Donald Park’s decision not to panic on the back of an opening Elite Round defeat was vindicated.
The experienced Under-19 coach drew positives from the defeat to hosts Germany and insisted a few tweaks was all that was required ahead of a duel with the Dutch.
So it proved, as a Jack Aitchison brace was enough to seal the win and breathe new life into the bid to qualify for this summer’s finals in Finland.
Donald, you said before the game that you were pleased with aspects of the performance despite the opening loss to Germany and that it would just take a few minor adjustments to give Netherlands a game. How pleased were you with what you saw?
I was proud of the way the boys played. They really did deserve the win. It wasn’t the case of it being a dogged backs-against-the-wall performance. They defended really well as a unit, were patient on the ball and took their chances when they came. I couldn’t have been happier with them and for them. It also shows the importance of the squad because we mixed the team up to give a few of them experience and Ryan Porteous – an important player for us – was suspended. It was a great result. It says a lot about the character and resilience of the group because their heads could easily have dropped after the loss to Germany. We knew coming out how difficult the draw was, so we couldn’t have asked for anything more than to be in with a chance of qualifying going into the final game.
Presumably complacency won’t be an issue going into tomorrow’s final game against Norway given the way results have been across the group?
They’re a modest, hard-working bunch so no-one will get carried away. Norway, too, have some very talented players, particularly in attack. It’s a shame for us that we’ll have Fraser Hornby suspended because he has been influential for us. But his absence gives someone else the opportunity to come in and impress. Any one of us can qualify. We need a victory, so to an extent it doesn’t matter about the other games. If we draw both us and Norway will be out. If we and the Dutch win, we’ll qualify. If we win and the Germans win, we’ll be out. So you can only look after your own performance and hope for the best.
Jack Aitchison scored both goals and spoke eloquently about dedicating them to his late father, who only recently passed away. He’s someone who has always impressed for Scotland’s youth teams but you must have been delighted with his efforts against the Dutch?
I was really, really pleased for Jack. He works hard for the team and is a natural goalscorer. He’s not the type who offers nothing else other than scoring goals, so the goals themselves shouldn’t overshadow the other fine work he does for the team. But they were great finishes and he was up against a couple of very good defenders. He’s a really good type who deserved his moment. They all are and that’s what makes it different to make changes and leave people out. I’ll have to make the call and at least we all know what we have to do. Win.
European Under-19 Championship Elite Round
Elite Round group winners will go on to play in the finals this summer in Finland.
Scotland 0 Germany 3, Wednesday 21 March, kick-off 6pm (local time), Am Bruchbaum, Lippstadt.
Scotland 2, Netherlands 0, Saturday 24 March, kick-off 5pm (local time), Stadion Grosse Wiese, Arnsberg.
Scotland v Norway, Tuesday 27 March, kick-off 6pm (local time), Am Bruchbaum, Lippstadt.
Aidan McAdams (Rangers)
Kieran Wright (Rangers*)
Aidan Wilson (Rangers*)
Daniel Church (Celtic)
Matthew Shiels (Rangers)
Robbie Deas (Celtic)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Stephen Welsh (Celtic)
Wallace Duffy (Celtic)
Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Jamie Barjonas (Rangers)
Jonny Mitchell (Falkirk) PS
Kerr McInroy (Celtic)
Lewis Ferguson (Hamilton Academical)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Fraser Murray (Hibernian)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Jack Aitchison (Celtic)
Zak Rudden (Rangers) PS
*On loan to Albion Rovers
**On loan to Dumbarton
PS - denotes Performance School player