Belfast Telegraph

500 fans turn up to see Northern Ireland suffer defeat

Northern Ireland 0 - Scotland 2

By Stuart McKinley

The 2013-14 season in Northern Ireland finished as it began 11 months ago.

The sun shone at Solitude as a team from Scotland beat a Northern Irish side in north-Belfast.

Last July the venue was a complete sell-out as Celtic came to town to face Cliftonville in a glamour Champions League tie.

This time, in stark contrast, only 500 supporters were out watching the Northern Ireland women’s team ahead of England v Uruguay in the World Cup.

With match dates set down 12 months ago there was little the Irish FA could do about the timing of the match but there was free admission at the turnstiles and the attendance was higher than previous Northern Ireland matches in the group.

However, there was nothing the home defence could do to stem the flow of Scottish attacks that eventually gave them a 2-0 victory.

Kim Little scored on the stroke of half time and after the Scots dominated the second half Jane Ross sealed the victory with 13 minutes to go.

Scotland are top of the group ahead of Sweden on goal difference, but the Swedes have three matches still to play while the Scots have only two.

Little had threatened early on with a shot after just 10 minutes, which Northern Ireland goalkeeper Emma Higgins did well to keep out. Two minutes later Lisa Evans had a great chance to put the Scots in front after she collected the ball from a corner, but she wasn’t able to keep her effort on target.

Scotland were having the better of the opening exchanges and Suzanne Lappin shot wide on 16 minutes before Northern Ireland managed to muster an attack.

Straight from the goal-kick Aimee Mackin broke into the box and had a shot blocked by a Scottish defender.

The game then started to open up and midway through the first half Hayley Lauder forced a fine save from Higgins.

Seconds later Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fay was called into action when Marissa Callaghan came close to opening the scoring, before the Scots’ skipper made an excellent stop.

Scotland forced a series of corners just before the half-hour mark. From the third in quick succession Little swung the ball into the centre and Lappin was only denied by another great save from Higgins.

Lauder and Jennifer Beattie both went close before Scotland finally broke the deadlock a minute from the break.

Julie Nelson conceded a foul on the edge of the box when she brought down Beattie and Little punished her fully by scoring the free kick.

Rachel Corsie, Lauder and Joanne Love all went close to doubling the Scots’ lead early in the second half and as their dominance continued.

Lappin then had two opportunities but Northern Ireland managed to hang on.

Little then turned provider as she set up Ross to score the second on 73 minutes and secure the victory for Scotland and leave Northern Ireland still looking for a first goal in their campaign.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Higgins, Nelson, Hutton, Corry, Caldwell, Rafferty, Shepherd, Magill, Callaghan, Bailie, Mackin. Subs: Lemon, Doherty, Armour, Simpson, Cromie, Connolly, Wade.

SCOTLAND: Fay, Dieke, Corsie, Brown, Love, Lauder, Beattie, Lappin, Little, Evans, J Ross. Subs: Lynn, Black, Mitchell, L Ross, Crichton, Murray, Mulvey.

Referee: Olga Zadinova (Czech Republic).

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