Debuting third tier striker puts an end to Scottish resolve
Sat. 27 May 1989
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Ref.: Michel Vautrot (FRA)
L1: Erik Fredriksson (SWE)
L2: Alexis Ponnet (BEL)
This was the second game of the 1989 edition of Rous Cup, a mini-tournament which by now was running for a fifth successive year, in the wake of the decision to abandon the ‘Home nations’ (British) tournament after its 1983/84 edition. Originally, it had meant continued annual meetings for Scotland and England, though this was the third successive year in which a South American country had been welcomed to take part, thus labelling it a three-team tournament. It would turn out to be the last Rous Cup ever staged.
While Brazil (1987 winners) and Colombia had taken part in the two previous editions, Chile had this time been invited to keep the two home nations company. Argentina had originally been asked, but they’d turned down the invitation. Chile had already played out their first game of the tournament, keeping England to a scoreless draw in London four days earlier. It was time for the oldest fixture on the international football calendar to take place again, some 117 years after their inaugural meeting, a 0-0 affair in Glasgow.
It appears unclear exactly how many players had been selected for the participating nations’ ‘tournament’ squads, but from reliable sources we have it that five players were allowed on the substitutes’ bench, much like in a typical qualifier.
Incidentally, the game took place a week after the Scottish FA Cup Final, also played out at Hampden, where Celtic had beaten their old enemy Rangers in a single goal tie (Joe Miller the scorer). Four Celtic players were part of the Scotland squad, while Rangers had three, in addition to three also in the English squad. Celtic manager Billy McNeill was one of the people watching from the VIP area.
Scotland team news
The Scottish’ last appearance had been their 2-1 home win against Cyprus in the April 26 qualifier here at Hampden. It had brought them four points clear at the top of their qualification group table, though Yugoslavia had since narrowed that down to three following a 0-0 draw in France.
Their squad of 16 on this occasion was somewhat different due to injuries, although it would appear that the core of their team remained. On the injured list were players such as midfielders Ian Ferguson and Jim Bett, as well as forwards Charlie Nicholas, Gordon Durie, Kevin Gallacher and also Graeme Sharp, who could possibly have been in contention for a place in the squad. Scotland had even lost influental defender Richard Gough through injury after his call-up, and so Roxburgh had drafted in Aberdeen full-back Stewart McKimmie as a possible replacement. McKimmie, so far uncapped, was rumoured to be unsettled at the Scottish east coast club, and could perhaps see this as an opportunity to put himself in the shop window should he get game time.
It was also thought that striker Ally McCoist was carrying a knock which he had picked up during the domestic Cup Final. He was being worked on by Scotland and Celtic (!) physio Jimmy Steel, who would eventually declear McCoist fit and available.
The four players coming into the squad since Cyprus were midfielders Peter Grant (Celtic, another possible debutant), Murdo MacLeod (Borussia Dortmund) and Bobby Connor (Aberdeen), as well as striker Alan McInally of Aston Villa.
Scotland had played with both four and five men at the back during the last eight-nine months, but their solitary attempt at 5-3-2 had happened only during their 2-0 friendly loss in Italy in December, and so it seemed likely that they would turn out in a 4-4-2 once again.
As for absentees, well, it could be noted that some from their old guard were non-features: veteran centre-backs David Narey (Dundee United, 32) and Willie Miller (Aberdeen, 34), as well as wide midfielder Gordon Strachan (Manchester United, 32), had not been selected.
England team news
Four days earlier, England had only managed a goalless draw at home to Chile in the first match of this mini-tournament, and they were shortly after, in fact only next Saturday, due to face Poland at Wembley in a crucial qualifying match. Still, the annual meeting with Scotland was not something which England would ever take lightly, so they were looking to field an inspired eleven for this Hampden showdown.
Their previous match ahead of the Rous Cup had been their 5-0 demolition of Albania at Wembley on April 26. That match had come just 11 days in the wake of the horrible Hillsborough tragedy, something which had meant Liverpool winger John Barnes had not wanted to feature. However, his forward partner at club level, Peter Beardsley, had played against the Albanians, and indeed scored twice. Due to the Liverpool v Arsenal match the night before, neither player had been selected for this fixture.
Since the Albania match, five players had left the squad. They were midfielders David Rocastle (Arsenal) and Steve Hodge (Nottingham), as well as forwards Gary Lineker (Barcelona, likely to have been out with a knock), Alan Smith (Arsenal) and said Beardsley.
Brought into the squad in order to replace the players who were absent, were midfielder Trevor Steven (Everton) and forwards John Fashanu (Wimbledon, who had won his first cap in the 0-0 draw with Chile), Tony Cottee (Everton), Nigel Clough (Nottingham) and Steve Bull (Wolverhampton, another possible debutant, and possibly only the fifth ever player from the third tier to win a full England cap). Birthday boy Paul Gascoigne (22 today) kept his place.
England had so far played seven games in all since the European Championships last year, and they’d lined up in a 4-4-2 formation in all of them. Unsurprisingly. This was unlikely to change for this visit to Glasgow.
The Rous Cup had invited continental officials to take charge of the three fixtures, and Swede Erik Fredriksson had refereed England v Chile. On this occasion, Fredriksson was seen on the line, working as one of the referee’s two assistants. The man in the centre was well-reputed Michel Vautrot, 43 year of France. Vautrot was about as experienced as it got when it came to refereeing at the ultimate level: He’d made his international debut back in 1977, when he’d been placed in charge of a 1-1 friendly draw in Spain between the hosts and Hungary. More than 12 years on, he was now operating his 28th (!) international, and this was his second Scotland v England fixture. He had refereed in the inaugural Rous Cup in 1985, when Scotland had beaten their arch rivals 1-0 courtesy of a second half Richard Gough goal.
Monsieur Vautrot had a fine CV. He had refereed two matches in the 1982 World Cup (the group stage match between Italy and Poland, 0-0, and the second stage game between Belgium and the Soviet Union, 0-1), he had overseen the 1984 European Championships group stage match between Portugal and Spain (1-1), as well as having a total of 14 European Championships and World Cup qualifiers behind him. His most recent assignment had been the Group 3 battle between Turkey and the Soviet Union (0-1). However, there seemed to be little doubt about his finest hour: He’d been given the prestigeous task of running the rule over the final of the 1988 Euros, when the Netherlands had defeated the Soviet Union by two goals to nil. He’d also refereed the group stage match between West Germany and Spain (2-0) in that tournament.
It was not just on the international stage that Vautrot had a solid list of fixture to look back on: In club football, he’d taken charge of the 1986 European Cup final between Barcelona and Steaua Bucharest, where the latter had triumphed on penalties after a scoreless 120 minutes.
This was the 107th clash between Scotland and England. The stats were only mildly favouring England, with 42 wins to Scotland’s 40. 24 matches had ended in draw. They had met once a year since 1947, and in 1973 even twice due to the 100th anniversary of the Scottish FA, but events would unfortunately have it that this was to be the last fixture between the two for a good few years due to off-the-field trouble.
Hooliganism would sadly marr the occasion, with no less than 96 arrests being made inside the stadium, with an estimated further 150 outside. This happened even though the English FA had not issued any tickets for English fans, though some away supporters had purchased their tickets through the Scottish FA.
It was a warm late May afternoon in the largest city in Scotland, around 22-23 degrees. At pitch level, there appeared to be no wind to speak about, and the playing surface seemed to be a fairly even one, even if there were parts which had apparently taken some battering during the Scottish Cup Final the previous weekend. Hampden was reasonably well packed with people, just as you would expect for a clash of this magnitude.
On security grounds, the maximum crowd allowed for the game had been limited to 70,800, though far from all tickets had been sold.
The English had travelled north without a back-up goalkeepers’ kit, only having a blue one available to them, obviously clashing with the colours of the hosts, and so it would eventually turn out that Peter Shilton played the full 90 minutes wearing a Scotland jersey. Not that this was something new to the highly experienced custodian: During the 1988 European Championships, he had played against the Republic of Ireland in the grey Irish goalkeeper’s jersey.
|1 Jim Leighton||30||Manchester United|
|2 Stewart McKimmie||26||Aberdeen|
|3 Maurice Malpas||26||Dundee United|
|4 Roy Aitken (c)||30||Celtic|
|5 Alex McLeish||30||Aberdeen|
|6 Dave McPherson||25||Hearts|
|7 Pat Nevin||25||Everton|
|8 Paul McStay||24||Celtic|
|9 Ally McCoist||26||Rangers|
|10 Bobby Connor||sub 58′||28||Aberdeen|
|11 Mo Johnston||26||Nantes|
|14 Peter Grant||on 58′||23||Celtic|
|x Andy Goram||25||Hibernian|
|x Murdo MacLeod||30||Borussia Dortmund|
|x David Speedie||29||Coventry|
|x Alan McInally||26||Aston Villa|
|1 Peter Shilton||39||Derby|
|2 Gary Stevens||26||Rangers|
|3 Stuart Pearce||27||Nottingham|
|4 Neil Webb||25||Nottingham|
|5 Des Walker||23||Nottingham|
|6 Terry Butcher||30||Rangers|
|7 Bryan Robson (c)||32||Manchester United|
|8 Trevor Steven||25||Everton|
|9 John Fashanu||sub 32′||26||Wimbledon|
|10 Tony Cottee||sub 76′||23||Everton|
|11 Chris Waddle||28||Tottenham|
|14 Paul Gascoigne||on 76′||22||Tottenham|
|16 Steve Bull||on 32′||24||Wolverhampton|
|x Chris Woods||29||Rangers|
|x Paul Parker||25||Queens Park Rangers|
|x Nigel Clough||23||Nottingham|
There was always the expectancy that a Scotland v England clash would be a fast-paced game with a lot of heavy challenges and balls in the air. The British were obviously well-known for their ‘fair play’, where the only time spent on the grass by any player would indicate injury. Duels were hard, but fair. There were generally few dead spots, rarely leaving players with recovery time whilst out on the pitch. Would this be any different? Of course not.
Once Scotland’s Ally McCoist and Paul McStay had got the ball rolling through their kick-off, the crowd would get what they had come for, which to a large extent was what is described above. British media often like to refer to games between big rivals, played out at an excessive pace, are ‘just like a cup game’ (also when they are not). Well, in this case the expression could be justified, even if the Sir Stanley Rous trophy was hardly the most coveted on the international stage. Tackling the old foe was motivation enough for both sets of players.
Some sections of English media had claimed in the build-up to the game that Scotland was hardly the ideal opponent at the time, considering the importance of next week’s World Cup qualifier against Poland. They’d have wanted a more ‘playing’ team to better prepare the English for the Polish, who at the time appeared to be something of an unknown quantity. Poland had obviously lost in Sweden early in the month, but this had only been their second game of the qualification. England very much needed to win, and there was pressure to do so, as ever among the media when the national team were about to play.
Scotland, with no qualifier of their own looming imminently, might have felt more relaxed about the fixture, other than the pressure which they’d have put upon themselves. Just as much for players in the opposite camp, no Scotland performer would want a defeat by the English on their CV. However, circumstances made sure that manager Roxburgh’s hands were somewhat tied, with a good few players unavailable to him. Still, they were top of their qualifying group and undefeated, so carrying the momentum into the annual England friendly would’ve been part of their focus.
The early exchanges inform us that this will probably not be a meeting between these two which is a whole lot different. The pace is high, almost extreme, from the word ‘go’, and no player goes softly about any challenge. With some high profile English players in the Scottish domestic league, there were bound to be comrades facing each other directly in battle, and at the heart of the English defence was the towering presence of Terry Butcher, a linchpin in Rangers’ defence. He had been part of a defensive unit at the Ibrox club which had only shipped 26 goals in 36 league matches, and they’d won the title by a margin of six points to second placed Aberdeen, something which was quite overwhelming considering there was still two points for a win. Butcher would often lock horns with Rangers team mate Ally McCoist, a proven goalscorer domestically, but perhaps so far not to the same extent at an international level. He’d notched four times in 15 previous appearances, although he had netted the winner in his most recent feature: the 2-1 win against Cyprus. The Butcher/McCoist duels could prove key even to the game.
Wimbledon striker John Fashanu, who had rounded off the domestic season with 12 league goals to his name, had become the very first player to represent his club at full international level for England. He was a big, bustling and powerfully built centre-forward, and was obviously someone whom it was awkward to be confronted with in challenges. However, at this level, more is expected of you than just brute force and strong aerial play, and Fashanu had been told off by the demanding press after a relatively dour performance in his debut against Chile. He’d not been the only one, but coming from an unfashionable club, more was probably expected of you than of others. He’d partnered the elegant, yet internationally unproven, Nigel Clough at Wembley, whilst on this occasion he had Everton’s nippy striker Tony Cottee for companion. Fashanu did show some promise when he close to seven minutes into the proceedings had turned big Scotland defender Dave McPherson about halfway inside the Scottish half and burst towards the penalty area. However, he’d delayed his next decision too long and been tackled by Stewart McKimmie, thus seeing the promise quickly evaporate. Fashanu was on a steep learning curve; he could not afford to dwell in possession. Quick thinking was needed.
…and the striker showing his worth from set-piece
The fast and furious pace doesn’t allow for opportunities in front of either goal, not until there’s an English set-piece in the shape of a left wing Trevor Steven corner just over twelve minutes into the game. In fact, it was a double routine from the Everton man, who incidentally Rangers manager Graeme Souness was said to be interested in. His first kick had been headed over his own goal by Scotland centre-back Alex McLeish, though on the second attempt, Steven found the head of Fashanu on the near post, whose faint touch almost saw England captain Bryan Robson scramble the ball in on the back post. It took a mighty effort from debutant Stewart McKimmie and Scotland skipper Roy Aitken to prevent Robson from arriving with any body part at the ball, and it would ultimately drift beyond them all and out for a goal kick. This was where Fashanu could prove very useful, though.
If there is a stronger force among the two contestants, then England are shading the opening 16-17 minutes. They seem to have a slightly stronger grip on proceedings in midfield, where both Robson and Neil Webb appear to be up for the battle. Scotland’s pair, incidentally also Celtic’s engine room, Paul McStay and Roy Aitken, are certainly no mugs, and both are battling identically hard in order to deny their opponents time and space. McStay, so prolific when on song, seems to be going head to head with Robson, whilst Aitken is enjoying a relatively free midfield role in which he has been able to approach the opposition’s penalty area on a couple of occasions. There had been a fine moment when McKimmie had spotted him to the right inside the English area on eleven minutes, and the debutant defender’s low ball into Aitken’s feet almost brought about an opportunity for the home side, until Butcher nipped in to eventually play the ball back to his ‘keeper.
There are some sound battles all across the pitch, and big Scotland defender Dave McPherson is the player tasked with looking after Fashanu. It seems a natural choice, as the Heart of Midlothian centre-back is a colossus, and taming the big Wimbledon power striker demands physical strength. It is not like the other stopper, the experienced McLeish, has anything against physical confrontation, but he’ll still be pleased to see his colleague try to maintain the England number 9.
Six Scotland players featured in the same fixture the year before, when England won 1-0 at Wembley. The number was five for England, incidentally. Peter Beardsley, one of the players not present due to the big league ‘final’ in England the evening before, had scored the winner then.
At times direct
Neither side is reluctant to use the long ball, although this will occur more often from the visitors than from the Scottish ranks. Typically, Butcher will look for movement among the front two, and he will attempt to hit it into space for either of them to run onto. It can also be balls aimed at Fashanu’s head, which the much smaller Cotter can try and get on the end of. It has not been particularly fruitful hitherto, though a flick from Fashanu almost saw Webb get to the ball in the Scottish penalty area. Had Leighton not been alert enough, some hesitancy among McKimmie and McLeish could’ve proved costly for Scotland. Webb, pretty much like Robson, was often so good at timing his runs from the deep to perfection. This particular skill was something which the Scottish midfield duo could not match, at least not in this game. Webb and Robson would in fact collaborate to set the captain up with an effort from inside the area, although the ball arrived to him a little awkwardly, and he could not get much power behind his attempt, which his Manchester United team mate Jim Leighton pushed away for another England left wing corner.
The first goal of the game arrives on 20 minutes, and it comes from perhaps not the most likely of sources: Chris Waddle’s head! While England had been the better team so far, the hosts had paid England a visit in their penalty area not long before, as there was an opportunity for McCoist to strike after a ricochet in the area fell invitingly for him. Unfortunately for the Scotland number 9, he got too close to Shilton by the time he struck with his left foot, and it was a fine intervention by the senior stopper to race so quickly off his line and dent McCoist’s attempt. The ensuing corner proved fruitless, as Fashanu had positioned himself on the near post to guide Pat Nevin’s flighted ball away.
England subsequently built down the right, and it was a combination of the former Everton mates Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven which ultimately saw the former hit a strong first time cross into the area. It eluded McLeish and found its way to just around the centre of the six yard line, where Waddle had sped towards the ball and met it with a bullet header which he planted high into the net just under the angle of the post and the bar. It was a fine assist and an even better header. Surely, Waddle could not have scored a whole lot of headers throughout his career? The England fans in the open terrace behind Leighton’s goal went mental, and with the deadlock breached, it was time for Scotland to show what they were made of: They would need to produce a response.
The game continued in much the same vein after the goal, and Scotland would still at times look a little lethargic, not perhaps showing enough quality to test the English rear line. What was quite conspicuous by its absence, was Scottish wide play. They were operating with two midfield wide men in Nevin along the right and Aberdeen’s Bobby Connor to the left. The latter was appearing only for the third time in a Scotland jersey, and he seemed to struggle in finding his feet, perhaps being troubled by nerves. Connor would rather go inside or look for a pass backwards than take on Gary Stevens, but in truth he was also not often in possession. It was not so that Nevin down the other wing was much more threatening, but at least he had showed a couple of glimpses of his capacity, even if he was up against a fearsome opponent for any winger in rock hard left-back Stuart Pearce.
Behind Connor and Nevin were Maurice Malpas and Stewart McKimmie respectively, and whilst the two originally more forward players among the quartet had been silent so far, both McKimmie and Malpas had ventured across the halfway line. McKimmie had earlier found Aitken with that clever mentioned pass, and he’d showed defensive awareness in tackling Fashanu before the striker had been able to get a shot away. The Aberdeen man certainly did not seem to be plagued by whatever could’ve occupied the mind of his team mate at club level, Connor. Malpas, as per se, was providing typical solidity from his position, as he was dependable both defensively and in assisting when coming forward. Still, there had been no interaction with Connor, something which also hampered the impression of Malpas attack wise.
As for the opponents, England had goalscorer Waddle, who had easily been the more flamboyant performer on the pitch yet. Not rigidly tied down to the left wing position which he had from the offset, Waddle had looked to wander and use more or less the entire width of the pitch in his probings. He would take control of the ball and do his best to be a creative force in some at times hostile environments. Well before his goal, Waddle had troubled both Scottish full-backs from his trickeries, and he would provide crosses from the left hand side which the Scotland defence would need to be very alert to. Waddle had Pearce behind him, and while the Nottingham wide defender was so often an attacking threat from the back, he had so far been happy to stay behind, allowing Waddle to shine.
The Stevens/Steven combination along the right was a tried and trusted weapon for the English, as much as it had been for the wonderful Everton side of the mid and latter part of the 80s. Stevens had proved his crossing ability in assisting so delightfully for the goal, whilst Steven actually had made a bigger mark inside his own half rather than proving a threat to Malpas’ territory. He had got stuck in with a couple of challenges, had Steven, but clearly it was expected from him that he could provide balls into the centre from the right hand side. Still, England would have to give him the opportunity to do so, and earlier in the half, plenty had revolved around Waddle. Or happened through the centre.
Reduced England mobility saw Scotland up the ante
In the game against Chile a few days earlier, England’s Fashanu had needed to come off with a knock to his left knee. When he took a kick from McStay in an innocuous-looking scrap for the ball well inside the Scottish half on 24 minutes, the big man needed medical attention, and it would turn out that the kick had struck in the very same place which had caused him to come off against the Latin Americans. While Fashanu would continue after some treatment, it was clear that he was no longer as mobile, and this would coincide with Scotland’s best spell of the half as they finally were able to put England under a sustained period of pressure. It would not be so strange to see Scotland take advantage of a lesser level of forward mobility in the English ranks, as Fashanu had made sure to keep the Scottish defenders on their toes with his sheer presence alone.
The hosts put in some big challenges in midfield, where Aitken is showing his worth in battle, and there’s almost an equalizer when the Scotland captain hits a ball into the centre of the English penalty area in looking for McPherson, who had stayed up after a set-piece situation. England looked to have it under control, as Shilton appeared to have communicated to Des Walker that he was coming for the ball, but the pair would need to look out for the presence of MacPherson, who was close to getting a foot to it. In the last second, though, Walker decided that there had been enough hesitancy, and he booted it away for a corner just before Shilton, or McPherson, was able to reach it. Hairy moment.
The hapless Fashanu must come off because of that earlier knock. On 32 minutes, he is replaced by another fledgling at international level, namely Wolverhampton striker Steve Bull. This is the very debut of the man who had netted around 50 goals for club and country (at U21 and ‘B’ levels) since the start of the season, and he would become only the fifth ever player from the English third division to be given a full England cap. Bull had been picked ahead of Notts Forest’s Nigel Clough, who was the other forward option on the substitutes’ bench. However, Clough had got his chance against the Chileans, and he had not really taken it. England supremo Robson had said before the game that he would not be afraid to let Bull enter the fray. He remained true to his word.
In the wake of the substitution
With England back at full mobility, albeit with a third tier debutant now in their ranks, they seem to raise their game again. To have the hosts dominate them is not on their agenda, and the central midfield pair of Webb and Robson keep giving solid accounts of themselves in the direct battle with the Scottish pair of Aitken and McStay. In fact, these duels are among the most enticing throughout the pitch, as surely the key to getting the upper hand lies in how these two couples fare against one another. Webb might not be typically renowned for his battle skills, but he is no soft touch when challenging, and if anything, he’s possibly the best argument for England maintaining their steady course in the centre of the pitch.
As for Bull’s first few minutes on the turf, well, he possibly looks a tad nervous, something which would not be so odd, even if he had recently returned from a tour with the England ‘B’ team in which he’d scored twice in three matches against Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. His very first battle in full England colours is against Scotland left-back Malpas, and the home defender comes out on top, although you can see how Bull displays great mentality in always wanting to give chase, not wishing to let the home defenders have even a few seconds’ peace. His striker partner, Cottee, also does this, but seemingly to less effect. Cottee certainly doesn’t have the physical attributes which Bull is equipped with, and he’s largely led an anonymous existence so far, finding it difficult to get going against a strong central defensive pairing among the hosts.
Regarding Scotland, it would be unfair to label them ‘long ball merchants’, but of the two teams out on the pitch, they are the more direct. There is absolutely nothing wrong in looking for long balls from your own half in the direction of the front two, and as we have seen evidence of so far in the World Cup qualification, Scotland’s Johnston, and also this afternoon’s partner McCoist, has it in him to get on the end of such balls, although few of the long, raking passes from the back have yet been angled out into the channels. This has reduced the hosts’ ability to stretch the visiting defence, thus ensuring that England have lived a relatively concern-free existence during the first half. There had been a possible moment for the hosts on 35 minutes from Malpas’ opportunistic header into the centre of the area, but although Johnston had momentarily managed to free himself of any attention, he had been unable to control the ball, which would end up in Shilton’s safe grasp.
Through to half-time
The first half continues through to 47,36, with most of the additional time accumulated through the treatment of Fashanu. It would be an overstatement to say that the game opened up towards the end of the half, although there would be a couple of opportunities coming in both directions, even if creative play was not always easy to spot. Scotland’s two half-chances came from long-distance efforts through Celtic pair Aitken and McStay, who were both given the opportunity to shoot from more than 20 yards. Aitken’s shot was set up by Nevin, who had come across to the left to feed his captain an angled ball backwards, though Shilton always saw the skipper’s effort wide to the left, and just before the half-time whistle, McStay had his opportunity after England had failed to properly clear the ball after an attacking set-piece from the hosts, which had come about after Robson had impeded Nevin with the nippy winger back in his right-wing territory. McStay had struck the ball on the volley from 22 yards, but he failed to get much conviction behind his effort, which bounced once off the grass before it ended up in the grasp of Shilton.
Whilst Nevin had briefly come to life late on, wing play in general had been absent in Scotland’s play. Connor along the left had clearly not belief in himself or possibly not even the ability to take his full-back on, and he would always slow play down, taking several touches, and often play the ball for a support act behind him. It has to be said that Malpas’ attacking contributions had been absent, though the steady full-back had made a late forward surge to the left of Connor as the winger had arrived on the ball with Scotland turning England over in midfield. Clearly indecisive, the Aberdeen wide man had fed Malpas too late, and whilst the ball had been cleared by Stevens anyway, the flag had even gone up for an offside against McCoist, as the striker had moved too early. Not his fault, though. Connor to be substituted at half-time must’ve had low odds.
It had been a decent spectacle, with not a lot of stops. England could trot into the dressing rooms relatively pleased with both scoreline and performance, whilst the hosts would need to find more in terms of creativity inside the final third of the pitch. With Nevin seeing more of the ball in the final few minutes, perhaps could his involvement prove fruitful after the break? As it is, it is probably a deserved England lead at half-time: 0-1.
During the interval, both sets of substitutes had been out on the pitch, so were there any changes in prospect for the start of the second period? The crowd had been treated to marching bands of bagpipe musicians during the break. The fine Glasgow afternoon also made sure a lot of people living in houses adjacent to Hampden Park had put their washing out to dry, as documented by half-time live pictures which were broadcast through BBC.
By time for kick-off in the second half, both managers have kept faith in their respective starting elevens, and so it is the English forward couple of Tony Cottee and Steve Bull who get the ball rolling again. Will we have further goals to add to Chris Waddle’s first half header? Incidentally, that Waddle goal was England’s 187th overall in meetings with Scotland. The hosts have amassed 168 until now.
Busy start to half
The first few minutes of the second half are pulsating: Neither team appears to have any wish to just sit back and invite the other on to them, and they both manage to have gos in the first few minutes of a frantic restart.
Aberdeen full-back McKimmie, on his debut, is first to test the opponents’ goalkeeper when he accepts a short free-kick from McStay inside the English half, before he goes on to release a left-footed effort from 26-27 yards which is comfortably held by Shilton. Just shy of two minutes in, Nevin is close to breaking through inside the English area after a one-two with Johnston, who cleverly attempted to lay the ball back into the nippy winger’s path, though it was ultimately played too near Shilton, who again could pick up.
Whilst Scotland had had a couple of attempts goalwards, the visitors didn’t wish to be any inferior, and they have three straight efforts just briefly after Nevin’s. First up is the inspired Bull, who took down a 50 yard pass from Waddle in the right-sided channel. He sat his sight on goal, and fired a rocket just to the left of the upright in a diagonal effort, and a couple of minutes after, Steven tried something similarly, albeit his wrist-shot also saw the wrong side of the post from almost the same area. In between those two shots, Waddle had tried to chip Leighton from inside the area after a neat one-two with Cottee, but under pressure from the recovering McKimmie, the expressive winger placed too much weight under the ball, and the chip cleared the bar by a yard.
There is records of yellow cards for both Alex McLeish and Bryan Robson from this game, although our game video can not display evidence of this. One possible infringement which could’ve brought the French world leading referee to have dished it out to the Scottish centre-back, was when McLeish came clattering into Bull from behind five minutes into the second half. The debutant striker, to his credit, didn’t make a meal of it, even if it must have been a painful challenge to be exposed to, and he dusted himself off and got on with the game a few seconds after. Vautrot did not get his card out, though. Bull had started the second half with a fire in his belly, and McLeish’ challenge could well have been a poor attempt at containment. If anything, it just seemed to rage the bull.
So there had been a tasty opening to the second half. It was not as if the first 45 had been dreary, but this was opportunities in either direction, even if the hosts’ chances of scoring had not yet been quite at the same magnitude as those of the visiting English. If the game were to continue in the same vein, it would appear to be a near impossibility that the game would finish with just Chris Waddle’s name attached to the post-game summary.
It was pretty much end to end by now, although you would continually sit with the feeling that England had more quality about them, whereas the Scottish were left to a greater extent of opportunism from their players. At the back for the visitors, central defenders Walker and Butcher appeared to complement each other excellently, with the former’s pace and the latter’s brute strength. It would in fact also appear so that whilst Butcher had been orientated towards Scotland striker Johnston in the early first half proceedings, he had more or less switched his attention towards his Ibrox compatriot McCoist since. The home team’s number 9 did not appear to be at his sharpest, and so this was a contest which Butcher so far was winning quite effortlessly, even if you could never count a goalscorer of McCoist’s stature completely out.
In midfield, the English central pair were certainly not inferior to Aitken and McStay in the heart of the Scottish engine room. Whilst Robson was always an awkward opponent, his partner on this occasion, Webb, was probably outshining him with some tough tackling of his own, and in addition to physicality, Webb could also draw on a high level of football intelligence. He would in general be the more advanced of the pair, and he would support the strikers inside the final third of the pitch. He had also been seen with a chipped attempt already in this second half, an effort from outside the area which had ultimately proved completely harmless.
With Scottish wide play at a minimum, they would need to carve out openings through the centre, something which was not a simple task against this strong English outfit. However, there was a fine chance coming Johnston’s way on 54 minutes, as he was allowed to take a McStay pass down on his chest inside the area, with right-back Stevens not sticking to him tight enough. Johnston, the UEFA zone’s leading qualification marksman with six goals from five matches, should have done better with his shot, as he failed to get much conviction behind it from 12 yards. In the end, the effort was no match for Shilton, who collected it comfortably off the ground. Less than a minute after, McCoist was able to swing his boot at it, although his low shot from a position to the right inside the area was eventually a feeble one which troubled the super-experienced goalkeeper even less. Blink, and you’d miss a shot on target!
By the time that the hosts make their first substitution of the afternoon, there’s been another attempt directed at goal, and this time it had occured when McStay had been dealt plenty of space inside the English territory. He would not need a second invitation to run at goal, though his shot from 26-27 yards also lacked necessary force to trouble Shilton, who probably could have collected the midfielder’s ultimately disappointing effort wearing a blindfold.
When the change happened, it proved to be the very first introduction to the full international level for Celtic’s 23 year old midfield man Peter Grant. Off came the poor Bobby Connor, who had seemed completely inadequate as a left-sided resource. With two of his Parkhead compatriots already occupying central midfield berths, however, would Grant slot directly into the space left vacant by Connor along the left hand side?
The Scottish substitution does appear to give the home side a lift. Peter Grant slots right into the centre of the pitch, with Aitken moving out towards the left. It is clear to everyone who knows about Roy Aitken’s ability as a footballer that though as good as he is, he is clearly no classic wing player. However, you would get from him someone dedicated in whichever position he was placed, and though he would not even attempt to take Steven and/or Stevens on, he would swing in a couple of crosses from deep positions.
Grant, on the other hand, gives a fearless impression in the minutes after his introduction. He wins an aerial challenge against Robson without much trouble, and he appears confident and prepared to win the midfield battle for the hosts. With Celtic having won the Scottish FA Cup final the previous weekend through that victory against their fierce Glasgow rivals Rangers, it would’ve been interesting to know how Billy McNeill had lined their midfield up. However, Aitken could even play in central defence, and so it may indeed have been Grant and McStay who had featured in the centre then, just as we were seeing for Scotland now.
Scotland create their biggest opportunity yet on the hour, when McKimmie threads a pass through into space for McCoist to run on to, and this time the striker manages to arrive to the ball ahead of his team mate at club level Butcher. McCoist is in behind the English defence, but goalkeeper Shilton has done a terrific job in racing off his line to give McCoist no time, something which made him need to hurry his shot, which Shilton got his hands to. The ball cannoned back off McCoist, and would ultimately sneak just a yard and a half to the left of Shilton’s upright. It had been agonisingly close for the hosts, who would see a long distance effort from Grant saved by Shilton down to his right a few minutes later. The English rear line stood firm, but Scotland were certainly asking the questions. Little happened down the other end of the pitch, and perhaps could the visitors also need to bring some fresh ideas off the bench?
Little effect along the flanks
Wide play is sadly absent in both camps. England definitely seem to be equipped with a higher level of potential in those positions, but they fail to make use of them, or perhaps they are reluctant to do so as per instructions. However, why would they not try to make more out of Waddle, who had had some very lively spells during the first half? And the sound Everton combination of Stevens and Steven to the right is really disappointing, or at least that goes for the latter, who does not seem to be on his best form. Stevens had provided the cross for the goal, and had kept the shop closed down his side defensively. Steven had taken a knock around the halfway stage of the second half, something which could’ve kept him quiet for the latter stages, but it had not been as if he had done tremendously well up until that point anyway.
The Scottish could’ve proved a bigger threat to the English had they had two wingers prepared to take on the defence from each their side. A few minutes after their substitution, Roxburgh decided to switch sides for Aitken and Nevin, with the latter coming across towards the left in order to try and cause some problems to Stevens. Nevin was keen, but he wasn’t particularly well addressed by his team mates. On one occasion, with 73 minutes gone, he had managed to arrive around the fringes of the area from his new position to the left, only to see his eventual effort on goal blocked by the alert Walker.
Second English substitution
England were regaining their composure by the time that they make their second substitution of the game. In fact, it had been they who had suddenly been in the ascendancy for the past couple of minutes, with the Scottish enthusiasm levels having taken a slight hit, at least for the time being. Perhaps was the game about to peter out comfortably in the end for the visitors, who had come under some pressure since the start of the second half?
In taking off Cottee, who had largely been anonymous, and bringing on Paul Gascoigne for the young Geordie’s fifth cap, England manager Robson would bolster his central midfield with an additional man. Long before the 4-2-3-1 formation would become household across the planet, this was now how England seemed to line up, with Webb and Robson sitting in holding roles behind Gascoigne, who would try and give chase higher up in the pitch with the opposition in possession, and who would attempt to be the creative party once England could try and stamp their print on the proceedings.
A second visitors goal!
Right out of nothing England increase their lead. The goal comes courtesy of third division debutant Bull, who does impressively well once right-back Stevens has knocked a ball towards the edge of the area, where Bull manages to win an aerial challenge with the tall McPherson. It had not struck Bull’s head, but rather the back of his shoulder, something which ensured that the ball didn’t travel far, and once he’d orientated himself, he could strike first time right-footed from just inside the area. The shot was firm, and it ended up bottom left behind Leighton, who stood little chance to save. This was something of a fairytale, with a player from the third tier notching a goal on his debut at full international level. It was a cracking goal to boot, and it should also be highlighted how Stevens had assisted for both of England’s goals. Ten minutes left for play, and we have Scotland 0, England 2.
The remaining time
Scotland no longer manage to pin England back, and so the game is over as a contest after that second goal. If anything, the visitors could’ve added further insult to injury when Bull, operating as a lone striker since the introduction of Gascoigne for Cottee, accepted a long, booted clearance from his own half by Pearce. He easily advanced past the hesistant McPherson, and also rounded the Scottish’ penultimate line of defence in McKimmie, but having subsequently lost his balance, and with Leighton coming off his line to close him down, Bull could only hit his left-footed effort straight into the torso of the ‘keeper. This was just a couple of minutes after 2-0. And just another minute after that, Gascoigne showed his technical ability along the right hand side, from where he cut into the area beyond McLeish, but in trying to be clever and finish with the outside of his right boot from an angle, the talented midfield man saw Leighton parry his shot. The goalkeeper now stood between the hosts and an embarrassing scoreline.
Unfortunately, our tape does not contain the final five minutes of the game. With 85,34 on the clock, it concludes with no pre-warning. Hence, we have no visual of the two alledged bookings in the game, a yellow card each for McLeish and Robson, which could possibly have both come in the final stages.
In an opening period more or less dominated by the visitors, it had been they who had gone into the dressing rooms a goal to the good thanks to that bullet header from Waddle on 20 minutes. They had good reason to be the more pleased of the two with how the half had evolved, though Scotland would make a good fight of it after the break, and certainly once they brought on further steel in the shape of debutant Grant, who reinforced their central midfield. However, it was the visitors who would get the last laugh, as Bull added a second at a time when it seemed as if the hosts had lost belief, and eventually it was all comfortable for the English, who could’ve added late goals through Bull and substitute Gascoigne.
1 Leighton 6.8
not always as commanding as you’d have wanted to see. Not at fault for the goals, and made a couple of steady late saves to keep the scores down
2 McKimmie 6.9
could be fairly pleased with his debut, and especially in coming forward he seemed an asset. Obviously did not have Gough’s immense physical presence
3 Malpas 6.7
a surprisingly subdued performance by his standards, in which he rarely crossed the halfway line, leaving the Scotland left hand side almost dead
4 Aitken 6.9
plenty of battle against the English midfield two, and also had a couple of efforts from distance which ultimately did not do much damage
5 McLeish 6.8
tried to impose himself on the English strikers (Cottee/Bull), but although he didn’t do too much wrong, he seemed too much preoccupied with opponents rather than maintaining fluency when they were in possession at the back
6 McPherson 6.8
tussled with both Fashanu and Bull, and did not always have it his way despite his size. Almost stole in at the other end after some hesitancy
7 Nevin 6.9
typically nippy performance by the livewire, who seemed to come to life for various spells during the game
8 McStay 6.9
probably a credit to him that England’s captain would make it his priority to stifle McStay’s game, something which Robson did rather well. McStay still showed a couple of trademark runs on the ball
9 McCoist 6.7
would find it tough against Butcher, but still had a couple of attempts worthy of any poacher
10 Connor 5.9
seemed very much out of his depth, and certainly when coming forward. Would usually come inside, never took Stevens on, and would often play the safe pass
(14 Grant 7.0
added some bite to the centre of the pitch, and made sure Scotland enjoyed a spell of dominance in the wake of his entrance)
11 Johnston 7.0
put in a solid shift, had a couple of sniffs at goal, but could not breach the deadlock. Some big tussles with Walker throughout
1 Shilton 7.1
ever so reliable and dependable, though moment of hesitancy almost saw MacPherson nick a goal when Walker was expecting Shilton to come
2 Stevens 7.3
assisted for both goals in a very fine game by the full-back to silence some of his critics. Defensively he was untroubled by Connor, and would also not concede a cross after Nevin came across to his side
3 Pearce 6.9
one first half raid apart, he kept himself busy defending rather than coming forward. A couple of big, booted clearances late on gave Bull cause for chasing
4 Webb 7.4
deceptively slow, but with a brilliant football mind which makes most of what he does seem so effortless. Seemed a great match with Robson, as they worked well in tandem
5 Walker 7.6
a major presence alongside Butcher, and obviously his pace is vital to the English, but he’s also a big asset in challenges, and an expert in getting a ‘long toe’ to most balls. Battled hard with Johnston most of the afternoon
6 Butcher 7.9
a commanding, towering performance just like he’s capable of, in which he won almost everything in the air
7 Robson 7.0
not as tidy as his midfield compatriot, but still gave a solid impression, especially in how he dealt with the threat from McStay
8 Steven 6.8
prefered the safe rather than the spectacular, so he would often pass back to his old Everton team mate Stevens. Had a hand in the opening goal, and almost scored with an early second half screamer
9 Fashanu 6.6
after a nervy first 15 in which little went right, he seemed to steady himself after winning a couple of headers. Injury struck not long after the opening goal, and he was ultimately forced off with a recurrence of the knee injury which had troubled him in the previous game
(16 Bull 7.4
a big thorn in the Scottish defence after coming on. Gave chase, was a menace in battles, and of course struck home the second goal without any hesitancy. Superb debut!)
10 Cottee 6.7
operated plenty with his back to goal. Never became a threat as there was little co-work between the English strikers)
(14 Gascoigne –
showed glimpses of his genius, and could’ve added more salt to Scottish wounds with his solo effort a few minutes from time)
11 Waddle 7.2
wandered from side to side, more in an eventful first half than after the break, proved his class. Invisible for spells. Took his headed goal exceptionally well