Belfast Telegraph

Hampden turns on Levein after Scotland draw with Macedonia

By Richard Wilson

Scotland 1 Macedonia 1: A second draw in the space of four days at Hampden was a cause for disquiet, particularly since the performance was drab. Scorn was inevitable, and when footage of Craig Levein appeared on the stadium's big screens, he was booed by the home fans.

Craig Levein was seeking redemption. Last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Serbia left the Scotland manager an embattled figure, as intolerance with his conservative approach becomes entrenched. He was piqued with the assessment that Scotland's World Cup qualifying hopes were being undermined by his negativity.

The manager himself remained confident Scotland would qualify. He said: "I look at the situation just now. There are three teams on four points, we are two points behind and for me there is no need to get worried about the situation just now.

"If you look at the table it doesn't look damaging at all, does it? It isn't as bad as people might make out," he added.

"I am very positive about where we are going. You look at Serbia on Saturday, did you think they were better than us? I didn't."

Ivan Trichkovski had already seen one shot deflected wide before his cross was turned in by Nikolche Noveski. The centre-back was at least one yard offside, but good fortune often deserts a manager during periods of disquiet.

Passes went astray as desperation began to take hold. Only Macedonia were roused, often committing four men forward at a time – Allan McGregor, the Scotland goalkeeper, had to rush from his line to block Goran Pandev's close-range shot.

Nothing had worked for Scotland, but perseverance was not to be discounted. Just before half-time, Morrison poked a pass forward that allowed Jamie Mackie to beat the offside trap. His cross was turned in by Kenny Miller, and Hampden exclaimed its relief.

Scotland were not wholly at ease, though. A rapid Macedonia counter-attack demanded that McGregor rush from his goal to block Daniel Georgievski's shot. There was no caution from the visitors, since it was the right-back who raced upfield to attempt the shot on goal. Another effort, from Ferhan Hasani, bounced off the upright.

There was dissent in the stands but Levein added: "I thought the fans were great. They supported the team and at the end of the game they vent their frustration, I can completely understand that."

Scotland McGregor, Hutton, Webster, Berra, Dixon, Caldwell, Forrest, Maloney, Morrison, Mackie, Miller. Substitutes not used Marshall, Hanley, Rhodes, Adam, Snodgrass, Naismith, Cowie, Dorrans, McCormack, Foster, Phillips, Samson.

FYR Macedonia Bogatinov, Georgievski, Sikov, Noveski, Popov, Ibraimi, Gligorov, Demiri, Trichkovski, Pandev, Ivanovski. Substitutes not used Pacovski, Mojsov, Grncarov, Ristic, Tasevski, Lazevski, Hasani, Georgiev, Sumulikoski, Kristijian Naumovskii.

Referee S Karasev (Russia).

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