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SCOTLAND 2 (Fernon, Little pen) NORTHERN IRELAND 0
Scotland maintained their excellent run of form with a convincing 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland at the Strathclyde Home Stadium in Dumbarton.
In a match totally controlled by the Scots, the home side should have gone in ahead at half time. Centre half Rachel Corsie was the first player to go agonisingly close, when she headed just past the post from a Scotland corner. Captain Julie Fleeting then sent a powerful header over the bar as she got on the end of another Scotland attack. The impressive Megan Sneddon was also unlucky as her 25-yard drive shaved the bar in a first period totally dominated by Scotland.
In the second half, Scotland continued to control the game, but moved the ball quicker and with more penetration. Kim Little nearly put her side into a well deserved lead when she was slipped through by full back Emma Fernon, but took an extra touch when perhaps she should have got her shot off earlier. The talented midfielder was in the thick of the action again, this time making excellent room for herself just inside the box, but she curled her effort just past the post.
Another chance for Fleeting and a shot from distance from Fernon, was beginning to make it seem like this was not going to be Scotland's day in front of goal but with twenty minutes remaining, full back Fernon eventually made the breakthrough. Kim Little laid the ball back to Fernon, and the Glasgow City defender struck from 20 yards out. The Northern Ireland keeper got her hand to the ball but could not stop it hitting the back of the net as Scotland went 1-0 ahead.
The goal was Fernon's first ever senior international goal in what is only her ninth cap and topped off a fine performance which saw her being named Player of the Match.
Scotland continued to attack the Irish, but were unable to add to their lead until the dying seconds of the match. Leanne Ross beat the full back and sent in a cross which was handled by the Irish defence leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Up stepped Kim Little who finished with ease to give Scotland the two-goal victory their play undoubtedly deserved.
Northern Ireland rarely threatened in the match. They had only one real opportunity when a run was made across the Scottish defence from a cross, but the Irish striker toe poked her effort well wide.
With her first ever senior goal and a Player of the Match performance, Scotland full back Emma Fernon was obviously delighted. She said: "It was fantastic to score my first ever goal and to be honest I didn't even know how to celebrate.
"I thought overall it was a convincing win for us today, although at times our final ball let us down. In the first half we were a little over cautious defensively and at half time Anna (Signeul) told the full backs to push forward, which was great news for me. I must have spent the whole second half attacking, which obviously gave me the chance to score. Confidence is really high in the team just now and the spirit is fantastic. We are really looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers next month."
(Report by Laura Montgomery)
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