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Scotland U21 Men defeated by top Polish finishing in St Petersburg

16 July 2017

Scotland kit logo

Scotland U21 Men were defeated 3-0 by Poland in their opening match of EuroHockey Junior Championship II in St Petersburg. It was a valiant effort by the Scots but some ruthless Polish finishing was the difference.

It was a very even opening to the match with no clear chances created for either side.

The Scots were confidently passing the ball around in their own half until a Polish interception saw a striker steal the ball and surge into the D. The Polish forward was quickly crowded out and Scotland emerged with the ball.

A good interception by Joe McConnell saw Scotland attack down the left but it fizzled out and gave Poland possession.

The first quarter ended with Scotland edging the play but having no clear opportunities for a shot on goal.

The second half saw the first real chance of the match fall for Poland – a slick passing move through the Scotland defence opened up a shot on the turn but Douglas Gourley in goal for Scotland was equal to it, and saved with his leg guards.

The white shirts of Poland were starting to look the more dangerous of the two teams, and they won the first penalty corner of the match after good play down right.

Gourley was called into action again and pulled off and excellent save to keep the score 0-0.

The stalemate wouldn’t last long and good move and finish gave Poland the lead. The Poles swept into Scotland’s D from the right and Maciej Trojanek picked his spot well to put his side in front before half time.

If Head Coach Graham Moodie was looking for an instant reaction from his team he got it as Scotland came out quick for the second half. Two brisk attacks in the opening two minutes saw Scotland come out fighting for an equaliser. The Poles held strong however and as time passed they grew into the half.

Poland doubled their lead through a well-taken penalty corner. A stunning finish from Robert Gruszczynski saw the ball thunder into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

The Poles could smell blood and went hunting for a killer third goal. Another penalty corner and this time a good double save by Gourley denied a third for Poland.

The third goal would eventually come however and it was another exceptional drag flick from a penalty corner that made it 3-0. Artur Nojgebauer expertly sent the ball sailing into the top right corner to take the match out of reach for the plucky Scots.

Scotland continued to battle hard regardless and some good dribbling by John McCluskey ended with his reverse stick shot zipping over the bar.

McCluskey was at it again minutes later and this time his dribbling won Scotland a penalty corner. It eventually became a trio of penalty corners and good goalkeeping by Aleksander Szewerda denied the Scots. The final effort was a nice routine to create space for the injector but the keeper read it well.

A late break forward found Cameron Golden in space on the left but he was closed down quickly and was unable to get a clean shot.

Scotland U21 Men Head Coach Graham Moodie said, “We made too many basic errors so can have no complaints with the result. We made things difficult for ourselves at times and we didn’t play as well as we can.

“That said we had a strong fourth quarter and started to find our stride towards the end of the match. The main focus now is to take the positives from the final quarter and build on that for our next game on Tuesday.”

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