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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK

Sport: Football

Scotland fire blank in Estonia

Aimless scramble: Scotland's Billy Dodds tussles with Estonian Martin Reim

Estonia 0-0 Scotland

Scotland's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2000 suffered a setback in Tallinn, as Estonia frustrated their Group Nine rivals with a dogged display.

The BBC's Roddy Forsyth: "Scotland had to make the best of an indifferent job"
Craig Brown's team found it difficult to play a passing game on a narrow pitch at the tiny Kadrioru Stadium and were guilty of a sub-standard performance.

Frontman Billy Dodds spurned two glorious chances to give Scotland victory - but they can hardly claim to have deserved to beat a hard-working home side.

[ image: Don Hutchison suffered a frustrating time up front for Scotland]
Don Hutchison suffered a frustrating time up front for Scotland
But despite the draw, Scotland are still favourites to clinch second place in the group.

But Estonia are their chief rivals for the play-off spot and manager Craig Brown desperately wanted a victory that would virtually have ended their involvement.

So poor were the visitors that in the first 45 minutes that they managed as many efforts on goal as on their last trip to Tallinn - when a World Cup qualifier was abandoned after just three seconds because the opposition had failed to turn up.

Callum called up

Brown made a number of changes to his side, despite the 2-1 victory against Bosnia last Saturday in Sarajevo.

The big surprise was the inclusion of Kilmarnock midfielder Ian Durrant in place of Rangers' Neil McCann.

Callum Davidson and Allan Johnston also returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Barry Ferguson and David Hopkin, who had been struggling with an ankle injury.

Poom stands firm

Scotland's first genuine chance came in first-half injury time, when Dodds collected a through-ball from Hutchison only to be denied at point-blank range by Derby County keeper Mart Poom.

[ image: Johnston of Scotland holds off Estonia's Saviauk]
Johnston of Scotland holds off Estonia's Saviauk
Estonia were awkward opponents and showed they were in the mood for the fight with the first genuine chance of the game after 26 minutes.

Martin Reim split the Scotland defence with a superbly-weighted pass and Neil Sullivan pulled off a brave stop at the feet of the on-rushing Andreas Oper.

Only some awful Estonian finishing prevented Scotland from going behind in the 52nd minute.

Oper cut inside David Weir on the left, but rather than shoot from a clear position, he squared the ball to Terov, whose shot was more like a back-pass and Sullivan collected comfortably.

Within seconds, though, Scotland had wasted their own gilt-edged opening.

A high-ball into the box found Dodds unmarked - but from just six yards out he slammed his shot straight at Poom, who somehow clung onto the ball.

[ image: Craig Burley stands tall as Martin Reim slides in]
Craig Burley stands tall as Martin Reim slides in
The introduction of substitute McCann gave Scotland much more urgency going forward in the second half.

But Estonia still looked the more threatening side. Sullivan turned a Reim snapshot round the post and from the subsequent corner John Collins cleared Terehhov's header off the line.

Four minutes from time another Estonian corner caused chaos in the Scots defence - and Kirs' header looked bound for the net, until McCann headed the ball from under the bar.

During a frantic finale Poom was in spectacular form in the Estonian goal.

First he diverted McCann's telling cross with an eye-catching dive and one-handed save, and then in the last minute he kept out a thundering Collins free-kick and Dons Hutchison's follow-up.


Estonia: Poom, Piiroga, Kirs, Hohlov-Simson, Saviauk, Anniste, Terehhov, Oper, Kristal, Reim, O'Konnel-Bronin. Subs: Tohvar, Haavistu, Mansalu, Zelinski, Reiska, Meet, Ustritski.

Scotland: Sullivan, Weir, Hendry, Dailly, Johnston, Burley, Durrant, Davidson, Collins, Hutchison, Dodds. Subs: Gould, Ritchie, Calderwood, Gallacher, Ferguson, Gemmill, McCann.

Referee: Fritz Stuchlik (Austria)

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