Scotland v Gibraltar: Scots beware if goal-hungry fans get on their back

Their opponents have conceded 21 in four games, but scoring has not come easy to Gordon Strachan's side

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The Independent Football

Patience is not an attribute usually associated with Scott Brown, Celtic’s combustible captain who is due to lead Scotland against Gibraltar this evening. The expectation of those who will gather at Hampden is for Scotland to score a lorry-load of goals against a side who have conceded 21 in four games.

In their last outing Gibraltar, now managed by David Wilson, a former Kilmarnock trainee, restricted Germany to four goals, but that was due largely to German inefficiency – the world champions had 36 attempts on goal. Four goals would seem the minimum required to please Scotland’s fans but scoring has not come easy to Gordon Strachan’s side and Brown believes the players must ensure they keep to their game-plan if they fail to score early and the crowd begins to voice its frustrations.

“We will have to be patient,” said Brown, who is set to return to the side having sat out Wednesday’s friendly win over Northern Ireland and take over the armband from Darren Fletcher. “It’s where the maturity of the lads comes in. We have to keep the ball. If a few people get on our back we can’t just keep lumping balls into the box every few seconds. We have to play our game, get the ball down and play good attractive football.”

Scotland have not scored three times in a game for three years and have not bettered that since netting six against the Faroe Islands nine years ago. Gibraltar are arguably the weakest side Scotland have ever faced but Strachan yesterday recalled the tension of playing San Marino for the first time in 1995 and being kept out for an hour until he scored a penalty past a “bus driver”.

Brown is likely to be the sole home-based player in Scotland’s line-up, unless club-mate Craig Gordon is preferred in goal to David Marshall. His experiences in the domestic game will be better suited than usual to international duties. Asked if he had ever faced a game in which his side had been such overwhelming favourites, Brown replied simply: “Celtic.” He added: “We’re expected to win every game at Celtic.”

Brown was recently pictured on the front page of a tabloid newspaper slumped in the street after a night out in Edinburgh. Ronny Deila, the Celtic manager, admitted his captain’s actions were “not a positive example” but also backed Brown as the fittest member of his squad. Brown flat-batted the issue yesterday, saying: “I’m just worrying about what I do for Scotland. I think I work as hard as anyone else.”