27 Jan 2008
No medals but Scotland’s women retained their fourth place in European indoor hockey, after losing 4-1 to the Netherlands in the bronze medal play-off in Almeria, Spain, on Sunday.
For coach Gordon Shepherd this was a matter of deja vu as, in similar fashion to two years ago, the Scots won only a crucial pool match to qualify for the semi-finals. They thus avoided the spectre of relegation, but failed to go on to collect a medal in this elite Championship tournament.
Despite also narrowly losing Saturday`s semi-final 4-3 to Belarus, Shepherd is content with a job well done. "The Dutch are a very slick outfit. They pressed us hard for most of the game, and it was only in the final five minutes that we put them under any real pressure.
"But we came here to stay in the A Division and did just that. A medal would have been the icing on the cake. We`ve come away from this tournament with our heads held high. I could not have asked any more from the players. They gave everything.
" The Netherlands only took three minutes to get their noses in front when a high penalty corner volley flew past Carmin Dow in the Scottish goal. The Scots were back on level terms when a Vikki Bunce set-piece effort was saved illegally on the line by a defender and the ever-cool Emma Rochlin came off the bench to slot the ball home with a low flick.
The Dutch responded with venom, forcing the Scots into defensive errors, and proceeded to romp into a 3-1 lead. Although under the cosh for most of the half, the Scots did create some openings, but Nikki Kidd found the Dutch goalkeeper the mistress of her circle.
The second period took on the shape of the first, and it was not long before the Dutch were awarded a penalty. The shot eluded Dow but the ball cannoned to safety off the outside of the post.
Midway throuth the half, the result was sealed when the Dutch converted another set-piece to complete the 4-1 scoreline. Scotland;s No 2 goalkeeper Amy Gibson came on court for the final two minutes to earn her first indoor cap for Scotland and make a telling save to prevent a further Dutch goal.
However, Shepherd`s charges did not come away empty-handed. Milne Craig Western`s Carmin Dow, the Scotland captain, was acclaimed as the goalkeeper of the tournament in recognition of a string of fine saves, including three from the penalty spot.