Captain Rachel Corsie thinks the second half of Scotland’s 2-1 loss to England has reinforced their belief they can compete at the World Cup.
Shelley Kerr’s team lost in Nice to Phil Neville’s Lionesses in the Group D curtain-raiser in a markedly different game to the Euros opener two years ago, where England won 6-0.
The Auld Enemy went in two goals to the good at half-time, with the opener a penalty after a VAR-review controversially concluded Nicola Docherty had handled Fran Kirby’s cross.
Nikita Parris expertly despatched the spot-kick, before Ellen White added a second.
However, Claire Emslie’s second-half strike had England rocking and Aberdonian Corsie thinks it could be key in Friday’s second outing in Rennes against Japan.
She said: “It’s positive we ended on such a high.
“We came into the game and felt there were times we were on the front foot.
“It’ll be a totally different game against Japan. They play a very different style to England and will be very tough again.
“Physically we’re in a great place and towards the end of the game we felt we still had something (in the tank) to push for a second goal.
“We’ve come a long way. In the past we’ve been overwhelmed by teams of that stature and Japan fall into that bracket too, but we feel we can compete with these teams now.”
Scotland, playing in their first World Cup, were set to fly to Rennes today. Kerr and her staff were expected to debrief with their squad last night.
Three points could be enough to progress to the knock-outs, while four would almost certainly do it, so training will be focused in the coming days on getting something from the match against Japan, who are former world champions and were set to open their tournament today against Argentina.
However, Corsie already thinks the squad know the penalty and first-half performance allowed England, the world’s third-ranked side, to dominate the opening period.
She said: “It’s just a shame we didn’t get in to our rhythm sooner and it’s obviously difficult when you give a team like England 45 minutes to get the goals they needed to win the game.
“I think when you’re playing against the top teams it’s frustrating when a decision like that (the penalty) goes against you. They are so hard to break down and to get opportunities – you’re probably not going to get many in the game.
“To lose a goal that early and feel it was a little bit cheap, it’s hard.”
Evening Express columnist Corsie, who lost out in a challenge to Kirby in the build-up to White’s strike, added: “Personally I was disappointed with the second goal. I thought I could get there and hesitated at the last second and it’s fallen to Ellen.”
Despite their baptism of fire at the World Cup in the first half, Corsie revealed the mood in the dressing room at the break was “fairly positive” and everyone knew the key after the break was to get ball-players like Caroline Weir, Kim Little and Erin Cuthbert into the game to lift the pressure on the Dark Blues’ backline.
Corsie said: “In the second half we done that and you saw what we can do. We created a number of chances and got into good areas.
“The final ball could’ve been better at times and we didn’t do well enough to test (keeper Karen) Bardsley, but hopefully the goal we did get could be the difference when it comes to sneaking through at the end of the group.
“We felt after we scored we didn’t want to go gung-ho. We wanted to stay compact and we did that.
“We tried to get an equaliser. We just didn’t have enough to get there.”
Scotland actually started brightly in Nice, but on 13 minutes Docherty was penalised by referee Jana Adamkova after her hand diverted Fran Kirby’s right-wing cross.
Parris made no mistake to find the left top corner from 12 yards, giving the diving Lee Alexander no chance of getting there.
White soon brought a brilliant save from Alexander with her legs at the near post, before the striker headed home – only for that goal to be chalked off for offside.
England’s second came when Kirby broke a tackle from Corsie on the edge of the area and, with the ball dropping perfectly for her, White curled left-footed into the bottom corner past Alexander.
It was a sickening blow, but Cuthbert almost pulled one back soon after when she lashed across goal and inches wide on 42 minutes.
Right from kick-off for the second half, England had another goal ruled offside, with Beth Mead denied.
Scotland were much improved in the second period, with Cuthbert and Claire Emslie seeing plenty of the ball without there being much in the way of chances.
They finally pulled one back on 79 minutes. Emslie bursting by England left-back Alex Greenwood to smash Lisa Evans’ poked through ball past Bardsley from just outside the six-yard box.