BITTERLY disappointed Irvine footballer Erin Cuhbert admitted Scotland had a”mountain to climb” to stand a chance of progressing to the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup.

She spoke out after they suffered a second straight defeat, going down 2-1 to Japan on Friday night.

And to rub salt in her wounds, she was denied a stonewall penalty in the second half.

Chelsea striker Cuthbert said: “We can’t let a top team go 2-0 up and think we can get back in the game easily. I’m bitterly disappointed we haven’t taken something from the game again.

Scotland sit bottom of Group D after two games and victory against Argentina tomorrow (Wednesday) is vital to have any hope of finishing as one of the best third-placed sides

Japan, ranked seventh in the world, hit the front through Mana Iwabuchi and doubled their lead from the penalty spot through Yuika Sugasawa. Scotland struck back late on, but Lana Clelland’s fine goal proved no more than a consolation.

Cuthbert admitted defensive errors cost and said: “It’s a collective thing. Starting from the front, midfield and defence. The game plan in the first half didn’t work, maybe because we sat off.”

Scotland had two penalty claims denied in the second half, when Cuthbert was bundled over in the box and then when the ball appeared to strike Risa Shimizu’s arm.

“It took me about 10 minutes to run off the kick on my ankle,” Cuthbert said. “I don’t know if she’s kicked the ball before she has kicked my ankle. It was definitely a sore one.”

As for being thwarted by Shimazu inside the penalty box later, she said: “I don’t know if it was deliberate, but I do think it struck her hand.”

In Junior football news, Kilwinning Rangers were dealt a hammer blow on Sunday when it was revealed that experienced striker Bryan Boyal was leaving to join Auchinleck Talbot.