Saturday 15 December marked a day in history and a huge step forward for Scottish Powerchair Football, as Scotland played their first game on the international stage. The newly formed National side faced Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club in an exciting club vs country friendly fixture.
The day began with an inspirational presentation from Scottish Football Association’s David McArdle on what representing Scotland means, what the national anthem means and what is expected of the players as international footballers. All thirteen players called up listened and took every word on board.
Scotland vs Middlesbrough fixture
Everyone eagerly anticipated the announcement of the team prior to the game. The team, picked by team coaches Garry Johnstone and Craig Peattie, was comprised of two Tayside Dynamo Blue players, Eythan Galloway and Keith Speed, and two Clyde Alba players, Kieran Burns and Colin Shields. At 15:00pm history was made. Scotland kicked their first ever international fixture off. High tempo from the get go, the first chance fell to Scotland who worked the ball well, feeding it to MDUK Scotland Premiership’s current leading goal-scorer Eythan Galloway. The Tayside Dynamo Blue forward was unlucky to have his shot blocked by Middlesbrough, but a positive start.
It wasn’t long before Middlesbrough mounted their own attack. The English Premiership side demonstrated their quality in defence, quickly countering the Scottish. A couple of clearances from Colin Shields and Keith Speed managed to keep the tie even, but Middlesbrough’s persistent efforts wore down the stubborn defence of the Scots. A splitting pass from the experienced Middlesbrough captain Cath McNoil picked out their number 48, Tyler Reeve, who converted to break the deadlock. Shortly after, the same duo combined to cause Scotland problems and it was an unfortunate deflected shot off of Colin Shields bumper that doubled the lead of the visiting side.
The Premiership side really showed their quality following their second and Scotland failed to adapt to the electrifying speed and link up play. The overwhelming pressure soon turned into a third for Middlesbrough with Cath McNicol intercepting a deep free kick to convert their third.
Middlesbrough have displayed some fantastic defensive abilities in national games this year and Scotland were finding it increasingly difficult to break down. A well worked move from Middlesbrough freed up some room for Lee Armstrong who converted Boro’s fourth of the game. Despite the score line, Scotland never gave up and all players wore the badge proudly. The side dug in and from a well worked move, Clyde Alba’s very own Kieran Burns picked out Eythan Galloway, the side’s youngest player, at the back post who slotted home Scotland’s first ever international goal. The cheers echoed around the Inverclyde National Sports Centre. A truly memorable and proud moment for all players, coaches and families. Following this, the half-time whistle blew, signifying the end of a memorable first half.
In the second half Chris Jacquin, Connor McCole, Ben Hetherington and Logan Michelson entered the fray in place of the previous four players, a moment they will not forget. The second half started as the first ended, fast paced and not short of excitement. The quality of Middlesbrough was evident throughout and an early chance looked set to take them to five, if it wasn’t for a miraculous goal line clearance from substitute Logan Michelson.
Despite some well worked play, early in the second half, a Middlesbrough free kick taken by Jonny Howsley was drilled into Ryan Dack who slotted it home from the edge of the box. Another Jonny Howsley set-piece proved the undoing of Scotland, this time from a corner, picking out Lee Armstrong in the box who prodded it home for six. Tyler Reeve sealed his hat-trick late on to cap a 7-1 win for the visiting side.
The one-sided score line was not truly representative of the game and the national side will take nothing but positives from the fixture. Middlesbrough were presented with the Peter O’Brien Trophy, a former Clyde Alba player who passed away recently, by European Powerchair Football Association President Donal Byrne shortly after the game.
Scotland: Eythan Galloway x1
Middlesbrough: Tyler Reeve x3, Lee Armstrong x2, Ryan Dack x 1, Cath McNoil x1
Big credit to players, Connor Colhoun, Thomas Pettigrew, James Doull, Nicky Duncan, Chris Jacquin and Lewis McConnell. Despite not being selected for the feisty final matchup with Middlesbrough, supported their team brilliantly. You are all a credit to the team and your chance is sure to fall very soon.
A massive well-done to the players, coaches and families from every one at Muscular Dystrophy UK. Every one of you did your country proud. Thank you to Willie Pettigrew for you continued support. The side will continue to have crucial development games to further their international experience. An exciting friendly with English Premiership side, Leeds PFC, in the New Year will be another great chance for Scotland to gain invaluable experience.
With the Scottish national league more exciting than ever, the Scottish Cup in full flow and now the introduction of the National squad, the only way is up for Powerchair Football in Scotland. I’m already looking forward to the prospect of an England vs Scotland match-up!