Scotland 3 – 1 USA
Scotland, today, hosted the United States men’s hockey team, at the Glasgow Green Hockey Centre In the first of a three game test series. There was a fair sized crowd in the stadium and a kilted bagpiper brought out the two teams who played a warmly received rendition of Flower of Scotland, during the national anthems.
The action got underway early on. Scotland took the lead, with an attack down the right hand side. Gavin Byers, of Grove Menzieshill Hockey Club, scored a far post shot after 4 minutes and 30 seconds of play in the first quarter. This one goal lead only lasted a short while, as the Americans found a gap in the Scottish half court press. The hosts struggled to deal with an aerial pass to the American right wing. A pass was then slipped into the ‘D’ and in the seventh minute Alexander Grassi was able to find space to score with their first shot on goal.
Scotland replied quickly. An attack down the right wing, lead to the ball being moved into the central channel. A through ball was played to the top of the ‘D’ and was picked up by the match day captain Gordon McIntyre. The American keeper Johnathan Klages had to commit to the ball carrier and McIntyre managed to stretch to perform a sweep pass to the left for the Scottish number 15 to score after seven and a half minutes. With 30 seconds remaining on the first quarter the Scots come down the right hand side again, flashing a shot across the goal, eventually sending the ball out for a 16 yard hit. The first quarter finishes two goals to one for the hosts.
Two minutes into the second quarter the Scots get the first short corner of the game, which is blocked at the top of the ‘D’, leading to a second and then a third short corner. This leads to a shot hitting the post, allowing the Americans to lead a counter attack towards the opposite end of the pitch. The tourists unleash a firm shot towards Gordon Alexander in the Scottish goal, forcing him to make a big save from his right leg pad. This is his first action since the goal from the one and only previous shot against him thus far and he does well.
The Americans move the ball forward at pace and also play quite a high press and manage to force the Scottish ball carriers into a couple of mistakes and also for the Scots to play passes sideways and backwards. Unfortunately, they are unable to capitalise on this tactic and in the tenth minute the Scots get a fourth and then a fifth short corner. The fourth is a variation that is played out to their right hand side and hits a defenders foot for the fifth corner. This is then hit straight at the American keeper, allowing for an easy save.
As half time approaches the USA captain, Asai Dhadwal, took a ball to the face, after a 50/50 challenge with Gordon McIntyre and decided to take a rest. The second quarter finishes as the first did, with the Scotland team beating the USA two goals to one.
It takes eight minutes and 30 seconds for the next major talking point to occur in the third quarter. Scotland get another short corner. Gavin Byers injects and this time another variation. The first castle plays the ball back to where it came from, aiming for a point just wide of the left hand post for Byers to sweep it into the near corner; goal! three goals to one in favour of the Scots.
The USA start pressing high again, trying to get a goal back before the end of the third quarter. The Scots continue to use the width, trying to use all of the pitch. The goal from the short corner remains the only success for either team within these 15 minutes and we go into the final break with the scores at three goals to one.
The final quarter gets underway and the Scots give their reserve goalkeeper, 22 year old Stuart McIlravey, a run out. In the fifth minute Scotland get another short corner and it requires some brave defending from the first runner to keep the ball from reaching the goal. With nine minutes remaining American forward Pat Harris, of Mannheimer HC, looks to lead a counter attack, but finds that he lacks support from his team mates and is easily disposed. With five minutes of the match remaining the Americans get into the ‘D’ from the left hand side, but the attack is easily dealt with by McIlravey and the ball is kicked away. Two minutes are left of the match and the Scots try to find a fourth goal, by sending an attack to the top right hand side of the ‘D’, squaring the ball for an assertive reverse hit strike, which is saved well by the USA goalkeeper. Unfortunately, in the build up to this attack American and LA Tigers midfielder Paul Singh is laid out on the ground and has to leave the field. No goals are scored in the final quarter and the game finishes with a three to one win for Scotland.