Football: Dodds rises to Scots' rescue

Scotland 2 Faroe Islands 1
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CRAIG BURLEY and Billy Dodds, each collecting his third goals at international level, gave Scotland a second Group Nine success in less than a week at Aberdeen last night.

However, they made hard work of it, and were forced to endure an uncomfortable final four minutes after Colin Hendry fouled Todi Jonsson. John Petersen's penalty spoiled Neil Sullivan's hopes of a shut-out on his competitive debut, leaving the Faroe Islands with a moral victory and Scotland three more points towards qualification.

Scotland's campaign now goes on hold until March, when they receive Bosnia and the Czech Republic in the space of five days. Dodds will miss the first fixture after a harsh caution for allegedly kicking the ball away.

His suspension soured the result for Craig Brown, the Scotland manger, who had only just been able to restore Burley to midfield after his two- game ban for being sent off during the World Cup.

Dodds, who turned Saturday's game against Estonia as a two-goal substitute, had been starting his first competitive match while Colin Calderwood's unease in Edinburgh led to Matt Elliott's return at the back.

Perhaps more significantly, in terms of the Scots' long-term prospects, Jim Leighton watched from the stand rather than from between the posts. His sudden retirement, after 91 caps, opened the way for Sullivan to stake his claim for the goalkeeping jersey.

With a less lenient referee, the Wimbledon player's first involvement could have been his last. With seven minutes gone, during which Scotland forced but wasted a couple of corners, Sullivan dashed to the edge of his area to challenge Jonsson as he pursued a through-ball.

The Faroese striker was cynically taken out, only for the Cypriot referee to adjudge that Elliott had been between the keeper and the goal. Sullivan avoided even a caution and saved comfortably as Oli Johannsen's free-kick careered off the defensive wall.

Scotland celebrated their reprieve by going in front after 22 minutes. A one-two on their left flank between Burley and Billy McKinlay left the former with a shooting opportunity, which he accepted clinically from 15 yards. The Faroese argued - with no little justification - that the game should have been stopped before he took aim, for there were two balls in the vicinity of the 18-yard box at the time.

Most of Scotland's better moments stemmed from Allan Johnston. After setting up Simon Donnelly for a shot which forced Jakub Mikkelsen into a save, the Sunderland player created the second home goal in first-half stoppage time. His centre from the left skimmed off Johannsen's head to Dodds, who headed home.

The moment was particularly sweet for Dodds, who was returning to the club who had deemed him surplus to requirements barely a month earlier. It also effectively nullified the game plan of Allan Simonsen, the former European Footballer of the Year who coaches the Islanders. Their previous game, a goalless draw in Lithuania last Saturday, had been hailed as a triumph of defensive organisation.

Brown introduced Ian Durrant for McKinlay after half-time, although as in the first half it was Simonsen's side who created the first hint of danger. Henning Jarnskor, who had just followed the Motherwell trialist Hans Frodi Hansen into the referee's notebook, ran at the Scottish defence before sending a powerful drive straight at Sullivan.

Elliott, a nervous shadow of the imperious figure he cuts for Leicester, was also shown the yellow card in a scrappy start to the second half. Scotland appeared unwilling or unable to extend themselves unduly.

A third goal almost arrived in a rare attack shortly after the hour. Donnelly laid the ball back cleverly into the penalty area, where it took an ungainly clearance by Julian Johnsson to prevent Dodds' forehead making decisive contact.

Johnston, seldom as menacing after the interval, claimed a penalty when he trundled under a challenge by Jens Kristian Hansen. Mr Kapitanis apparently believed he had dived yet neglected to caution him, and also spared Hans Frodi Hansen a second yellow and the inevitability of the red card after a crude foul on Donnelly.

Simonsen sent on the 17-year-old Jakup A Borg, who has been invited to a trial with Liverpool, in the push for a consolation goal. It arrived courtesy of Petersen's coolly taken spot-kick, forcing Scotland to settle for another single-goal margin against less than auspicious opposition.

SCOTLAND (3-4-1-2): Sullivan (Wimbledon); Elliott (Leicester City), Hendry (Rangers), Boyd (Celtic); Weir (Hearts), Burley (Celtic), McKinlay (Blackburn Rovers), Davidson (Blackburn Rovers); Johnston (Sunderland); Donnelly (Celtic), Dodds (Dundee United). Substitutes: Durrant (Kilmarnock) for McKinlay, h-t; Glass (Aberdeen) for Johnston, 79.

FAROE ISLANDS (3-5-2): Mikkelsen (Herfolge); H F Hansen (HB Torshavn); Johannesen (Tvoroyri), J K Hansen (B36 Torshavn); Thorsteinsson (B36 Torshavn), Petersen (B36 Torshavn), Jonsen (GI Gotu), Johnsson (Kongsvinger), Jarnskor (GI Gotu); Jonsson (FC Copenhagen), Arge (Aarhus Fremad). Substitutes: Borg (B36 Torshavn) for Arge, 68; J Hansen (KI Klaksvik) for Jarnskor, 79.

Referee: C Kapitanis (Cyprus).