Scotland vs Estonia Report

World Cup Qualifying Match
Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, Sat 29th March 1997, K.O.: 15:00

Scotland 2 (1) - Estonia 0 (0), Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, Scotland, 29/3/97, Kick Off: 15:00, Attendance: 17,996

SCOTLAND: Leighton, Burley, Boyd, Calderwood, Hendry, W. McKinlay, Gemmill, McStay, Jackson, McAllister, Gallacher, Subs: B. McKinlay for Hendry (64), McGinlay for Jackson (83)
Scorers: Boyd (25 mins), Meet (o.g. 53)

ESTONIA: Poom, Lemsalu, Kirs, Hohlov-Simson, Zelinski, Meet, Pari, Kristal, Reim, Oper, Viikmae, Subs: Rooba for Pari (55), Leetma for Viikmae (72) Arbeter for Zelinski (81)

Referee: B. Heynemann, Germany (evidently suffering from eyesight impairment as was his referees assistants)

Match Report

A windy and cloudy day saw the visit of Estonia to that historical venue for international football ...... Rugby Park, KILMARNOCK ! Hampden is still undergoing repair and renovation so other choice venues are being selected to host Scotland's matches.

The day started off well and the fans seemed to have got themselves well into the spirit for the match ! In fact, a party held at a local hotel prior to the match had seen a large number of spirits consumed by the London Scottish, Edinburgh Tartan Army, Ayrshire Tartan Army and various other stragglers.

A full house crowd made fans wonder whether such a 'wee' venue as Kilmarnock was indeed a suitable venue for a World Cup qualifying game, even one against Estonia. The teams came out and a dirge of a national anthem was piped out for Estonia - this was well respected after strict instructions from the announcer. Kilmarnock rather American style scoreboard was also showing the words of Flower of Scotland as our national anthem was played.

Off we kicked and almost immediately got ourselves into a bit of a mess. It took about 15 minutes for the team to start playing (perhaps that was when Gary McAllister woke up ?). It was clear that the Estonians were not there to play much football and were meting out a number of bruises to the Scotland players. Gemmill and Jackson were both badly fouled by Estonian defenders but the (pathetic) referee blew for fouls but didn't warn the Estonians, never mind booked them.

A few attacks were wasted before a goalmouth scramble saw the ball come off the bar and stay rebounding tantalisingly inside the 6 yard box until Tom Boyd finally managed to break the deadlock and nod the ball into the net to send Scotland 1-0 on 25 minutes.

There was cheering all round the stadium but this quickly turned to despair as the whisper went round that all the pies had been finished. A chorus of 'Who ate all the pies, ...' was well justified.

A heavy Estonian defence thwarted Scotland on several occasions. The Estonians themselves were keen on attacking on the break and Slim Jim Leighton was forced into a couple of saves. The game ploughed on and several attacks ensued but there was no real firepower at the crucial moment. Jackson came close with a low drive shortly before the break.

The second half saw Scotland begin to attack with more confidence with Jackson especially chasing round and pressuring for the ball on every opportunity. Unfortunately, Jackson is a bit of a numpty and looked much like a headless chicken.

A neat pass from Tom Boyd through to Kevin Gallagher in the 53rd minute was intercepted by an Estonian defender (Meet) and he managed to side foot the ball neatly into his own net - much to the annoyance of his teamates. Surely the game was sealed now. Two - Nil to the Scotland !!

The Estonians didn't give up however and fought hard right to the end. A superb free kick from just outside the area thundered off the Scotland bar and Jim Leighton made an excellent save towards the end when an Estonian attacker got free on his right. The defence was certainly weaker than during the first half - largely due to Colin Hendry who went off limping with 25 minutes to go. Calderwood is not so stable without Hendry beside him to steady things up.

The final whistle came as a relief for the fans who went home relatively happy with the days entertainment.

Verdict: Well earned victory. Referee / Officials were appalling throughout the match. Man of the Match - Leighton.


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