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Rachel Corsie: Scotland Women set high standard in opening Nations League matches – we must keep it up

In this week's column, Rachel writes about the tests against England and Belgium, and what it means to reach an individual milestone for Scotland.

Scotland Women's starting XI for the Nations League match against Belgium at Hampden.
Scotland Women's starting XI for the Nations League match against Belgium at Hampden. Image: SNS.

Scotland Women must look to maintain the high standard we set in our opening Uefa Nations League matches.

We started our campaign last Friday at the Stadium of Light with a 2-1 defeat to England before picking up a vital point after a 1-1 draw with Belgium at Hampden on Tuesday.

The games reflected the progress we have made as a team over the last year or so, as we seek to put in more consistent performances to pick up positive results.

Although we lost against England, it was a defeat where we felt like we deserved something after we went toe-to-toe with the reigning European champions on their home turf.

Kirsty Hanson, number 10, celebrates after scoring for Scotland in a Nations League match against England.
Kirsty Hanson pulled a goal back for Scotland in the 2-1 Nations League defeat against England. Image: Shutterstock.

We knew coming into the inaugural Nations League campaign what the competition was going to throw up. We are in a really tough group, but we feel we have shown that we can compete with them.

In previous meetings with top teams, we have competed but maybe haven’t done so consistently, so that has to be our aim throughout the rest of the campaign.

This window feels like another step in the right direction and has given us a confidence boost.

Scotland can be braver in aspects of game

It did feel like a relief to get a point against Belgium with the last-minute equaliser.

We were happy to get a point because we deserved something from the game, but to only get a point is a harsh lesson for us to take – as we had plenty chances to take all three.

It won’t be too long until we’re next together as a squad with the next round of matches taking place in late October when we face the Netherlands home and away.

The next camp being quite soon is ultimately a good thing because we have a quick chance to come back together to build on what we’ve achieved during this window and work on the areas of improvement.

The work rate and attitude – we’ve always had the willingness to work until the last minute – was pleasing.

Rachel Corsie celebrates with Sophie Howard, who scored the last-minute equaliser against Belgium at Hampden.
Rachel Corsie celebrates with Sophie Howard, who scored the last-minute equaliser against Belgium. Image: Shutterstock.

But our challenge for the next round of fixtures is to have more bravery to play on the ball and to dominate teams in certain areas.

We want to be better at keeping possession, creating more clear-cut opportunities and taking those chances – which can be more difficult to do against such tough opposition, but we are capable of it.

Against the Netherlands those improvements will have to be made. They are a challenging team, who are aggressive on and off the ball.

There will be an added psychological edge by playing each other twice in a matter of days, but that is the way the fixtures have fallen and as players we can try and use it to our advantage.

An honour to reach milestone

Against Belgium on Tuesday night I made my 142nd Scotland appearance which saw me move into the top five most-capped players.

It’s an honor to reach the milestone. I have been really fortunate to play at this level for a number of years, with March 2024 marking 15 years since I made my senior Scotland debut.

I have always wanted to keep pushing on and it has been a journey filled with ups and downs.

I still love the game and I don’t want to stop – even though I know I will have to at some point, but hopefully before that I can create some more good memories in a Scotland shirt.

Injury setbacks for Emma Watson and Caroline Weir

It was gutting to see Emma Watson leave the Scotland camp early due to a training injury and even more devastating to hear she has suffered an ACL injury.

Former Rangers midfielder Emma Watson, right, who is now at Manchester, has suffered an ACL injury. Image: Shutterstock.

The 17-year-old midfielder has had a brilliant year which saw her secure a move to Manchester United from Rangers. This setback is a real blow and it will be a difficult period of time for her, but I have no doubt that she will come back stronger.

Emma is at a club that will support her during her recovery and for somebody so young she has already created good habits which will benefit her during the process.

On Thursday, Caroline Weir’s club Real Madrid confirmed she also sustained an ACL injury during our Nations League match against Belgium.

I am devastated for Caroline, but like Emma, she has a good support system around her and will work extremely hard throughout her injury rehab.

FA WSL returns this weekend

It is a fast turnaround from the international break as the FA WSL season starts this weekend.

My league campaign starts at Villa Park as Aston Villa host Manchester United, and we are all looking forward to playing at our club’s main stadium again.

We started our season there last term – a 4-3 win over Manchester City – and it’s a game we all have fond memories of. It helped to set the tone for a successful campaign where finished fifth: our best-ever placing in the WSL.

It will be a tough first game as Man United were one of the best teams in the league last year and lead the way until the very end.

We will be right up for the game. We have recruited well and have a strong squad, who have high ambitions.

Aston Villa celebrate in front of the Villa Park crowd in last season’s opening day win over Man City . Image: Shutterstock.

Although we beat Man City on the opening day of last season, we probably didn’t follow that up with as consistent results as we would have liked. This season we want to get off on the right note and keep moving forward in the right direction.

Sky Sports Cup an opportunity for Aberdeen to reset

Aberdeen Women start their Sky Sports Cup campaign in the second round on Sunday when they travel to Hibernian.

The Dons suffered successive defeats – a 5-0 to Hibs and 4-0 against Celtic – going into the international break, so the cup match feels like a good opportunity to reset and start afresh.

Even though they suffered a heavy loss the last time they played Hibs in the league, it was a match which was evenly-contested before Aberdeen injuries and a sending off.

It will have been a learning experience for them as a young team and one they can aim to put to good use in the cup clash this weekend in Edinburgh.