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?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing