Scottish Universities 2-3 Welsh Universities
Glasgow Caledonian University and Scotland’s Gordon Munro was scripted to take a sixty-seventh minute penalty flick to give the Scots an equaliser. He was the most vocal and skilful of the Scottish players, and helped peg them back from three goals down with two goals in the last ten minutes, the first a firm stab from a short corner and a second when he turned in Ramsay Bell’s effort towards goal. At one stage he had sworn loudly and unsavourily, but it was indicative of his workrate and effort, and hunger while playing the game of hockey. His petulance had earned him a stay in the sinbin, and when he was on the substitutes’ bench he banged his surroundings and was irritable at the referees’ decisions.
This is not to say he was the only player in the game, though his skill did set up Rory McCann, whose goalbound effort was adjudged too high even though the Welshman on the line had blocked it skilfully. Wales were loose at the back early on, though they had the first decent effort after two minutes when Luke Hawker forced a good save from Barnaby Barber, starting in place of David Forrester who was rotated-rested after conceding seven against Northern Ireland. Outfield, Scotland were indisciplined, dealing with the Welsh midfield with fouls, as Chris Reid’s idiotic blocking and Munro’s backchat earned them green cards. Reid was sinbinned for another cynical foul, though this may have been due to frustration at his team conceding a goal from Jake Joyce, who capitalised on a spill by Barber to tap in on thirteen minutes. Three minutes later, with Wales on the ‘power play’, Mark Whatling snapped a shot into the top corner of the Scotland net after Joe Naughalty had done well with close control. Two minutes later, the latter Welshman hit the post from the edge of the D after Scotland couldn’t contain his running; Hawker’s rebound was ruled out for hitting his chest, but Scotland were noticeably struggling despite great forward thrusts led by Mike Witchell. For Wales, Phil Wilkinson was also a threat every time he went forward, and the whole pitch was filled with talent.
Two down at half time, it became three ninety seconds into the second period, as Whatling was crowded out in the D by two Scottish players, a penalty flick given to their bemusement as Whatling had run straight into them. Whatling dispatched it to Barber’s left, and the goal prompted a goalkeeping change for Wales. Henceforth it was all Scotland with the game supposedly dead and buried, and two good chances fell to them; Luke McClelland hit air after a great solo run into the Welsh D, and Tom Blyth was guilty of not feeding Munro when three Scottish attackers surged into an understaffed Welsh half, the shot going wide of the keeper’s post. Duncan Birse was excellent in his coverage of aerial balls and distribution and led from the back, while the Scottish coach claimed inconsistency in the officials’ decisions. With Munro’s two goals, fifty-fifties started to go Scotland’s way, with Wales losing a man to a sinbin and having to bring their original keeper back on. The penalty flick was issued after Munro himself had won the ball, rounded the keeper and been brought down while shooting, and Wales’ Ben Croxall was lucky not to see red himself with a clumsy challenge. With the crowd silent, and Munro on for a hattrick, nerves got to him and his shot was weak and to the keeper’s right, which was also where the keeper was. This save prompted a Welsh surge forward, and a shot from a short corner won by Wilkinson’s pace needed a brilliant off-the-line block by defender Steven Morrison. With the energy not dropping, Scotland pressed into the Welsh half but time ticked out and Wales earned their second win, now favourites to top the table providing they hold Northern Ireland off in the next game. Scotland, devastated at the final whistle Welsh dragons’ roar in the hot April sun, will pick themselves up and hope to gain a consolatory win against England, though their inferior goal difference, now minus-six, consigns them to last place, which is unfair on their play in the final quarter-hour of this brilliant game.