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Senior Grand Masters International Scotland v England

Wednesday 2 March 2016 12:30 Glasgow National Hockey Centre

Scotland 0 England 0

Glasgow National Hockey Centre

Scotland, bronze medallists in last year's European Cup, took on silver medallists England at Over 70 level for the fourth time, still looking for a victory after three losses in 2015. New caps at this level went to Roy Crichton, Nigel Dixon, Alistair Philip and Doug Turner.

England started confidently but found Scotland's 3-4-3 system difficult to penetrate, Scotland having a strong spine to the team and their full backs forming an effective barrier to the English wing attacks, backed up by good tracking back by the Scotland forwards. The first quarter saw almost constant English pressure but without a clear chance on goal. The Scots found it difficult to counter, the forwards choosing to take the ball forward and lose it rather than working it back to the midfield when they found their way blocked. Scotland began to come into the match in the second quarter, with the defence under less pressure, but the ball spent most of the time in midfield and, other than a couple of short corners won by England, nothing of note happened before half time.

The half time team talk gave Manager Alan Auld and Captain David Cassell a chance to emphasise the need for ball possession and the third quarter produced a much better display from Scotland. With their first choice short corner team on the substitutes bench, they won their first and only short corner. Deputy injector Doug Turner put the ball in to deputy striker David Cassell and his flat shot was deflected upwards towards the goal, striking an English defender on the line. Instead of awarding a penalty stroke, the English umpire awarded a free hit to England for a high first shot on goal - a cruel blow to the home side. Shortly afterwards, the ball broke to Sandy Weir in the circle and his shot was deflected over the English bar for a long corner. Scotland seemed to run out of steam after these two incidents and, though the game was now stretched with England also looking tired, the Scottish midfield could not push up in support of the forwards and England started to push forward again. David Cassell was a calming influence on the Scottish defence and his ability to shepherd a forward away from the danger area was always evident. Anything which did break through was well mopped up by Nigel Dixon in goal before England could put in a shot. This quarter saw England finally put together an effective short corner, but the debutant Scottish keeper had a superb double save, diving down to block the initial shot and showing his agility by getting back on his feet to parry away the shot from the rebound.

The quarter break allowed Scotland to recall the substitutes in what was arguably their best eleven, and, with England having played a friendly match the day before and lacking their usual large complement of substitutes, the visitors showed signs of fatigue. Scotland played their best hockey during this quarter, the forwards and midfield combining effectively to keep possession of the ball and run down the clock. England did not give up but neither they nor the Scots managed to unlock the opposing defence and the match ended 0-0.

This result should put new heart into Scotland, whose next fixture is the Home International Championship at Southgate, London, on 1-3 July, when their opponents will be England and Wales.

Squad

Alan Bremner, David Cassell (Captain), Roy Crichton, Nigel Dixon (GK), Ian Downie, Andy Ferrol, David Margerison, Doug Morrice, Donald Paterson, Alistair Philip, Robbie Robertson, Alan Strachan, Colin Tucker, Doug Turner, Sandy Weir.

Manager: Alan Auld