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First half strikes see Scotland home

Scotland 3 (Cuthbert 32, Kerr 37, Thomas 38)

Northern Ireland 0

at Dundee F.C.

Three goals in a six minute spell during the first half saw a slick Scotland side to victory over Northern Ireland in their friendly international at Dens Park.

Prior to kick off, both sets of players took part in a minute’s applause for former Scotland Men’s National Team manager Craig Brown, who sadly passed away recently.

There was an early sight at goal for Martha Thomas, on the night of her 25th cap. With three minutes on the clock, Fiona Brown played a perfectly weighted through ball from deep into the path of Thomas’ run but her effort was blocked.

Caroline Weir and Erin Cuthbert both tried their luck in the opening exchanges, forcing smart saves from visiting keeper Shannon Turner as Scotland upped the ante.

Scotland edged even closer on the half-hour mark. Kirsty Hanson's driven, low cross from the left found Thomas at the far post, but Cuthbert - having started the move with a wonderful turn and pass in midfield - was unlucky in inadvertently blocking the shot.

Cuthbert was not to be denied, and opened the scoring a couple of minutes later. Weir found Emma Watson just outside the box and she, in turn, squared for Cuthbert, whose kept her cool to unleash a shot that squirmed beyond the diving Turner.

The second followed in quick succession, when Weir's wicked inswinging found the head of Sam Kerr. There was some debate about whether Northern Ireland's Demi Vance or team mate Sophie Howard got the final touch after the ball went in off the bar, but Kerr was credited with the decisive intervention.

It was 3-0 on 38 minutes, with the impressive Hanson again influential. Yet again she cut to the goal line and delivered a dangerous cross, which was hooked away but ricocheted in back off a grateful Thomas and via the post past a helpless Thomas.

As half time approached, Northern Ireland were unlucky not to reduce the arrears when Rachel Furness produced a dipping effort from distance which crashed back off the far post and Cuthbert produced a superb block to send Joely Andrews’ strike from the rebound over the top.

Scotland were cheered off at half time by an appreciative - and sizeable - home crowd who had braved the elements.

It was a proud night for Amy Rodgers, who was introduced on 61 minutes for her Scotland debut - with Lauren Davidson also substituted on as Pedro Martinez Losa shuffled the pack.

Northern Ireland were much improved after the break and Demi Vance delivered a dangerous cross which was pushed out by Scotland keeper Lee Gibson, while Rebecca Holloway’s long range shot drifted narrowly over.

In the 68th minute, Caragh Hamilton appeared to be bundled over in the area by Emma Mukandi, however the referee waved away the penalty appeal, and then an Andrews effort flew over the bar as Northern Ireland enjoyed a good spell of possession.

Scotland also looked dangerous every time they broke forward. It could easily have been 4-0 on 77 minutes, with another threatening corner from Weir somehow evading everyone in the six yard box.

With ten minutes left, Kirsty MacLean was also sent on for her debut after catching the eye for Rangers.

Right at the death, substitute Caitlin McGuinness fed the ball to fellow sub Danielle Maxwell but her close range shot was palmed away by Gibson, whilst in injury time, substitute Fi Morgan put a header over the bar on her debut.

Scotland: Lee Gibson, Fiona Brown (sub Lisa Evans 71mins), Sophie Howard (sub Amy Rodgers 61mins), Emma Mukandi, Nicola Docherty, Erin Cuthbert, Sam Kerr (sub Kelly Clark 79mins), Caroline Weir (sub Kirsty MacLean 79mins), Emma Watson (sub Rachel McLauchlan 71mins), Martha Thomas (sub Lauren Davidson 61mins), Kirsty Hanson. Subs not used: Jenna Fife, Eartha Cumings, Brogan Hay, Jenna Clark, Amy Muir, Jamie-Lee Napier.

Northern Ireland: Shannon Turner, Rebecca McKenna, Sarah McFadden (sub Fi Morgan 87mins), Rebecca Holloway, Demi Vance, Joely Andrews, Rachel Furness (sub Marissa Callaghan 60mins), Chloe McCarron (sub Megan Bell 59mins), Caragh Hamilton (sub Emily Wilson 87mins), Simone Magill (sub Caitlin McGuinness 68mins), Lauren Wade (sub Danielle Maxwell 59mins). Subs not used: Rachael Norney, Kelsie Burrows, Nadene Caldwell, Kerry Beattie, Emma McMaster, Lilie Woods.  

(Report by and