UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 Qualifier
Belarus vs Scotland
Tuesday 7th June 2016, kick-off 6pm (local time)
FC Minsk Stadium, Minsk

Hayley Lauder believes that today’s UEFA Women’s EURO qualifier against Belarus offers Scotland the perfect opportunity to get their journey to the finals in the Netherlands next summer back on track.

Anna Signeul’s side lost for the first time in Group 1 on Friday against Iceland at the Falkirk Stadium and Lauder reckons that the match at FC Minsk Stadium gives the #SWNT a great chance to right the wrongs from the loss four days ago.

Speaking to the Scottish FA website from the team’s hotel in Minsk, Lauder said: “I think we’ve recovered well since Friday. It’s obviously a short trip between games, but we’ve given ourselves the best chance to perform well.

“It’s important for us that this game has come round so soon. It’s meant that we’ve not had much time on dwell on things, and it’s great that we’ve got a chance to put things right.”

Scotland have certainly clocked up the air miles in their quest to reach the Netherlands next summer, with forays into Eastern Europe to play and defeat Slovenia and FYR Macedonia already under their belts.

Both of these away trips followed home fixtures and on each occasion Anna Signeul’s side returned home with three points, scoring seven goals in the process. For the 26 year-old, the squad’s experience of life on the road has certainly been beneficial for the team in the Belarussian capital. 

“Having an away game four days after a home fixture is always difficult, but it is something that hasn’t affected us” she explained. 

“We’ve had big journeys in this campaign so far, and we’ve won in both of them. We’ve got positive experiences of travelling and performing, and so far in Belarus it has been no different.”

Scotland recorded an emphatic 7-0 victory when they last faced Belarus in October at Fir Park. Although the scoreline was convincing, the visitors were able to frustrate Scotland that evening, with a Jane Ross strike a minute before the interval breaking the deadlock on a wet night in Motherwell. The hosts went on to score six in the second half, but Lauder recalls the match as one that brought about particular challenges.

“It was a really stuffy match,” she said. 

“We had a lot of the ball, and it was tough to make the breakthrough. Getting that goal just before half-time was crucial that night, and in the second half we were able to get into our flow.

“Despite the scoreline, they played well that night. They set out to frustrate us, and in the first half that tactic had some success.”

Eight months have passed since the two sides last met, and the Scotland player believes that Belarus have improved as the qualification campaign has progressed.

“I think this game will be pretty similar (to the match in Motherwell), and they’ll look to hit us during transitions. This game comes quite close to the end of the campaign, and they’ll have no doubt learned a lot and improved since we played them in October, but I’m sure that we have what it takes to return home with the win.

Friday night’s loss to Iceland was obviously disappointing but it did mark an individual milestone for Lauder, who was recognised for her 75 caps for the national team. It is an achievement that she is proud of, although she admits that she doesn’t have her eye on becoming a centurion just yet.

“I’m massively proud. It was so nice to be recognised in front of my family, who have supported throughout my career from the very beginning” she said.

“I’m very fortunate to be doing what I love for my career, and I didn’t think I’d be in a position where I would have 75 caps at 26.

“To be honest, I’m not really looking at the next landmark, the focus has to always on the next game. You’ve just got to take it as it comes, and if I get there, I get there.”