Scotland Women have been relegated to EuroHockey Championships II after losing their final Pool C game, 1-0 to the Czech Republic on Saturday.
Scotland had been given a lifeline after Ireland crashed 7-2 to Spain in the preceding game, with Scotland just needing to win to stay up, but an excellent performance by Barbora Cechakova, the Czech goalkeeper and Scotland’s failure to convert 12 penalty corners saw them join the Czech Republic in the second tier in 2019.
Scotland had an early warning of the Czechs’ potential, Klara Hanzlova’s shot rebounding off the outside of the left post in the fourth minute, with former Surbiton goalkeeper, Amy Gibson also needing to make occasional saves.
Scotland dominated possession, but a combination of the solid Czech defence and Cechakova’s heroics saw Scotland’s frustration increase.
The breakthrough came a minute before half time, another Gibson save this time sending the ball to Teresa Mejzlikova, who unleashed a shot from just inside the edge of the circle and found the backboard to the delight of the lowest ranked team in the tournament.
Mejzlikova sported a blue protective mask after breaking her nose earlier in the tournament but forgot about the pain and inconvenience whilst celebrating the goal.
Scotland had had another warning a short time before the goal bound attack when Surbiton’s Robyn Collins lost possession in front of the Scottish goal but the Scottish defence managed to clear the danger.
Scotland’s frustration increased during the second half, having failed to take advantage of Jindriska Reichlova’s green card in the first quarter, they also were unable to build on Mejzlikova’s spell on the naughty step after she saw green in the 31st minute.
Still a goal down going into the fourth quarter, and with Hanzlova shown a five minute yellow card, Scottish Head Coach, Gordon Shepherd, elected to take Gibson off and give Bex Condie the kicking back bib.
The tactical move made no difference as the Czech defence and goalkeeper held firm. The Czechs had a chance to double their lead shortly after Gibson was removed, but Condie made a brave bare left hand save from Mejzlikova, the impact forcing her to shake her hand vigorously for a few seconds.
The final hooter sounded to condemn Scotland to the second division, a particular disappointment with Scotland Men having won promotion to the top tier for 2019. Scotland will join British rivals Wales in EuroHockey Championships II.
Collins came on as a fourth minute substitute, with former Surbiton player, Kate Holmes in the Scottish starting line-up.
Scotland will regret that they only scored two goals in the tournament, one from a penalty corner against Germany and a penalty stroke against Spain and that they were unable to score from open play.
Ireland, promoted with the Czech Republic in 2015, will stay in the top division for 2019.
Scotland and the Czech Republic will be replaced by Belarus and Russia, who won promotion from EuroHockey Championships II in Cardiff earlier in August.
More information on the EuroHockey Championships can be found in the Match Centre section of the FIH website here
The Scottish Hockey match report can be found here