By Campbell Finlayson (@campbell6_2)
Is a rousing rendition of the national anthem possible in an empty stadium? Possibly not but Scotland’s women gave Flower of Scotland a good belt at an eerie looking Tynecastle before hoping to belt Albania too.
Jane Ross was the one making the most impact early on, having two shots cleared, a cross was cut out too as Albania sat back. A bit like myself at home, while Chris braved the cold Edinburgh night, no defending for me to do though.
It was one-way traffic with the Scots in control, Erin Cuthbert smacked a shot off the bar, the only bar anyone would visit for this game unfortunately, but it wasn’t long before Scotland found themselves inside one, Rachel Corsie nodding home at the back post. Unfortunately for the skipper, her effort was ruled out by the offside flag, although the replays showed the lineswoman got the decision wrong.
In the middle of the park, Caroline Weir was, as usual, controlling the midfield, despite the referee’s best attempts to do just that, booking anyone who dared make a tackle.
The Manchester City midfielder is a player who always stands out, her close control and fantastic range of passing a huge asset both to her club and country. Her delivery from set pieces is one too and it certainly was here, a beautiful delivery from the left finding Corsie who headed home, before checking to make sure the lino hadn’t wrongly flagged again. She hadn’t and Scotland were in front.
Scotland were comfortable, until Hannah Godfrey decided to give Albania some hope of getting a shot on target with a woeful pass. A tame shot towards goal only served to remind us Lee Alexander was actually at the other end of the park and not in the stand with a Bovril.
Working from home isn’t so bad, sitting with a rum in hand while listening to an insightful interview with Godfrey on BBC Alba’s fantastic half time coverage is certainly a plus. Meanwhile, my Leading the Line friend had to make do with a flask of tea in the darkest depths of Tynecastle. Fair to say I was winning.
Talking of Chris, one of his favourite players (as anyone who listens to the podcasts will know), Rachael Boyle, was replaced at half time by Kirsty Smith. The Hibs midfielder, turned right back for Scotland, was probably the closest to being sent off in the first half after a risky tackle while on a booking. Thankfully, the ref didn’t send her for an early bath, although with coronavirus restrictions I’m not sure that would be allowed anyway.
Substitutes were the name of the game with a quiet opening to the second period, Leanne Crichton was at Tynie for the second Friday running, having been there on media duties watching Hearts dismantle Dundee last week (sorry but as a United fan I had to get that in), coming off the bench along with West Ham forward Martha Thomas as Lucy Graham and Ross made way.
Alexander came out for her second half involvement to clear the danger as Albania made a rare foray forward before Thomas almost made a quick impact following her arrival before the aforementioned Weir finally gave Shelley Kerr’s side some breathing space. Cuthbert laid the ball off, Weir found the corner, helped by a deflection, and Scotland were on course for another important three points.
There was even time to add gloss to the score line in stoppage time. Thomas was scythed down in the box and Weir was on hand to slot the ball home from the spot for her second, Scotland’s third and a very straight forward evening in the capital.
In terms of qualification, three games played, three games won, just a point behind Finland with a game in hand and a trip to Helsinki in midweek. Things are definitely in Scotland’s hands and a third straight major tournament could be on its way, but only if they remain focused for the final few games. Let’s hope there’s no VAR to force penalty retakes though, we’ve had enough of that before.
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