A second-half strike from Ryan Carmichael proved crucial as Northern Ireland Under-18 Schoolboys team kicked off their 2019 Centenary Shield campaign with a 1-0 win over Scotland in Belfast.
Chances were at a premium at Seaview but Frankie Wilson’s young charges had the better of a cagey first session.
Andrew Whiteside came closest to breaking the deadlock only to be denied by Scotland stopper Lee Herbert just after 30-minute mark.
The visitors appealed for a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Owen Andrew appeared to be felled in the box but referee Richard White waved play on.
The danger signs were there for Scotland just minutes after the interval when Carmichael threatened from just a few yards out.
And just minutes later the Portadown youngster produced the definitive moment of the match when he gave his marker Josh Doig the slip and pounced to slam home after his initial header had been parried by goalkeeper Herbert.
Scotland threw everything at Northern Ireland in the closing stages but Carmichael’s goal was to prove decisive.
Giving his reaction after the game, boss Wilson said: “I’m thrilled to bits and delighted that we got the victory. The Centenary Shield is such a tough tournament and every result counts. The objective today was to win and that’s the bottom line.
“It’s now 14 games on the bounce that we’re unbeaten and that’s down to the players.”
He added: “Scotland, to their credit, threw everything at us but we defended resolutely and we went back to basics. I’m very pleased.”
Next up for the U18 Schoolboys is a trip to Aberyswyth to take on Wales (March 14).
Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys team against Scotland: Paul McLaughlin, Malachy Smith, Patrick Burns (c), Lewis McGarvey, Ruari O'Hare, Jake Corbett, Ryan Carmichael, Callum Ferris, Andrew Whiteside, Trai Hume, Liam Hassin.
Subs: Jack Bradley, Jamie Glover, Ruadhan McKenna, Callum McVeigh, Sam Robb, Josh Largo Elis, Calvin McCurry, Ethan Wynne, Josh McGreevy.