FIH CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE. QUARTER-FINAL
SCOTLAND 1 INDIA 1
aet. Scotland win 3-1 on pens
Scotland defied the world rankings once again as Gordon Shepherd's squad marched into the semi-finals of the FIH Champions Challenge in Dublin by winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out against India, ranked seven places above them, writes Craig Madden. They Scots, ranked below six of the other sides in the competition, remain in contention to match the bronze they won in the tournament at the same venue a year ago.
They were immediately under pressure in the penalty shoot-out as Nikki Kidd missed the opener and India converted, but the tables were turned as Sam Judge and Vikki Bunce both scored while Amy Gibson played her part by stopping India's next two efforts to put the Scots 2-1 up after three. Nikki Lloyd missed her chance after a retake, but India blazed their effort well over and Scotland's famous victory was confirmed when Kareena Marshall rounded the goalkeeper to slot the ball into the empty net for the winner.
If the drama was high at that stage, it had not been earlier on. The first half was an error-strewn affair and chances were few and far between. Kidd fluffed a chance with a fresh-air shot while a cross from Bunce eluded the sticks of Lloyd and Sarah Robertson.
After the interval, Ailsa Wyllie won an early penalty corner but Catriona Ralph's strike was saved, before the Scottish defence was caught out by an India break. Gibson saved the initial shot but Ralph was forced into a stick chop to prevent a score, and Jaspreet Kaur gave the keeper no chance with her spot effort. Scotland retaliated and Lloyd put a shot wide of the left post, Robertson had an effort blocked and Judge forced the keeper into a brilliant double save. They were rewarded in 22 minutes when a training-ground move from their second set-piece led to Judge's shot again being blocked, but a Robertson cross from the resulting corner was met on the run by Judge who volleyed the bouncing ball low into the net.
The final few minutes were full of tension. Gibson had to make a couple of crucial saves and Vikki Bunce was sent to the sin-bin for five minutes, while Wyllie and Marshall had shots blocked and Morag McLellan had to leave the field with a facial injury. Extra time came and went but the Scots were smiling after the shootout. In tomorrow's semi-final, they face the favourites Australia who beat South Africa 2-1 with the winning goal only coming in the closing two minutes.
PREMier league Knockout Cup semi-final first leg
ISPWICH WITCHES 55
EDINBURGH MONARCHS 35
The Hungarian Jozsef Tabaka suffered a wrist injury when he fell in his first ride at Ipswich and Monarchs officials fear he will have to miss tonight's Premier League Play-off second leg against Scunthorpe Scorpions as they seek to overturn a 59-34 first leg defeat. The Scots suffered 5-1 defeats in Heats 1, 4 and 15 but were boosted by nine points from their captain Matthew Wethers and Andrew Tully.
Premier Challenge Trophy
REDCAR BEARS 54
GLASGOW TIGERS 39
Glasgow Tigers were no match for Bears despite 13 points from guest Sam Masters and 10, including three wins, from the veteran James Grieves.
n Edinburgh Monarchs and Glasgow Tigers confirmed yesterday that the Scottish Cup will not be contested this year. Mike Hunter, a Monarchs spokesman, said: "Both teams are involved in other competitions which means uncertainty over available dates and the teams have in any case met eight times already this season."
Andy and Jamie Murray opened the defence of their Japan Open title with a hard-fought 5-7, 6-3, 10-4 win over the American Eric Butorac and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in Tokyo. The brothers face top seeds Leander Paes (India) and Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) in the quarter-finals. Colin Fleming, from Linlithgow, and his English partner Ross Hutchins take on the third seeds Robert Lindstedt (Sweden) and Horia Tecau (Romania) in the quarter-finals of the China Open in Beijing.
Portobello Amateur Swimming Club plays host to British League action featuring the leading eight club sides in Great Britain this weekend, writes Kathy May. Portobello are looking to finish in the top five following their promotion to the top division at the end of last season. It would earn them a place in the Super5s league for the deciding part of the season. They made a promising start by winning two of three matches on the first weekend.
The champions Lancaster and City of Manchester secured places at the Super5s with further victories in the next round at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, while Cheltenham are also safe, but there is plenty still to play for when the remaining divisional matches are hosted in the Royal Commonwealth Pool finale this weekend. It is the first time a Scottish pool has hosted action and entry is free.