With the 2019 Women’s World Cup on the horizon, Royals defender Sophie Howard scored Scotland’s winning goal in a 3-2 win against Jamaica as they ended their preparation fixtures in winning style in front of an 18,555-strong crowd at Hampden Park – a record home attendance for the side.
With the game poised at two-apiece, midway through the second period, Howard was left unmarked from a corner and looped a header back across the face and in – her first international goal and ultimately the winner.
It came on the occasion of her 14th appearance for the senior Scottish team - born in Germany and twice a representative at Under-20 level, she switched her allegience to Scotland in 2017.
For the Royals defender and her compatriots, it will be a first ever taste of the World Cup when they kick off against England in their first group game on 9th June at the Stade du Nice. Never before have the Scots qualified for the finals tournament; they will face stiff competition in their pool against the Lionesses, Argentina and Japan – the latter being 2011 World Cup winners and then runners-up in 2015.
Jamaica – who have also qualified for their first World Cup this summer – initially led when danger-woman Khadija Shaw rasped in from the edge of the area.
It was the start of a see-saw spate of scoring. Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert chanced her arm from the best part of 30 yards and levelled spectacularly, before Manchester City attacker Caroline Weir placed in a stunning free-kick from the edge of the area to turn the game on its head.
Shaw pulled the game level again early in the second period when she caught half-time sub Howard in possession in the centre circle – she galloped downfield and calmly converted to re-establish parity. Her 29th goal in just 21 games for the Reggae Girlz.
But Howard made amends for the error by popping up with the winner. A well-placed header left stopper Nicole McClure with no chance; it proved to be a well-deserved winner.
Now, the Scottish squad make their way to France; after their inaugural game against England – where Howard could line up against fellow Royal Jade Moore – they then move on to face Japan in Rennes, before finalising their group fixtures against Argentina at the Parc des Princes in Paris.