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Scotland women win promotion back to European 'A' division with gold in Poznan
A 2-0 victory over Belarus in the final of the EuroHockey Nations Championship II has won Scotlan's women promotion back to the top level of European hockey in two years' time.
Scotland coach Gordon Shepherd took his charges to Poland with a gold medal and promotion as the targets, as this was achieved with a controlled and disciplined final performance on Sunday afternoon.
Having celebrated defender Leigh Fawcett`s 50th cap, the Scots got down to the business of dominating the proceedings and Holly Cram almost provided the lead as her deflection beat the goalkeeper but narrowly went wide of the target.
Within a minute the Scots were ahead. Vikki Bunce caught the defence sleeping with a quickly taken free hit, she moved directly into the circle and beat the keeper with a vicious low shot. Scotland continued to make chances as Nikki Kidd twice had her effort thwarted by the keeper before the break.
After half time, Belarus came out intent on getting back into the game and had a couple of early penalty corners. The first was saved by keeper Abi Walker and the other was blocked and finally cleared by Fawcett.
The Scots then sealed the gold medal midway through the half. A pulsating move up the left involving Kidd, Sam Judge and Ali Bell fed the ball on to Cram whose shot was stopped illegally on the line by a defender. Catriona Ralph`s effort from the spot seemed to have been blocked by the keeper but the ball emerged to squirm over the line for the crucial second goal.
The Scots were content to play out the remainder of the contest to achieve well deserved promotion. To add icing to the cake, the Scots were given the fair play award and Walker the goalkeeper of the tournament.
Afterwards, a very happy Gordon Shepherd said:
"We're delighted to have won and got promotion to the 'A' division. It has been a very hard and long road but we've succeeded in reaching our target. We learned from the pool match against Belarus and produced an excellent performance today. We started a bit slowly in the competition but got the right result. We're over the moon and will enjoy the celebrations tonight."