Scotland made it three wins out of three in their Women’s World Cup qualifying campaign as they beat Northern Ireland 2-0 thanks to goals from Jane Ross and Jen Beattie.
Within the first minute of the game, Scotland signalled their intentions as a neatly played ball found Jane Ross inside the Northern Ireland box, but the Vittsjo GK midfielder’s shot was blocked. But a minute later, Ross gave Scotland the lead.
The former Glasgow City midfielder latched onto a perfectly weighted ball from Kim Little, that split the Northern Ireland defence in half, before firing past Higgins in the Ireland goal despite the keeper getting a foot on it.
Glasgow City and Northern Ireland defender Julie Nelson was proving to be the last line of defence for the visitors even in the early stages of the game, as she first denied Kim Little space for a cross and then stood in the way of Jane Ross as the Scotland midfielder was set to break through one on one with the Irish keeper.
Despite the horrendous conditions and the Scotland players running into a wall of torrential rain, their passing play was superb around the box, but that final ball escaped them in part due to Nelson’s dogged and stubborn defensive performance.
Scotland did manage to breach the Nelson wall on 12 minutes as Kim Little fired the ball into the back of the net, but the whistle had already been blown for offside and the Romanian referee Cristina Dorcioman gave the Arsenal forward a talking too.
With the rain getting heavier by the minute, the Scotland fans ran up the back of the stands they housed to escape the constant deluge.
On 28 minutes, a 25 yard shot from Lynda Shepherd for Northern Ireland failed to trouble Gemma Fay in the Scotland goal, who in all reality had little to do in the first half.
Just a minute later, Scotland could have added to their lead as Lappin was free at the back post waiting for a cross ball to fall to her, but another last ditch interception from Nelson denied the Glasgow City midfielder the chance.
On 37 minutes, Emma Higgins denied Scotland a second goal with a point blank save through a penalty box crowded with bodies, but once again the offside flag was raised.
Three minutes before half time and Northern Ireland really should have been on equal terms with their hosts, as Sarah McFadden headed inches wide of Gemma Fay’s far post with the Scotland keeper left rooted to the spot.
Into the second half and a shot from Kim Little on 47 minutes whistled past the wrong side of Higgins’ goal post.
Scotland then had two great chances to add to their score in a three minute period, first through Sue Lappin on 54 minutes as she thundered her shot just wide off the goal. Three minutes later and a cross come shot from Frankie Brown nearly crept in at the back post, but a superb acrobatic save from Higgins denied the Hibernian player.
Just past the hour mark and Jane Ross broke through into the Northern Ireland box looking to get on the end of a heavily weighted pass, but Higgins raced off her line to close down the Scotland midfielder, who could only knock the ball past the keeper and out for a goal kick.
Higgins was in the action once again as she again denies Ross, as she raced off her line to snuff out.
With Northern Ireland stubbornly defending their goal, Megan Sneddon resorted to an audacious shot from some 30 yards out, but her shot sailed well over the bar.
As Scotland pressed forward looking to find a way through the visitors back line, they were awarded a corner and from the set piece the ball fell to Jen Beattie who stretched a foot out to power home from 12 yards out to double Scotland’s lead.
With chances few and far between for Northern Ireland, Aimee Mackin tried a shot from distance on 89 minutes, but as she struck her shot she slipped and the ball was comfortably gathered by Gemma Fay in the Scotland goal.
The last chance of the game fell to Jen Beattie, but her snapshot from just inside the box was deflected wide for a corner.
Scotland XI: Fay, L Ross, Lauder, Little, Sneddon, Beattie, Lappin, J Ross, R Corsie, Evans, Brown.
Scotland subs: Lynn, Crichton, Mulvey, McSorley, Love, Murray, Weir.
Northern Ireland: Higgins, Hurst, Vance, Caldwell, Nelson, Hutton, Shepherd, McFadden, Doran, Furness, Mackin.
Northern Ireland subs: Burns, Armour, Corry, McGivern, McMullen, McDowell, Callaghan.
Referee: Cristina Dorcioman