THREE days ago, Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie, David Smith and Jason Holt were celebrating a famous win for Hearts in the Edinburgh derby after overcoming Hibs 1-0. The fresh-faced youngsters, however, will today be licking their wounds after they brought back down to earth with a bump last night as they and their Scotland Under-21 team-mates were annihilated 6-0 by England.
McKay and McHattie started at Bramall Lane and were part of a back four which was constantly tormented by the pace of Nathan Redmond and Raheem Sterling, while the strength of Connor Wickham and the probing passing of Jonjo Shelvey unnerved them all night long.
Winger Smith and attacking midfielder Holt entered the fray in the second half as Billy Stark’s men tried to salvage something from a “chastening” evening, but neither made an impact.
A shell-shocked Scotland manager Stark said: “It was a chastening experience. I have been in football long enough to know that however you approach a game, you can never be absolutely sure, but I never saw that coming.”
England opened the scoring after only three minutes. Redmond, who moved from Birmingham to Norwich in the summer, latched on to a long cross-field ball, outpaced McHattie and planted the ball beyond Jordan Archer.
Liverpool teenager Sterling added a second on 38 minutes, slotting home after Shelvey pierced the Scotland defence with a slide-rule pass, but it was the second half when things went badly wrong for the visitors as they conceded four goals in a calamitous 11-minute spell.
The first of the quartet was an embarrassing and downright appalling moment for Archer on 50 minutes. The Tottenham keeper attempted to play a long pass from hand at the edge of his box, but failed to connect properly with the ball, slicing it ten yards in front of him where Wickham, with his back to goal, swivelled and hit it first-time over the stranded stopper.
Substitute Ross Barkley made it four on 55 minutes before a Shelvey strike from distance a minute later increased the advantage, and on 61 minutes it was six when Tom Carroll blasted the ball high beyond Archer.
Smith was introduced to the fray a minute later as a replacement for Scotland captain Stuart Armstrong, while Holt came on for Tony Watt ten minutes later.
Winger Jamie Walker and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton, both of Hearts, were left on the bench, the latter probably content not be in the firing line as a relentless England continued to pepper the Scots goal, although the score remained at six.
England boss Roy Hodgson, who took charge of the young Lions on a one-off basis ahead of the senior side’s clash with Scotland, was left in no doubt that some of his players will soon be in contention for a step up to full international honours.
“They really did take their chances with both hands, and a lot of those players would certainly not be out of place in the senior team,” he said.
“Certainly it has put the statements that English football has no talented players, and that we have nothing coming through, to bed,” he said.
England were streets ahead of their opponents and for McKay, McHattie, Smith and Holt, Firhill on Friday, when Hearts visit Partick, can’t come quick enough as they look to erase a horror night from the memory.