Under 21s: Scotland 3 Northern Ireland 1

Last updated : 18 November 2010 By Ed_ScottishFitba

Leigh Griffiths scoresScotland under 21's deservedly won the game against their Northern Ireland counterparts at Firhill tonight. 3-1 was the final score but Scotland really controlled the game from the start. Leigh Griffiths, Paul Hanlon and Nicholas Ross got the Scotland goals with Eunan O'Kane replying the the visitors. Nearly two thousand souls braved the cold weather to see the game and were rewarded by a comfortable performance by Billy Stark's charges. Scotland were not really trouble by the visitors before the first goal of the evening was scored by Griffiths (Dundee). He was fed the ball out on the left in the 12th minutes and looked to be shaping to cross the ball for a teammate running in on the right. However, as 'keeper Wayne Drummond (Rangers) moved to try to narrow the angle while also looking to cover any pass, Griffiths elected to shoot and the ball fizzed past the man with the gloves despairing dive to his left. The goal was justified as Griffiths appear to have a roving commission to work alone and cause as much trouble to the Irish defence as possible. he did seem to have a number of tricks which confused the defence but then so did a number of the Scottish side. They were comfortable on the ball, willing runners and moving for each other. next up to test Drummond was Hearts' Craig Thomson. The Northern Ireland managed to get the ball out of danger, or so they thought, from a corner only for Thomson, 25 yards out, to send the ball directly back into the 'keeper welcoming arms. Drummond was the busier keeper as next up, John Fleck (Rangers) fired in a great shot only to see Drummond dive and tip it round O'Kane scoresthe post. The Irish equaliser came in the 34th minute when a short corner was passed to O'Kane who moved to the edge of the penalty box before sending in a cross-cum-shot which beat Jamie Barclay (Falkirk) in the Scotland goal.
In the second half, Scotland were always the more likely to score. The hard working Johnathon Russell was disappointed when he saw his close range shot saved by Drummond, and his header, while on the deck, beat the keeper but just didn't have the legs to cross the line. However, Scotland's fans only had to wait a few more minutes to celebrate another goal. Captain Paul Hanlon ScoresHanlon (Hibs) had been a quiet influence of confidence at the back and probing with the occasional link up with his forwards. He was in the right place at the right time to steer the ball into the net from  close range in the 20th minute. His reward was being mobbed by teammates and then subbed for a warm bath. As ever, the second half was disrupted as both sides used substitutes to give players a run out. The changes did not change which side had the upper hand although Scotland did get a fright when, from yet another corner, Sean McCaskin (Jerez Industrial) moved head a shoulders above the Scottish defence to power the ball goal-wards only to see it hoofed off the line by a Scottish boot. The final drama of the night was in the last minute when substitute Nicholas Ross (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) rubbed salt into Northern Ireland's wound by firing in a powerful shot from the edge of the box to complete the scoring. With
David Goodwillie, Danny Wilson and Barry Bannan promoted to the senior side, Stark can take some comfort that there is still some talent on the conveyor belt from the under 19s to take their place.

Scotland: Barclay, Thomson, Hanlon, Perry, Hanley, Hutton, Armstrong, Inman, Griffiths, Russell, Fleck
Subs: Ridgers, Duffie, Booth, Palmer, Ness, MacDonald, Ross, Wylde, Andrews

Northern Ireland: Drummond, McLaughlan, Ferguson, Breeze, McCaskin, Devine, Bryan, McLauchlan, Kee, Grigg, O'Kane

Subs: Deane, Lavery, Boyce, Clucas, Bagnall, Carson, Brennan

Attendance: 1,764

Referee: Richard Liesveld (The Netherlands)

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