Kaz Cuthbert on target again as Scotland reach Euro hockey semi-finals

Scotland are through to the semi-finals (pic: Duncolm Photography)
Scotland are through to the semi-finals (pic: Duncolm Photography)

Kaz Cuthbert and Scotland are just one game away from European hockey's top flight after defeating the Czech Republic 3-2 at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre on Tuesday.

The Western Wildcats and Scotland skipper got Scotland's second goal as they followed their opening win over Ukraine with another victory which guaranteed them a semi-final place at the EuroHockey Championship II tournament.

And with the top two sides in the competition going up, the Scots - whose squad also includes Cuthbert's Wildcats team-mates Kate Holmes and Becky Ward - now know that victory in that match against yet to be determined opponents will be enough to ensure promotion.

It was a tentative opening to the match with neither side able to create any clear openings, until Sarah Jamieson had an effort on the turn towards the end of the first quarter, but her low shot zipped past the left post.

Fiona Burnet was next to come close, she found space in the D but couldn’t get her shot away before being hounded by Czech defenders.

Right at the start of the second quarter Scotland goalkeeper Nicola Cochrane made an outstanding save low at her right post to stop Czech Republic from taking the lead.

Scotland then took over and dominated the remainder of the half, creating a number of chances to score. A swift counter attack by Louise Campbell found Jamieson bursting into the D, but she was smothered out by the defence and goalkeeper.

Then Charlotte Watson almost scored with an improvised overhead smash that bounced just wide of the post.

Campbell came so close as the half neared an end; her deflection from a fizzed pass from the right looped just over the bar.

Scotland took the lead right after half time and it came through a powerful Amy Costello penalty corner blasted against the back board. The Scotland and GB player sent an absolute rocket past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

The Scots were piling on the pressure and came close with a series of penalty corners. One of the routines paid off when captain Cuthbert dove to deflect the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0.

It was her third goal of the tournament, following her double in the 7-0 win over Ukraine, and meant a two-goal cushion for the Scots.

Cuthbert nearly struck another when her spin and shot was saved low at the start of the fourth quarter. Then the Czechs pulled one back through a lovely penalty corner routine with Adela Lehovcova applying the finish to pull it back to 2-1.

Scotland’s response was instant and it came through an exceptional deflected strike by Campbell that saw the ball fly into the roof of the net to restore Scotland’s two-goal lead.

Cochrane made a great save towards the end before a Czech counter attack saw Veronika Decsyova convert to make it 3-2.

Scotland, however, kept good possession as the minutes ticked away and saw the game out well to clock up their second win of the tournament.

Athough now through to the semi-finals, Scotland still have one more group match to play against Austria.

Scotland Women’s Head Coach Jen Wilson said, “I’m delighted to get the win tonight, the players have shown great progression and are showing their excellent qualities at this tournament.

"The quality of the goals were really pleasing, and to score our third right after Czech Republic scored their first shows the great reaction of the players. The players will enjoy this tonight but we have a very tough game against Austria tomorrow. We’ll look to continue our good performances.”