World Cup Football: McKinlay gives Brown lift-off

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BILLY McKINLAY and Colin Hendry secured a highly satisfactory winning start for Craig Brown, the new Scotland manager, in Valletta last night. Brown's permanent appointment was ratified by the Scottish Football Association 15 minutes before the Scots kicked off their final Group One game in Malta.

The SFA, who had appointed Brown as interim manager on a two- game basis, decided not to prolong the speculation over the identity of the manager any longer. And Brown was rewarded with a solid display by the Scots to end an otherwise unhappy World Cup campaign.

Now Brown hopes to lead Scotland into a new era, saying: 'The way the SFA international committee handled the appointment made me feel there is an exciting future for our game - and so did the result and performance against Malta.

'It was a very good result against a team who lost only 1-0 here to Portugal and went down 2-1 to Italy. There were several outstanding performances but Gary McAllister was majestic. His performance was arguably the best from a Scottish international that I can remember.'

If the SFA believed they had got it right, Brown certainly did with his selection of 24-year-old McKinlay as a potential source of goals from midfield. Just 15 minutes into his debut, McKinlay made his dramatic impact. Pat Nevin had caught the Maltese defence flat-footed with a swiftly taken free-kick wide on the edge of the penalty box.

He found McAllister, who sent the ball into the middle for McKinlay to lash a 25-yard volley past David Cluett. The second goal in the 74th minute brought Brown to his feet and a clenched-fist salute indicated that his reign had truly begun. McAllister popped up wide on the left to swing across a free-kick and Hendry rose high to send a superb glancing header past Cluett.

MALTA: Cluett (Floriana); S Vella (Rabat Ajax), Buhagiar (Floriana), Galea, Brincat (both Hamrun Spartans), Buttigieg (Floriana), Busuttil (Genk), Spiteri (Hibernians), Suda (Sliema Wanderers), Laferla (Valletta), Gregory (Sliema Wanderers). Substitutes: Saliba (Valletta) for Buhagiar, h/t; Scerri (Hibernians) for Suda, 74.

SCOTLAND: Leighton (Hibernian); McLaren (Heart of Midlothian), McKinnon (Motherwell), Durrant (Rangers), Hendry (Blackburn Rovers), Irvine (Aberdeen), I Ferguson (Rangers), McKinlay (Dundee United), Nevin (Tranmere Rovers), McAllister (Leeds United), Gallacher (Blackburn Rovers). Substitutes: Booth (Aberdeen) for McKinlay, h/t; Boyd (Celtic) for Durrant, 74.

Referee: P Vassilakis (Greece).

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