Glasgow 2014: Mixed fortunes for Scots hockey teams

Linda Clement and Nicola Skrastin' celebrate. Pic: Greg Macvean
Linda Clement and Nicola Skrastin' celebrate. Pic: Greg Macvean
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As a Mexican Wave broke out across Glasgow Green from sweltering fans, it felt more like Tijuana than Tollcross as mixed fortunes awaited Scotland’s hockey teams in the blistering sunshine.

The men, captained by Gordon Grassick, from Balerno, went down 2-0 to South Africa, but the women’s team, under the leadership of Watson’s College PE teacher Linda Clement, were quickly into their stride, beating Malaysia 2-0.

“Just how did you cope with the heat?” is not a question Scottish captains, playing at home, are often confronted by.

Clement, just as on the field, had the right answer. “It was hotter than we would expect,” she said, “but we prepared well hydrated before the game and knew the procedures during it.

“As soon as it gets hot, fitness levels become more important and because we are a fit side we didn’t experience any problems.”

There was also a premium on discipline and control as the Malaysians soaked up pressure until Ailsa Wyllie popped up with a goal in each half to provide momentum going into a follow-up clash with Australia tomorrow in what promises to be a tight group also featuring England and Wales.

“We had to be patient (because) we made a lot of chances early doors and had a lot of possession,” continued Clement. “We know we just needed to stick to the game plan and goals would come. Once we got the first, we then got a second.

“Something we work at in training is being sharp in front of goal and a prime example of that was Ailsa taking her opportunities.

“We are pleased with our performance, but certainly there are things we can do better.”

In front of a near capacity 5000 crowd the ability of both Scottish teams to control their adrenalin shouldn’t be underestimated.

“It motivates you,” said Clement, who is playing in her fourth Games.

Men’s counterpart Grassick, who now plays for Surbiton, insisted: “Today has got us going. We can feed off this.

“We ‘scored’ a first half goal (at 0-0) and it wasn’t given. If we had got that then I’m sure we could have gone on to win.”

Umpires ruled that a Scottish foot had come in contact with the ball on its way into the net from the stick of Nick Parkes and fortunes were to nosedive still further after the teams had turned level.

Niall Stott was served a five-minute penalty for dangerous play on the occasion of his 100th cap and, taking full advantage, South Africa forced a penalty corner from which defender Ross Stott was deemed to have illegally prevented the ball beating ‘keeper Jamie Cachia.

Scotland used their review referral to no avail and after Andrew Cronje had converted, the plucky hosts remained in contention until Ignatius Malgraaf put the result beyond doubt three minutes from the end.

“We still believe we can qualify, we just need to win our next couple of games, so this is just a minor setback,” claimed Ross Stott ahead of today’s group match with India.

“It was a big day for me, but it didn’t end the way I wanted it to. I was honoured to win my 100th cap, but I suppose you can blame the Stotts for the result!”