Football: Dodds points way forward to play-offs

Bosnia 1 Scotland 2

APART FROM a Faroese fly in the ointment in the form of two late Estonian goals, the opening half of Scotland's two-game tour of the Balkans and Baltics saw ticks inscribed against virtually every item on Craig Brown's wish list.

The pluses kept piling up. Most obviously there were three points against Bosnia, previously Scotland's closest rivals for the Group Nine runners- up spot that could lead to Euro 2000. Then came the goal for each member of a promising new attacking partnership, if such adjectives still apply to Don Hutchison and Billy Dodds at the ages of 28 and 30 respectively.

To add to the positive picture, Scotland incurred no injuries or suspensions for what now becomes a crucial encounter with Estonia on Wednesday, a luxury probably unique during Brown's six years in charge of the national side. And finally, as newscasters are wont to say, the Czech Republic's victory in Vilnius left Lithuania needing to win at Hampden Park and hope that Bosnia also take three points at Ibrox in order to finish second.

Scotland will therefore step out in Tallinn with their objective in sharp focus. "We know that if we win, and Bosnia lose or draw away to the Czechs, we're in the play-off," said Brown, evidently counting Lithuania out of the equation. "But if this is our cup final, it's Estonia's World Cup final - their first chance to qualify for a major tournament - and they'll be fired up."

The Scotland manager recalled how he gathered his players together after their first competitive away win in 25 months. He told them he had been to three World Cups and two European Championships with the team, but this was "one of the best fighting performances" he had witnessed. The key word, in a country where one is loath to use the vocabulary of violence in relation to sporting achievement, was "fighting".

For all the litany of credit points, the truth was that Scotland battled through; they will play better and lose. Brown, taken by surprise when the Bosnian coach, Faruk Hadzibegic, broke with custom and practice by deploying a third striker, was forced to switch from his usual three-man defence to a four. The ploy left David Hopkin, an attacking midfielder, to face 90 gruelling minutes as an emergency right-back.

Moreover, Hadzibegic's strategy ensured that little was seen of Scotland's other nominal wing-back, Neil McCann, in an attacking context. Brown praised his rival's tactical ingenuity, not to mention his boldness. However, he was adamant that Estonia will not seek to "bust our system" by supplementing their usual attacking duo.

In the event it was Scotland's unusual attacking duo who made the difference in the Olympic Stadium. Throughout the Brown years, parsimonious defence has been their defining trait. His predecessor, Andy Roxburgh, had an embarrassment of midfield riches. In Hutchison and Dodds, playing together for only the second time, the Scots at last seem to have stumbled on a front-line combination of genuine potential.

Hutchison, born on Tyneside of a Scottish father, is the target man of the two, if only in the sense that his distributive skills enable him to act as a nerve centre for moves. He is a tall, powerful player who excels in the air, but his touch is that of a playmaker. He also has the temperament of a pit-bull terrier, which may explain why he did not flourish at Liverpool or West Ham.

Dodds, too, has known rejection, by Chelsea as a teenager and by Aberdeen (then under Brown's assistant, Alex Miller) only last year. When he kicked off the infamous three-second "match" in Estonia in 1996, he feared it might be the beginning and end of his Scotland career. Since being recalled last autumn, his impact has been so great that Brown now regards him as "my first-choice striker".

In October Dodds came on for the last 20 minutes against Estonia and scored twice to turn a deficit into a win. He promptly added what proved the decisive goal against the Faroe Islands before making one and scoring the other against Bosnia on Saturday.

In the 13th minute the diminutive Dodds put in a header from a corner which Mirsad Dedic could only parry. Hutchison pounced for his second goal in as many internationals.

After Bosnia had equalised with a brilliantly executed breakaway by Elvir Bolic - after Barry Ferguson's misplaced pass had taken Scotland from a position of pressing at a corner to conceding a goal in a matter of seconds - Neil Sullivan capped his best display for Scotland by touching Sergei Barbarez's shot on to a post.

The experience of players like Colin Hendry and John Collins was carrying Scotland at that point. Then Dodds took over. After dispossessing Mirsad Hibic, the Dundee United man set off towards goal. With the ball on the left foot he normally uses only for standing on, he contemplated rolling it wide to McCann. Brown confessed he was imploring him to "pass it, don't shoot", upon which Dodds let fly from 20 yards.

The result was "a goal fit to win any game", according to his manager; not only Scotland's 100th in this competition but also Dodds' fourth in 10 caps, half of which came as a substitute. Yet among the players at least there was to be none of the wild partying which has followed, and on occasion preceded, past Scottish successes abroad.

The squad flew north yesterday having heeded a management request to retire to their beds at an hour some of their predecessors would have found insultingly sensible. Brown said: "I put it to them: `Why waste the chance to kill off the group'?" Even if his plea fails to elicit the desired response on Wednesday, two games in Glasgow next month should set the seal on a play-off place for Scotland.

Goals: Hutchison (13) 0-1; Bolic (23) 1-1; Dodds (45) 1-2.

BOSNIA (4-3-3): Dedic (Derzelez Zenica); Joldic (Sloboda Tuzla), Konjic (Coventry), Hibic (Sevilla), Mujdza (Hajduk Split), Halilovic (Altay), Barbarez (Borussia Dortmund), Besirevic (Osijek); Topic (Monza), Kodro (Alaves), Bolic (Fenerbahce). Substitutes: Mujcin (Croatia Zagreb) for Halilovic, (61); Repuh (Bursaspor) for Joldic (77), Demirovic (Istanbulspor) for Mujdza (80).

SCOTLAND (3-5-2): Sullivan (Wimbledon); Hendry (Rangers), Calderwood (Aston Villa), Weir (Everton); Hopkin (Leeds), Burley (Celtic), Ferguson (Rangers), Collins (Everton), McCann (Rangers); Hutchison (Everton), Dodds (Dundee United). Substitutes: Dailly (Blackburn) for Calderwood, h-t; Gallacher (Blackburn) for McCann, 74; Durrant (Kilmarnock) for Ferguson, 76.

Referee: N Levnikov (Russia). Bookings: Bosnia: Halilovic, Mujcin. Scotland: Sullivan, Hutchison.

Man of the match: Hutchison.

Attendance: 26,000.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
books The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
musicManagement confirms that rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?