Caroline Weir scored the only goal of the game as Scotland beat Northern Ireland 1-0 in a keenly contested friendly at Seaview.
Manchester City’s Weir netted from the penalty spot on 78 minutes after Toni-Leigh Finnegan clipped Christie Murray.
Without several key players, NI impressed on the ball but struggled to create any clear-cut chances.
Kenny Shiels’ side were playing their first match since their historic win over Ukraine to reach Euro 2022.
Scotland, who failed to reach the finals next summer, rested several of their key players as they looked towards September’s World Cup qualifiers.
In front of 500 spectators enjoying the evening sun, there was a feel-good atmosphere pre-match as Northern Ireland returned to action for the first time since qualifying for Euro 2022.
Those in attendance were treated to a lively encounter which was settled by substitute Weir’s penalty, which meant Scotland extended their winning run against Northern Ireland to 10 matches.
Ultimately, the game was about preparation for September’s World Cup qualifiers, where Scotland take on Wales in their opener on 15 September and Shiels’ NI side take on Luxembourg on the same night.
Bright start fades out
Scotland pressed high from the off, immediately putting the hosts under pressure as Claire Emslie’s near-post effort was narrowly wide.
Missing Simone Magill and Rachel Furness, Kirsty McGuinness and Lauren Wade were tasked with leading the line for NI, supported by Marissa Callaghan, with the former causing problems down the left-hand side.
After a bright start, the play soon slipped into ‘end-of-season’ friendly mode, with both sides knocking the ball about with confidence on the Seaview turf without troubling the opposing defences.
Chloe McCarron did see a free-kick from the right-hand side of the area drift on to the roof of Lee Alexander’s goal, and Sarah McFadden had an effort blocked by Sophie Howard after the Northern Ireland defender threw herself at the ball from Rebecca Holloway’s cross.
At the other end, Everton forward Emslie showed her quality when she clipped the top of the crossbar from 20 yards and, in a bid to spark the game into life, Rachel McLauchlan fired an ambitious effort well wide of Jackie Burns’ goal as a solid but unspectacular half of football to a closed bang on the 45-minute mark.
Weir the difference at Seaview
Rebecca Holloway, who has impressed since coming in at left-back for the injured Demi Vance, found space in the area shortly after the restart but her low cross was cut out just before it reached the waiting Lauren Wade.
Birmingham City’s Holloway was involved again as she found Callaghan just inside the area but the NI captain couldn’t muster enough power on her shot to seriously trouble Alexander, however it was another well-worked move which showed the confidence that Shiels has instilled in his players.
After Lisa Robertson forced Burns into a smart save from long range, interim Scotland boss Stuart McLaren introduced Manchester City forward Weir in a bid to break the deadlock.
In contrast, Shiels, who had spoken about giving youth an opportunity to shine, turned to the domestic Irish League players who helped Northern Ireland reach a first-ever major tournament, with Louise McDaniel and Sam Kelly looking lively as the game progressed.
Kirsty Hanson and Fiona Brown then had chances before the deadlock was broken when Finnegan tripped Murray as the midfielder raced into the area when Laura Rafferty got caught in possession.
Weir stepped up to dispatch the spot-kick into the bottom corner, and the forward almost added a spectacular second in the final minute of normal time but her rasping effort was over the bar.
Shiels handed a debut to in-form Glentoran striker Kerry Beattie, who saw a low cross gathered by Alexander with fellow substitute Emily Wilson lurking, and Lucy Graham stung the palms of Burns in the final minute as Scotland triumphed in north Belfast.
N Ireland Wom
- 4RobsonBooked at 57mins
- 17RaffertySubstituted forWilsonat 81′minutes
- 16CaldwellSubstituted forFinneganat 45′minutes
- 7McCarronSubstituted forWatlingat 81′minutes
- 8CallaghanSubstituted forBeattieat 82′minutes
- 9WadeSubstituted forMcDanielat 61′minutes
- 11McGuinnessSubstituted forKellyat 61′minutes
- 5WestrupSubstituted forEddieat 79′minutes
- 16MurraySubstituted forGrahamat 90′minutes
- 6RobertsonSubstituted forWeirat 64′minutes
- 20HansonSubstituted forArnotat 79′minutes
- 19ClellandSubstituted forBrownat 45′minutes
- 18EmslieSubstituted forGrimshawat 90′minutes
Match ends, Northern Ireland Women 0, Scotland 1.
Second Half ends, Northern Ireland Women 0, Scotland 1.
Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Jaqueline Burns.
Attempt saved. Lucy Graham (Scotland) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt missed. Fiona Brown (Scotland) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Christy Grimshaw with a cross.
Attempt missed. Caroline Weir (Scotland) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Lizzie Arnot.
Substitution, Scotland. Lucy Graham replaces Christie Murray.
Substitution, Scotland. Christy Grimshaw replaces Claire Emslie.
Lee Alexander (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Emily Wilson (Northern Ireland Women).
Attempt missed. Fiona Brown (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Caroline Weir.
Attempt saved. Samantha Kelly (Northern Ireland Women) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Rebecca Holloway.
Chloe Arthur (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Toni Leigh Finnegan (Northern Ireland Women).
Substitution, Northern Ireland Women. Kerry Beattie replaces Marissa Callaghan.
Substitution, Northern Ireland Women. Emily Wilson replaces Laura Rafferty.
Substitution, Northern Ireland Women. Ciara Watling replaces Chloe McCarron.
Substitution, Scotland. Leah Eddie replaces Brianna Westrup.
Substitution, Scotland. Lizzie Arnot replaces Kirsty Hanson.
Goal! Northern Ireland Women 0, Scotland 1. Caroline Weir (Scotland) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.