SAN MARINO: Bus Driver, Plumber, Postman etc ...
SCOTLAND: Leighton 7, Calderwood 7, Boyd 7, McLaren 6, Hendry 7, Collins 7, McAllister 7, Jackson 6, Nevin 3, McGinlay 1, Shearer 2. Coach: Craig Brown.
Subs Spencer and McKinlay for Shearer and Nevin.
Scorers: Collins (34)
A truly piss poor performance from Scotland, showing no attacking imagination whatever. If we play this dire v Greece and Finland we can forget qualification.
Defence was solid enough, but only because SM refused to come forward in any numbers. Leighton made one good save from a free kick on target, and although one SM shot went narrowly wide all the others were blooters miles past or over, from way out. Calderwood got down well to diving header the 2nd face-saving goal 5 minutes from time, and Boyd was perhaps our most threatening attacker, one of the few capable of moving forward and making space and unlucky not to score when he cracked a 20 yarder off the outside of the post. McLaren and Hendry solid enough as usual: Hendry perhaps more reliable, but McLaren seems to use the ball better out of defence.
Collins, McAllister and Jackson were busy enough in midfield but struggled to make chances against a well-organised SM defence. Collins did well to score, picking the ball up midway in his own half and simply running through everything, correctly deciding not to pass and finally rounding the keeper on the edge of the box and slotting home. In the 2nd half McAllister sent in a good volley from 10 yards from a (rare) defensive mistake, but the keeper was equal to it.
The attack was simply rubbish. Nevin seemed hungry enough and went off on a lot of mazy runs, but they usually led nowhere, or he forgot to take the ball with him. His last mazy run was into the dugout to be substituted. Shearer was totally anonymous, never looked like getting into a scoring position from the crosses. McGinlay was completely outplayed by the big SM captain, no 6, who never let him win a ball in the air. No value added from him either in the air or on the ground.
The SM keeper was wee but competent, though in the first half especially he had a tendency to wander off his line and our midfield should have been alert to two or three chances for a long chip. All in all SM were well organised and it's a pity they didn't try to attack more as they might have got something. They should raise their ambitions and at least go for a goal, otherwise how will they ever get the win that eludes them?
Pa Broon needs to forget about the boys who have "never let us down" or who win man of the match awards while playing on the losing side in English lower division games, and start picking form players. If we don't have an effective target man like Drunk'n we should stop playing pointless crosses. Spencer should have been on fron the start and should have been playing in the McCoist zone looking for breaks in the penalty area.
We need someone who can get to the byeline, confuse a defence and open up spaces - surely this was the game to throw in McLaughlin or McCann and give them a spin? Is Booth not available? We also need someone who can crack in a shot from 25 yards. McAllister can do this but played too deep. Ian Ferguson is the kind of madman who would be handy for that, hopefully he will soon re-establish himself in the Rangers team. Ian Durrant is on good form and I would like to see him play alongside Collins in midfield, as I am sure this would be a skilful and creative partnership. Thay could then let McAllister roam to the edge of the box and have a go. Also when Davie Robertson is fit he should be given a run as he and Boyd would be dangerous coming forward on the flanks - Robbo also has a terrific shot.
All in all a depressing night, less than 2,000 in the mostly uncovered ground on a chilly night, a few score watching from outside the ground, and one of the most uninventive Scottish performances I have ever seen. Our hosts were friendly enough, although there was a story going round that a curfew was declared in Rimini following a car getting smashed up by Elgin lads after it ran over a Scottish fan.
by Kenny Bell