As the nail-biting hour fast approached, Scotland finally got the breakthrough they deserved against Macedonia this afternoon. It ended up 2-0, but there could have been several more in the second half (the least said about the first, the better), and Maloney almost grabbed a very sweet third in the closing minutes. Scott Brown and James McFadden were the goal heroes in the end. I didn’t think I’d get to see the match, but thankfully an Aussie bar in Exeter had it on a big screen and several small ones. So a few In-ger-land lager louts aside, a good time was had -- plus a link-up by mobile to a friend watching from Dumbarton.
Scotland’s slim chances of further progress in the World Cup now rest on that game against the Dutch at 7pm on Wednesday, given that Norway look very likely to take six points from their two outings, the first of which is in Iceland tonight. There have been 1-0 Scotland victories against Holland and France (twice) in recent memory, so extraordinary feats against world-beaters are not out of the question, and the Orange have nothing particularly to play for. But that creates its own problems. ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Scotland’ are virtually parsed together in football terms, so it would be a brave person to predict a win against the odds. Oh, why not. 2-1 Scotland. And you can always buy me a pint if I’m wrong.
Not much encouragement elsewhere today. Dumbarton were not in action, but the home game against Stenhousemuir next Saturday demands a return to results. Meanwhile the Sons' Youth Development Initiative games this weekend were rained off. Exeter went down 3-0 against Gillingham, showing how tough League One is going to be, and my namesakes Barrow, who haven't had a bad start to the season, got tanked 6-1 by Rushden and Diamonds. Ouch. I haven't heard how Southall got on yet, but there lack of a home ground puts them in peril again in the depths of the Middlesex County Football League Premier Division. At least I'll finally get to watch The Damned United this evening.