NotJustScottishFootball : Scotland U19 Women Suffer Slim Danish Defeat in Opening Euro Elite Round Match
Scotland's young under 19s womens' squad took to the field in Livingston tonight in their first European Championship Elite Round match knowing that the task that lay ahead of them was going to be a tough one if they were to emerge victorious.
Denmark were technically better than the Scots throughout the match but what the Scots lassies lacked in skill, they more than made up for in grit and determination and this showed throughout the 90 minutes of play as both sides portrayed a game of football that dazzled the watching 467 crowd that turned out in the evening sunshine at Livingstons Braidwood Stadium.
Scotland had the better of the early exchanges and looked the more likely to open the scoring as they probed and pushed forward but it was the Danes that would score the first and ultimately the only goal of the match just two minutes prior to the end of the first half with a swerving looping shot that drifted over the Scottish keepers head to give the visitors the three points as the home side failed to manage the equalizer before the end of play.
The game started amidst a contrast of surroundings, snow on the touchlines, warm sun in the sky and after both national anthems had been sung with fervour, it was the Scots lassies in their white shirts & blue shorts that would begin proceedings.
Playing a 4-4-2 formation changing to a 3-5-2 when attacking, the home side had obviously been tactically aware of how strong the Danish squad would be but it was the home team that went closest early on and were happy to playing the ball around, looking for the chance for an opening and it took until the 19th minute before a chance presented itself when a rebounded ball landed at the feet of Caroline Weir on the edge of the box but a well placed tackle blocked her effort as it looked goal bound without the interception.
The Danes were becoming more confident in the match and in particular their number seven, Frederikke Thorgersen was causing havoc with her speed down the right hand side. This speed opened an opportunity for the young player near the half hour mark when she bolted into the danger area and unleashed a strike from the corner edge of the box but Hannah Reid between the sticks for Scotland was well placed to save the chance.
Karoline Smidt Neilson was next with a pop at goal but her deft flick near the front post was easily swept up by Reid in goal but the intent was startlingly obvious for the watching crowd that the visitors were going to be a handful.
The Scots were dangerous on the offence and on 34 minutes it appeared that Claire Emslie would score the opener but her 25 yard thunderbolt was tipped round the post by the impressive Danish keeper Maria Christensen. The strike and save were both well received by the supporters and seemed to spark the visiting team into life.
Five minutes before the end of the first period, Thorgersen tried her luck once again and was unlucky as she watched her effort take a deflection and spin wildly in the air before bouncing in a wicked manner into the outstretched hands on goalie Reid. However this just prolonged the opener and it was only one minute later that the Danes would score.
Once again the danger came from a crossed ball, this time from the left, and again it was a wickedly spinning ball that emerged in favour of the ladies in red shirts. Amalie Gronbaek Threstrup picked up the loose ball near the corner of the box, spun and struck a looping, swerving attempt that lobbed in over the keepers head to give the Scandinavians the lead as they headed into the break.
The match swung from end to end in the second period with chance after chance being presented before the goalies.
Threstrup was next up to try and add another but watched as her attempt spun past the post on 48 minutes and on the hour mark could count themselves unlucky not to have doubled their lead as firstly Nikoline Lovgren Frandsen saw her headed effort cleared from the line and Anna Fisker watched as the rebound she struck slid past the far post.
A couple of minutes later, Scotland nearly equalized when Caroline Weir watched as her header went agonizingly close and she was doing her best to rattle the Danish midfield area, harrying and scuttliing about, harassing her opponents, trying to create openings but the Danish central defender Stine Ballisager Pedersen was flawless in her execution of her domain throughout the whole 90 minutes, putting in a tremendous display of leadership and defending that was thwarting the Scots at every turn.
As the game clock started to run down, both teams were forcing the play. Thorgersen was twisting and turning way into dangerous areas and Caroline Rask for the Danes attempted another long range effort that was well saved by the ever alert Reid in the Scots goal.
With very little time remaining, the home side were chucking everything up front. Left back Chloe Arthur was making tracks down the flank and her lobbed effort from 25 yards out nearly caught the Danish keeper out but she managed to reshape her stance to capture the ball and only moments later a stramash in the visitors box saw the ball float over Christensen's head but unfortunately the sheer body of numbers managed to divert the ball away from goal to keep the scoreline at one to zero for the visiting side.
After the three minutes of added time ended, the Danes celebrated with a fervour of champions. they realized that a victory in the opening game of a three game series was vital and how they celebrated.
Afterwards, Scotland national coach Anna Signeul said: "We are disappointed but Denmark are a very technically gifted side. They were ranked third in the world and we knew this game would be difficult."
"Now we move onto Saturdays game [v Ukraine] but all the teams are very good at this stage and are all capable of taking points from each other."
The other game of the night ended with Ukraine and Austria battling out a 0-0 draw, a result that helps Scotland somewhat but they now need a victory in Saturdays match to remain in contention and hope that Austria defeat or at least draw with Denmark to keep the section open as only the winner proceeds to the finals in Wales during the summer.
Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for Examiner.com, Football Speak, Global Football Today, 90 Soccer, Yardbarker, OurGameMagazine and various online & published sports outlets across the globe. All quotes are obtained first-hand unless otherwise stated. You can follow Marc on Twitter @myscottishfitba
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