England v Scotland

at Edinburgh on 9th April 2006

England Grand Masters.   Won 3 - 0

The squad gathered together in Edinburgh on Saturday, spent an hour at the impressive Peffermill sports complex practicing routines, and later enjoyed an excellent dinner with their Scottish opponents and the Great Grandmasters English and Scottish squads.
Despite dire weather forecasts, Sunday was sunny and pleasant, though a chill breeze in the shade reminded one that spring had not quite arrived North of the Border! England had benefited from several practice matches, but this game was their first 'arms length' international testing. With Bra not far distant, the team was anxious to deliver.
England started in a dominant mood. Play flowed down both flanks, through the middle, and passing, control and teamwork were impressive. Scotland were very much on the back foot and were forced to defend with one or two forwards left high to keep the English
defence honest. After several chances went begging, midway through the first half, skipper Ken Wilcock pierced the Scottish defence with a well-judged diagonal pass to pick out Peter Sharpe on the right wing who in turned took it to the bye-line to centre. After a brilliant run across the face of the goal from the left wing John Land deflected the ball into the goal from the near post and England took a well-deserved 1-0 lead. 
England maintained the pressure, and a few minutes later a good combination down the right saw Brian Perryman put Richard Clarke free who carried it to the bye-line and centred across the face of the goal. Mike Surridge at left midfield was there to convert and England moved to 2-0. The last period of the first half saw England lose concentration and shape and allow Scotland to move forward, but without threatening the English goal.
Despite the half-time team talk, England started the second half badly. Scotland came forward, England suddenly looked fragile with poor passing and stopping, and the game took a different complexion. Two goals were not enough, as should Scotland score, their adrenalin and confidence would surely flow. England survived three poorly executed Scottish short corners, and from the third, some ten minutes into the second half and against the run of play, England broke down the left with a flowing move involving a number of players, and Peter Sharpe was on hand to convert a ball centred from the left-side bye-line. This third goal ended the Scottish recovery, and England then dominated the rest of the game with control, incisive and thoughtful passing, full use of both flanks and several further opportunities to score. England ran out deserved winners 3-0, and a score line of 6-1 would have equally reflected the play and goal opportunities.

England were encouraged, though need to improve their finishing both at short corners and in open play. The defence - in the line up on the day - has so far proved resilient conceding only one goal since the squad first assembled early in the season. The side is clearly creative and balanced, the midfield strong, and the challenge ahead in Bra and beyond will be to convert the opportunities that will undoubtedly be created.

The team then watched the England Great Grandmasters win their match 2-0, and a convivial lunch at the ground rounded off a very pleasant weekend. 

Richard Clarke

England Great Grand Masters    Won 2 - 0

In good playing conditions, England opened in lively fashion, intent on imposing early control of the midfield. Playing the ball around comfortably in the early stages, good English possession allowed the Scots little opportunity to get any momentum into their play and they were forced to defend in numbers to contain the English forwards. Early crosses from John Seear on the right and Keith Hedley on the left threatened the Scottish goal but the forwards were unable to capitalise. With ten minutes of play gone, the England pressure at last told when Alan Jackson found Gerald Wilkinson in space, gliding past two defenders a powerful strike gave the ’keeper no chance. Stung into action by this reverse, the Scots moved into the attack and were awarded a short corner, but they were unable to sustain any pressure and David Birch, Leon Mack and Percy Steele were dominant. With the balance of play swinging back into England’s favour, England were able to increase the advantage when a free hit from the edge of the ‘D’ was kept in play by Bill Warrender. Alan Jackson was on hand to pick up the loose ball and squeeze it through the narrowest of gaps into goal.
With a two-goal deficit and Scottish pride at stake, the Scots resumed taking the game to England and Mike Fripp in goal was forced into action for the first time. With Scotland now getting a better share of possession, the England defence was more involved and George Hazell, David Wright and Andy Holden were fully occupied breaking up a series of Scottish attacks. Although the pattern of the game was now much more even, the English goal was never under serious threat. With time running out England were able to raise the pace of the game and a series of short corners resulted but once again the Scots were able to clear the danger and England ran out comfortable winners.


Squad:  Mike Fripp; David Birch; Leon Mack; Percy Steele; George Hazell; David Wright; Andy Holden; John Seear; Gerald Wilkinson; Bill Warrender; Alan Jackson;  Keith Hedley:  

Bill Warrender