Football / World Cup: Scotland's small step forward

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The Independent Online
Estonia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Scotland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

AFTER their 5-0 humiliation in Portugal last month, Scotland used last night's Group One tie in Tallinn to embark on a major rebuilding programme, but the foundations for the future looked distinctly insecure.

Kevin Gallacher settled Scottish nerves with his first international goal two minutes before half-time, converting a John Robertson cross, and Gallacher's perfectly measured through-ball allowed Celtic's accomplished midfielder, John Collins, to score the second on the hour. Scot Booth of Aberdeen, who came on for Robertson, gave the scoreline an air of respectability in the 73rd minute with an opportunist goal.

However, if the Scottish national coach, Andy Roxburgh, believed that the match would throw up several positive pointers towards the future, he was mistaken. Blackburn's Colin Hendry looked none too comfortable against a modest team who have not yet managed to score a goal in five World Cup ties.

Of the other inexperienced players on trial, the Aberdeen full-back Stephen Wright showed that he still has plenty to learn before developing his obvious potential. The rest of the Scottish side were simply competent, although Collins and Gallacher did show enough enthusiasm and invention to warrant further opportunities.

Yet it might all have been very different if Estonia had taken the lead as they threatened to do seven minutes before the interval. Toomas Kallaste smashed a left-foot volley off the underside of the bar with Bryan Gunn beaten. The ball stayed out and Scotland promptly capitalised.

Roxburgh described the match as 'a step in the right direction, although not necessarily a great leap forward. I'm pleased to have won a very awkward game. The conditions didn't favour us - a hard bumpy pitch and very warm - and that made it demanding on our players. After losing in Portugal we desperately wanted to win and also to have a look at individual players.'

ESTONIA: Poom; R Kallaste, Lemsalu, Prins (all Flora Tallinn), Kaljend (Lohjan Pallo), T Kallaste (Flora Tallinn), Borissov (Norma Tallinn), Kristal, Reim, Veensalu (all Flora Tallinn), Bragin (Norma Tallinn). Substitutes: Hepner (Kotkan TP) for Kristal, h/t; Pustov (Tornavan Pallo-55) for Veensalu 76.

SCOTLAND: Gunn (Norwich); Wright (Aberdeen), Boyd (Celtic), McStay (Celtic), Hendry (Blackburn), Irvine (Aberdeen), Gallacher (Blackburn), Bowman (Dundee Utd), Robertson (Hearts), McClair (Manchester Utd), Collins (Celtic). Substitutes: Booth (Aberdeen) for Robertson, 61; McLaren (Hearts) for Wright, 80.

Referee: T Hollung (Norway).

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