Scotland came out on top in warm-up matches against a North of England select as players from all squads enjoyed their first run out of the season in Durham.
Squads from the 40s, 45s, 50s, 55s and 60s competed with games on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April, with Scotland edging an overall win.
Scotland 40s had a great start on the Saturday, going at North from the off. But the English side came back in to the match before half time. In the second period it was Scotland who were under attack, and although they kept out a tide of short corners, an obstruction in the D led to a penalty flick which was converted.
In the last 10 minutes Scotland finished strongly, defender Carole Morris turning provider for Alana Willox to send home and finish with a 1-1 draw.
Sunday’s game was a much scrappier affair, North battering Scotland’s defence. But, a determined goal from Suzanne Laing put Scotland 1-0 in the second period and they held on to that lead to win.
Jean Deakin was the scorer of a lovely team move, the only goal of the game, as Scotland 45s won their first encounter against North 1-0 on Saturday. The visitors had the best of the possession and territory and could have won by more had it not been for a strong defence and keeper.
Things were more even the next day as North played a higher press and had a few breakaways, all of which were contained by a robust defence. Scotland had their chances too but couldn’t convert and the game ended 0-0.
In the first game for Scotland 50s, a new formation was on the cards to try to maximise scoring opportunities, but the team struggled to adapt and allowed too many attacking opportunities to the opposition. The English penetration paid off with a goal and, despite a number of corners, the 50s were unable to convert and lost 1-0.
Post match reflections and a more familiar formation on Sunday got the team back on track. The team was immediately on the attack resulting in a well-deserved first-half goal from the Masters Player of the Year 2018, Jackie Wilson. The team’s confidence was high, playing some excellent attacking hockey, while maintaining an excellent defensive record, conceding no corners in the match. A further two goals in the second half from Ellen Murray, and a corner conversion from Wendy Justice, sealed a well-deserved 3-0 win.
A whopping 12 goals hit the backboard over the weekend for the Scotland 55s. There was a lot of turnover ball in the first half from both teams, which resulted in midfield battles and limited scoring opportunities. Goalkeeper Susan Cleaver’s spectacular dive managed to keep what looked to be a definite goal, out. This inspired the team to rally together and go ahead 2-1 at half time.
The visitors heeded the call to keep better possession, which resulted in more scoring opportunities, more attacking penalty corners and a full-time score of 5-1 with goals from Lil McNab, Judith Martin, Mo O’Neill-Fawcett, Ali Ramsay and Pat Lindsay.
On Sunday the team played with more flair. Despite being 3-0 up at half time there was still a sense of urgency and they used the press well, resulting in plenty of scoring opportunities, many of which were upgraded to penalty corners or goals. Goal scorers in the 7-0 win were Mo O’Neill Faxcett (2), Pat Lindsay (2), Lynn Harkins, Nicky Darling and Ali Ramsay.
Circumstances meant Scotland 60s went to Durham less prepared than they would have liked, but their Saturday match started evenly with some end-to-end play. North soon began to dominate, and went ahead, but Scotland did well under constant attack.
In the second period Scotland were unlucky not to score from their first penalty corner of the match. There were a few decent shots on goal, but the North keeper was pretty sharp. A reverse hit from Moira Anderson skimmed the crossbar but North ended strongly, recording a 4-0 win.
Two injuries in the second quarter dented a good start for the 60s on Sunday. Again, they had chances, but no solid outcomes and the final score was 5-0 to the opposition.