England 2-1 Scotland: ‘Disappointment’ of defeat shows progress under Pedro Martinez Losa

23 September 2023 0 By Total Football News

Mary Earps punches away from Martha ThomasEngland needed goalkeeper Mary Earps to be in good form to thwart Scotland

They say timing in life is everything.

Eight hours before Scotland kicked off in the first iteration of the Women’s Nations League against England, the announcement came that head coach Pedro Martinez Losa had signed a contract extension until 2027.

It was a statement of the support, backing and confidence there is in the Spaniard’s vision for the national team, as another cycle of major tournament qualifiers commenced.

The performance that followed in the 2-1 defeat by the World Cup finalists and reigning European champions further emphasised the progression Scotland have made, particularly in the last six months, under the 47-year-old.

‘We shouldn’t be scared of anyone’

England were supposed to come out quick, be on the front foot and dominate – they’re the fourth best team in the world – in the rankings at least.

They are oozing with world-class players. Mary Earps – who was forced into stellar saves from Christy Grimshaw and Kirsty Hanson – is the reigning Fifa Best goalkeeper of the year and is nominated for the award again. Right-back Lucy Bronze, the opening goalscorer, kits out for Champions League winners Barcelona domestically. Chelsea forward Lauren James is one of the brightest prospects in the world game.

Scotland, though, had that gallus streak about them. While there was respect, which Real Madrid midfielder Caroline Weir alluded to in the pre-match presser, there was an air of confidence that they wouldn’t merely be participants.

Caroline Weir in despairCaroline Weir tried to get the better of Mary Earps again but to no avail

At the elite level, which League A of the Nations League certainly is, it comes down to the old cliche of fine margins. If only the crossbar didn’t rattle when Kirsty Hanson let fly. If only Rachel McLauchlan hadn’t lost track of Lauren Hemp. If only the referee awarded Martha Thomas a penalty after Millie Bright’s apparent shove.

It speaks volumes that the overriding emotion heading back up the road is disappointment. However, Scotland are allowed to feel like that after a showing where they not only matched their superior-ranked neighbours but had them rattled.

Goalscorer Hanson, who hobbled off after a player of the match performance, said: “We’re closing that gap now.” That was evident.

Just under a year ago, Scottish dreams of reaching the World Cup were quashed with a damp squib showing against the Republic of Ireland.

Battered and bruised, it took time for Martinez Losa’s side to rise off the canvas and land a few hits again. Performances against Australia, Costa Rica and now England have shown they’re now capable of going toe-to-toe with the heavyweights.

“If we perform the way we did tonight, particularly in the second half, then we can perform against any team in the world,” Grimshaw said.

“We’ve become a side that should not be scared of anyone.”

‘Proud’ performance shows Scots are ‘building’

Rachel Corsie and Christy GrimshawScotland captain Rachel Corsie could be proud of her team’s performance

Over time, Martinez Losa has managed to instil a mentality within the group where they believe they deserve their seat at the top table. It’s there for them to take.

With this new four-year deal, he will be expected to guide Scotland back to major tournaments. Plural, for a reason. This is still a budding relationship, but there is ever-increasing buoyancy. There is belief.

“We’re definitely building something,” Hanson added. “We have trust in him, he has trust in us, so it’s exciting and I cannot wait to see what’s to come in the next few years underneath him.”

For Martinez Losa, “this is where my heart is”. “It’s important we all know where we are and have a clear vision together,” he added. “This kind of game, people in Scotland I think will be proud of what the players did.”

As is always the case with Scotland, when things appear to be going well, whisper it.

But, as the Spaniard continues at the helm, there may be less brushing under the carpet and more booking flight tickets for the Tartan Army.