Women's International Challenge Match
France 1-1 Scotland
Stade Francis Le Blé, Brest
Local player Emma Mitchell won her first senior cap last night, going straight into the starting line-up for Scotland's confidence-boosting draw against a France side that they are set to meet again in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 qualifiers.
National coach Anna Signeul praised the Kirkcaldy-born former women's under-19 captain on her first appearance, applauding her work rate in defence, particularly after conceding a penalty.
Perth native Lisa Evans also made the step up to the senior squad, taking a place on the bench.
Last night's match promised to be a tough test for national coach Anna Signeul’s injury-ravaged side. France are preparing for the World Cup in Germany in June, and defeated Scotland 3-0 at the Cyprus Women’s Cup earlier this year.
With regulars such as Rachel Corsie, Jo Love, Suzanne Grant and Frankie Brown ruled out, Mitchell went straight into the starting 11, with five further uncapped players, including Evans, on the bench.
Goalkeeper Gemma Fay got an important touch on a French cross to avert danger during the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who took the lead on 13 minutes. Glasgow City striker Jane Ross got on the end of a Megan Sneddon throw-in to hook the ball over the ‘keeper.
A few minutes later Hayley Lauder raced through the French defence, but put her shot wide.
Fay was called into action again on the half hour to save at the feet of Thiney.
It looked as though Scotland would go in at half-time with a slender lead, until Mitchell fouled Le Sommer on the edge of the box on the 43rd minute. Bussaglia converted the penalty to level the score.
Neither side could exert their dominance in the second half.
Scotland’s best chance came when Kim Little delivered a pin-point cross to Julie Fleeting, but her Arsenal team mate couldn’t get the better of the French ‘keeper.
Anna Signeul said: “We played very well, particularly with such a young and inexperienced squad. Everyone worked so hard. Jane Ross in particular ran for 90 minutes up front, she was always available when we played the ball over the top and she thoroughly deserved her goal.
“France had a bit more possession, but we prevented them from creating chances. Our back four were really solid - Ifeoma Dieke and Rachael Small were probably our best players. Emma Mitchell did really well on her first appearance. It is a shame that she conceded the penalty, it was just a bit of inexperience to be honest, but she didn’t let her head go down and kept working hard.
“I was also very pleased to see Julie Fleeting back in the side after a run of injuries. She’s such a good target player and wins everything in the air. It was a big positive to welcome her back before the Euro qualifiers.
“It was important to put in such a strong performance before the qualifiers. Most people would make France the favourites to win our group, so it was encouraging, particularly for our young players, to prove that we can match them.”
Fay (GK) (C), Small, Mitchell, Dieke, L Ross (Murray, 67), Little, Sneddon, Fleeting (Dempster, 75), Jane Ross, Fernon, Lauder (Marshall, 85)
Unused subs: Lynn (GK), Jenna Ross, Docherty, Evans