Senior Grand Masters International - England 8 Scotland 0
Maiden Castle Sports Centre, Durham 7 March 2018
Scotland travelled to Durham with a squad of fourteen players for the annual England-Scotland Over 70 international on Wednesday 7 March 2018. Preparations for the match were hindered by the snowy weather of the previous week, and the match took place only after snow had been cleared off the pitch. Durham University have first call on the pitch and at the last minute stole the pitch booking, the push back having to be brought back an hour. With most of the Scotland squad due to arrive by train for a 2 pm start, the change was unwelcome but manageable. However the train on which three quarters of the squad were travelling was delayed and only four players were on the pitch at the appointed start time.
The remaining players arrived in time for a brief warm up before the match started, not the best preparation for a match against a side sporting "European Champions" on their track suits. Scotland held out for the first few minutes but were under intense pressure and England took advantage to score twice during the first quarter. The second quarter produced only one goal for England and the half ended 3-0 in favour of the hosts. Any hopes of a second half recovery were dsahed when England scored in the first minute after the restart, adding a further two goals to finish the third quarter with a six goal advantage. Two more goals in the final quarter left England clear winners and Scotland wondering where to go from where they were.
On the positive side, Scotland at times played some good, passing hockey and never gave up. Colin Tucker was prominent on the right wing, his strong running causing his opponent at times to resort to ungentlemanly tactics to stop him. Unfortunately none of the Scots front men was able to connect with Colin's crosses. In the end, all the Scottish attacks ended with England's regaining possession. Scotland did have one real chance of a consolation goal in the final quarter, when Norrie Springford picked up a pass and rounded the English keeper. With a defender in position and a tight angle for a shot, Norrie cut the ball back to Roy Crichton at the top of the circle, but unfortunately his fluffed effort missed the goal and the chance was gone.
Post match, the feeling was that the margin between the teams was not as great as the score suggests. Most of the English goals came from their pouring men into the Scottish circle and overwhelming the Scottish back three when the Scottish midfield failed to track their men. To be fair, the individual skills of the English attackers were plainly very good, though the failure of the umpire to penalise Greg Hutchings for backing into his man contributed to the size of the England total. It was suggested that the team should spend some time on positioning and team structure as it was clear that Scotland had no answer to the English style of play, and were far too prone to make the wrong decisions and hand back the initiative to their opponents.
It is to be hoped that Scotland will have learned from this experience and will reorganise and improve in time for the Celtic Cup in April.
Alan Auld, Alex Cathro, Roy Crichton, Ian Downie, Nigel Dixon, Andy Ferrol, David McIntosh, Kieran McLernan (Captain), David Margerison, Duncan Mitchell, Doug Morrice, Norrie Springford, Colin Tucker, Sandy Weir [Coach Murray Paton added Alan Auld to the originally selected squad and Alan Bain had to withdraw through injury]
Coach/Manager Dougie Turner