Written and reported by Alex Cormack. Photo by Iain Cairns (@iancairns).
Scotland faced France in their second game of the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Preparatory Tournament under pleasantly blue skies at the Simple Digital Arena in Paisley. The players were looking to bounce back following a close fought 1-0 defeat to Spain earlier in the week.
France got proceedings underway and immediately started to settle into their way of playing comfortably knocking the ball around the back teasing the Scots players forwards out of position. This opened up large amounts of space down the wings with Sandy Baltimore in particular making strong runs down the left.
The first clear cut chance of the match fell for France forward Lorena Azzaro after miscommunication between keeper Emily Mutch and her defence saw the forward knock the ball away from her hands and have a shot at goal that was blocked.
After the opening 15 minutes were controlled by the French, Scotland started to grow into the game with Jamie-Lee Napier looking particularly dangerous. In the 34th minute Kaela Mcdonald found her way through the French defence to set up a three-on-one attack but couldn’t find her teammates with her pass just outside the penalty area falling to an opposition player.
However in the 37th minute France would be the first team to score after some nice play from the French forwards was finished with a curling effort by Sonia Ouchene.
Just five minutes latter and France had doubled their advantage this time coming from a break down the right-hand side. Captain Eva Kouache played a well weighted ball out to Jessy Roux who passed to an unmarked Lorena Azzaro in the box who then dutifully slotted home past the keeper.
The second half didn’t see much improvement for Scotland after a clumsy back pass gave France a corner two minutes into the half. The ball was whipped in by Kouache into a dangerous area in the box and with a scramble of at least 6 players all going for it in a tight space it was Sarah Zahot who gave France a three goal lead after poking it in.
There after it was more strong play from France with the woman now looking tired for Scotland. But there was still desire within the team and again the players started to rally. In the 71st minute there were calls for a penalty after Jamie-Lee made a strong run into the box and appeared to be fouled by the covering France defender but the referee waved play on.
France however asserted their dominance once again in the last ten minutes with two goals from two substitutes. First came from Melvine Malard with potentially the goal of the game after firing a low-driving shot into the bottom right of the goal from just inside the penalty area. The second from Amelie Delabre who scored after being on the pitch for less than a minute.
There was a couple more chances for Scotland before the game was out with the best being a free-kick just outside the box from Kaela McDonald who forced France Keeper Camille Pinel to make a fantastic save low to her right. The ball then deflected off of the post and France were able to clear.
After the game manager Pauline Hamill was focusing less on the result and more on the experience that her team received from today.
“I think from this game and the [Spain] game they’ll have learned so much from playing against real, high-level opposition” she said. “I think you alwayshave to focus on performance against teams like that because if you focus too much on the results then you’re just going to feel disappointed.”
Team Captain Amy Muir talked about the strength of the defence at times against both France and Spain, saying: “..when we look to the first game against Spain I felt there was spells
where we defended really well and we stopped their threat and it was the same today I think. France did cause us problems but there was times and spells in the game where I felt like we controlled them well and we even had a few shots on target as well.”
The team now look ahead to Tuesday where they face Denmark in the final game of the tournament at Firhill, 13:00 KO.