Scotland vs. Ukraine
The game of the day sees the host nation Scotland take on Ukraine. The stands are filling up for this one and a musical group called The Rock Choir has turned up to serenade the players and fans alike with pop ditties and to sing the national anthem, Flower of Scotland. This is the opening game of Pool B and Scotland’s first game of the tournament.
An attack down the right hand side sees Scotland get off to a great start. Within two and a half minutes the captain Kareena Cuthbert drives into the circle and centres the ball. Charlotte Watson, who has recently made her debut for Great Britain, pops up to win the challenge with the Ukrainian defender and sees it home; 1 – 0. Just a matter of seconds later, Ukraine get the first penalty corner. The ball is sent back to the injector forcing Amy Gibson to cover her near post. Ukraine can’t capitalise on the resulting long corner and turn over possession. In the seventh minute a pass from outside the circle is kicked by the Ukraine keeper, but not cleanly. It falls to Lucy Lanigan who duly tucks it away and the Scots have doubled their lead. It has to go down as a goalkeeping error. Shortly after the goal, number three, Louise Campbell takes a knock to the face, but she’s tough and plays on. Sarah Jamieson picks the ball up well in the circle. She spins her marker and hits the post with a reverse hit. The ladies in blue are up for this. At the end of the first quarter the score is Scotland 2 – 0 Ukraine.
Five minutes into the second quarter, Ukraine gives away a needless short corner, when the ball pops up off the stick of a defender whilst unchallenged. The goalkeeper saves the shot and the ball is cleared, but the umpire gives another penalty corner, this time for a back stick offence. A strike is taken from the top of the circle and is saved again, but this time Captain Cuthbert scores from the rebound to give her team a three goal lead.
Sarah Robertson makes a great run into the circle and sends the ball to the back post, where Emily Dark really should score. Instead she doesn’t make a clean connection and ends up kicking it. Whenever Scotland come forward they look dangerous. They are attacking with a dynamism that Ukraine are struggling to cope with. After a run down the right wing, the ball is centred, there’s a scramble and Fiona Burnett pops up to give the hosts a four nil lead. This is how the first half ends. Just what the home crowd want.
After the restart, Scotland are maintaining their good possession high up the pitch. In the sixth minute Louise Campbell does brilliantly with the ball, running half the length of the pitch, with Ukrainian defenders bouncing off the smallest player on the pitch. She plays a pass into the circle to a team mate, who forces a decent one on one save from the goalkeeper, number 16, Alina Fadieieva. In the tenth minute Ukraine get a penalty corner. A drag flick from the top of the circle sees Amy Gibson get a pad on it to see the ball away. The Scottish keeper has been having a good game. With under two minutes of the quarter remaining two defensive errors in the circle allows a Ukrainian attacker to get a chance at goal, but Goalie Gibson’s (hopefully that catches on) positional sense maintains the clean sheet. It looks like we’re going to have a goalless fifteen minutes, but with just 20 seconds remaining Emily Dark picks up the ball on the edge of the circle and rifles it home. After 45 minutes the score is Scotland 5 – 0 Ukraine.
In the fourth quarter, we see the Scottish keepers change around. Nikki Cochrane, who was also between the posts for the second period, is back on the field. There is also a sixth goal. Sarah Jamieson picks up the ball and runs through the central channel, she slips the ball past a Ukrainian defender to Lucy Lanigan, who draws Fadieieva and beats her with a reverse stick shot that makes a lovely noise on the back boards. The game is very much in the pockets of the Tartan Army, but with five minutes and 25 seconds remaining on the clock, they find one more with Kareena Cuthbert getting her second of the game at the back post. It’s the biggest win of the day and the Scots will top their group on goal difference.