Collins eases Scotland's anxiety

San Marino 0

Scotland 2

Scotland ran into the formation spoiling they had anticipated in the Serravalle Stadium last night, though responsibility for a frustrating Group Eight match has to be laid equally at the door of Scotland's dearth of ideas as to how to counter it.

Having scored an early goal - a fine solo effort by John Collins - Craig Brown's side seldom looked capable of adding to it before Colin Calderwood headed in Gary McAllister's pass with five minutes remaining.

If the setting was unreal - a municipal park at the foot of the mountain, where the marching band all but outnumbered home supporters - there was almost a start to match.

With 10 minutes gone Massimo Bonini's pass found Marco Mularani goal- side of Alan McLaren, only for the midfielder to drag his shot wide from 15 yards.

Any anxiety Scotland felt was assuaged when they went ahead nine minutes. Collins taking possession deep in his own half, spotted that his strikers were coming back from offside positions and decided to go it alone.

Despite encountering several lunges, including one outside the box that earned Pier Luigi Benedittini a caution, Collins maintained his balance to prod his eighth goal in 24 internationals into an unguarded net.

Scottish relief was almost tangible, for the strategy of cutting crosses back from the byline had scarcely been implemented until then.

Facing the play, the stocky Benedittini and his not-so-thin blue line coped comfortably. A cleverly curled free-kick by Marco Mazza on the half- hour, which forced a fine save from Jim Leighton, underlined the need for a second goal.

All too often the slick approach work of Collins and McAllister was wasted by a final ball which literally played into the keeper's hands.

When a centre by Pat Nevin did clear him in the 35th minute, to be headed back across the six yard area by Tommy Boyd, John McGinlay planted a free header wide.

Even at 35, Bonini showed flashes of the ability that once saw him partner Michel Platini with Juventus. More importantly, he organised and cajoled his amateur colleagues, which ought to have made his withdrawal due to injury a signal for the Scots to press home their advantage in the second half.

Theory and practice can be uneasy bedfellows, however, and the massed Sammarinese tenaciously continued to compress the space in which Scotland strove to play. The next opportunity did not arrive until the hour mark, when Boyd's cross was mis-headed by Mirco Gennari straight to McAllister, lurking near the penalty spot. The captain's instantaneous volley was tipped over by Benedettini, who drives buses for a living.

Boyd's shot then hit the outside of a post, but the 600 Scotland fans had just begin chanting "What a load of rubbish" when Calderwood smoothed their path towards next summer's finals.

SAN MARINO (1-1-3-5-1): Benedettini (AC San Marino); Guerra (AC San Marino); Gobbi (AC Cattolica), Canti; Gennari (both SS Juvenes); Della Valle (SS Secchiano), Manzaroli (AC San Marino), Mazza (SS Grosseto), Bonini (AC San Marino), Mularoni (SS Juvenes); Bacciocchi (SS Santarcangiolese). Substitutes: Matteoni (AC Cattolica) for Bonini, h-t; Gualtieri (Valbruna Gabicce) for Mularoni, 71.

SCOTLAND (3-4-3): Leighton (Hibernian); McLaren (Rangers), Hendry (Blackburn), Calderwood (Tottenham); Jackson (Hibernian), McAllister (Leeds), Collins, Boyd (both Celtic); Shearer (Aberdeen), McGinlay (Bolton), Nevin (Tranmere). Substitutes: Spencer (Chelsea) for Shearer (67), McKinlay (Dundee United) for Nevin, 78.

Referee: L Loizou (Cyprus).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £23,000

£13500 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning, Bolton base...

Recruitment Genius: Client Account Executive

£23000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Account Executive is r...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Executive

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Full Time position available now at a growing...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future