March

09:00 Wales Over 60s 1 Egypt 0

09:35 Scottish Thistles 1 (Gallacher) England LX 1

The semi final was an open game, with Scottish Thistles using short passing and England LX making good use of long, accurate balls to try to pry apart the Scottish defence, though it was not under any real pressure. The same could be said of the English defence where constant Scottish probing could not find any weak spots. The breakthrough, when it came, was for England LX, whose only short corner after the ball hit a Scottish foot was clinically despatched past Pearce. The English attempted to play out the rest of the match but were thwarted with only eighteen seconds left. Paton disposessed an opposing midfielder and found Peter Robertson on the left hand side of the circle. Robertson's cross found Gallacher in front of goal. Gallacher's shot rebounded back to him off the English keeper and he slammed the ball high into the roof of the net to send the match into a penalty decider. Instead of the expected shoot out, the umpires ruled that the match would be decided on penalty flicks. Two of the Scots' attempts were saved and the English were in the final.

3rd/4th Place Final Egypt 0 Scotland LX 0

Scottish Thistles adopted a more cautious approach in the second meeting of the two sides, with the aim of neutralising the Egyptian playmaker, who had set up a number of dangerous attacks in the first match. While this strategy was a success in terms of reducing the pressure on the Scottish rearguard, it made it more difficult for Thistles to exert the pressure they had imposed on all the other sides they had met. Brittain-Dodd, playing as an emergency right back, put up a very good performance, ably supported by Farnan and substitute di Rollo at left back, with the result that any through balls which made it into the Scottish circle were mopped up by the defence. Up front, resolute Egyptian defending kept Thistles at bay and the match ended goalless. The two sides agreed to share third place to show goodwill between our countries rather than going to penalties.