Scotland 1 Belgium 0

23 August 2011 11:48
Scotland showed that they can change their game to suit the opposition. Belgium was a different proposition to Switzerland but they still lost. Scotland's women made it two wins out of two (and two clean sheets) after seeing off Belgium tonight at the Falkirk Stadium. It was Julie Fleeting's goal (her 116th for the national side) in the third minute which will show up the difference on the record books but Scotland were required to be more flexible in their approach to the game than on Sunday. Against the Swiss, it appeared that (especially in the first half) anytime Scotland wanted to score they did. It was a different story tonight as the Belgium side were more physical in their defence and Scotland had to out think their opponents while being ready to respond the visitors quick transition form defence to attack. This was more evident in the second half with Scotland making good use of the defensive skills of all their players. The team appears to be more confident in themselves the more they play together and are always willing to take the ball and look for ways to pressurise their opponents. The ball is passed crisply and controlled from front to back and even when substitutes were introduced, the pattern of play did not change that much. Scotland were in control for the ninety minutes and restricted Belgium to long range efforts. I can't remember any real bother for Gemma Fay in goal in the second half but there was one incident in the first when she had to send the ball onto the bar one handed from a deep and dangerous cross. The sparcity of the 390 crowd did allow you to hear captain Fay directing her defence and encouraging the side to press forward. Fay's was not the only voice to be heard as players were increasingly encouraging each other to take the game to the Belgians. Coach Anna Singeul said after the game: "Even if you play bad, keep a clean sheet and score a goal and you win, it is good for self confidence. Belgium was a very competitive side, very physical, good technically and very big. And I think they really fought well. We started with the same starting eleven but even in the warm up I did not think we were as sharp (as Sunday). It was the second game in 48 hours but on the other hand I think it is important to play very well again. In the first ten minutes we were excellent again, very, very good and even the whole of the first half it was just that we started playing long ball and we didn't have many options. We need to be good at these double headers, play the games - refocus and prepare for the next game." The next games, against Finland on 18 and 21 September, were specifically timed to replicate double header qualifying games for EURO2013. A squad mentality is required when players from some of the top clubs in the UK and aboard come together to represent their country. There was one moment of worry for Scotland in the first half when Fleeting failed to jump to her feet after trying to win a throw-in. In the tangle of legs, she fell awkwardly on the ankle which has troubled her before. She hobbled off for a couple of minutes but was determined to rejoin the fray. She lasted the full ninety minutes which will have done her confidence no harm whatsoever. Her ankle was a sight to see after the game, and as much as I hate golf, the only way to describe the swelling was that it was the size of a golf-ball right on the ankle joint. However, she saw some benefits of having to take care of the injury in that night time baby duties would be passed on to her partner. She said: "I just landed on it awkwardly, and it's weak. It is not that it happens every game, it was just unfortunate that it happened tonight and left me a bit sore. I just have to look after it after games and make sure I am doing the right things. That is what you train for, whether it was sore in the game, I did not want to come off, nobody does. You just get on with it and suffer later on."