20/08/2008 Glasgow Scotland 0-0
Maik Taylor, Gareth McAuley (Michael Duff), Stephen Craigan, Jonathan Evans, Ryan McGivern, Chris Baird, Martin Paterson (Dean Shiels), Steven Davis, Sammy Clingan (Michael O’Connor), Chris Brunt (Warren Feeney), David Healy
Game Six – Scotland vs. Northern Ireland
Author: Tom Brogan
Wednesday 20th August 2008, Kick-Off 8pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
I wondered how long I could go without attending a nil-nil draw. I got my answer tonight. Trust Scotland.
The 7,000 Irish fans who attended helped to provide a bit of atmosphere for this friendly. I say ‘helped’ but really they provided it on their own. They sang, chanted and waved their flags constantly throughout the night, from before kick-off until the final whistle. A chunk of the Scottish support predictably booed ‘God Save the Queen’ as it played its role as Northern Ireland’s national anthem. Only The Sun attempted to make much of a big deal about that in the next day’s papers, claiming that ‘The Tartan Army would be reported to UEFA’. A guy in front of me stoically gave the Irish fans the finger for the duration of the anthem.
Tonight was the debut of Scotland’s new home strip. A kit that has apparently been modelled on the 1978 kit, thanks to its faux collar, which in actual fact looks nothing like the 1978 shirt. It’s my favourite Scotland strip for a while though. Mainly because they’ve made it much simpler, as well as having got the colour back to a more traditional dark blue shirt with white shorts and red socks.
This wasn’t much of a match. The two sides were well matched and there was very little to report on the first half.
The second half sparked the game into life, with Scotland initially looking like they might be able to break the deadlock. Darren Barr had a good header on target, but he couldn’t mark his debut with a goal.
Scott Brown, it’s safe to say, looked uncomfortable in his position out wide on the right, but that may also have been down to the treatment he was receiving from Northern Ireland’s left back McGivern. But after one reckless challenge too many in the 57th minute that was put to an end when he got his second yellow card and was sent off.
At that point it looked like Scotland might make the breakthrough, but it was more likely to be the visitors a few minutes later when substitute keeper Alan McGregor gave away a penalty. However he made amends by making a great save from David Healy’s well-struck spot-kick.
The latest Englishman to become a Scot made his appearance in the 62nd minute when Derby County’s Kriss Commons came on. From my days playing Championship Manager I remember that Commons was always a decent buy. A lot of people have doubts about us blooding English born players but the manager has to pick the best players available to him, so I don’t knock it. If it’s in the rules I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for it. He did little in his short time on the pitch, but by all accounts he’s a player who gives his all, so I’ll look forward to seeing more of him in the dark blue.
A flash shot from James McFadden well held by his Birmingham City club mate Maik Taylor was about the closest Scotland came to getting a goal.
The Irish fans remained in good voice throughout the match, despite the lacklustre encounter. Here they are, mocking us, the Scottish support for only turning up 21,000 strong.
Scotland: Gordon (McGregor 46), Alexander, McManus (Barr 46), Weir (Berra 72), Naysmith, Brown, Thomson (Robson 46), Darren Fletcher (Stewart 69), Morrison (Commons 62), Miller, McFadden. Subs Not Used: Marshall, Whittaker, Boyd, Steven Fletcher, Clarkson.
Northern Ireland: Taylor, McAuley (Duff 76), Evans, Craigan, McGivern, Baird, Clingan (O’Connor 58), Davis, Brunt (Feeney 55), Healy, Paterson (Shiels 46). Subs Not Used: Mannus.
Sent Off: McGivern (57).
Referee: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark).