Scotland defender Sophie Howard is glad she cost Scotland a goal at Hampden, instead of at their first World Cup.
Shelley Kerr’s Dark Blues beat Jamaica 3-2 last week to go into their pool opener with England in Nice on the back of a win.
Substitute Howard headed a late winner against the Reggae Girlz – after the Reading centre-back’s first touch had let in Khadija Shaw for her second of the game just after half-time.
The 25-year-old failed to control a short free-kick from defensive partner Rachel Corsie and said: “It was difficult but I have to deal with that ball better.
“I have watched it back several times and everyone makes mistakes – we don’t make them on purpose, but we learn from them and move on.
“I’d rather do it there than in France. Hopefully that’s it out my system now.”
Cue a redemptive first Scotland goal in front of more than 18,000 people.
Of her header, Howard said: “It was obviously my first international goal and the circumstances were great.
“After causing the goal for Jamaica, their second goal, it was extra special to then be able to score the winner and allow us to finish up with the winner before going to France.”
Scotland may not have been to a World Cup before, but Howard has.
Seven years ago, the Hanau-born player was in Tokyo, Japan, with Germany’s Under-20s, although she didn’t play.
Howard has a Scottish mother and English father so was eligible to play for all three nations.
She says her “roots are British”, although she regards Germany – where most of her close family and friends live – as her “home”.
Had things been different, she could have been in the Auld Enemy’s squad this weekend.
She said: “I was at a next generation camp (with England), which came through my club at the time.
“That was about three years ago.
“If it had gone further there may have been a choice to make.
“Once I came here (into the Scotland fold), it felt like the right place. I instantly got that feeling.
“I had a rough season with injury last year – a double hamstring tear.
“I got a lot of messages from the Scottish girls and I hadn’t known them that long – two or three years.
“There were constant messages to keep going because they knew I had several setbacks.
“That made it clear how much this team means to me and how much I mean to them as well. It makes you feel accepted.”
Howard knows if Scotland’s defenders do their job against England, and their other group opponents Japan and Argentina, they’re in with a chance of reaching the knock-out stage of the competition.
She said: “100%. At the back we know that if we don’t concede then we have a chance of not just drawing the game, but with the quality we have up top of scoring and hopefully winning games.
“That’s what we go for, we aim not to concede and then score.
“I know a lot of the English girls from playing in England or against them and I know we have the quality as well.
“Just because we are Scotland does not mean we are any worse off.
“We have a huge amount of quality in the squad and that makes team selection hard for Shelley, but it is good for the team.
“I definitely think we can compete.”