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Macedonia survive Scottish onslaught to crush hosts' hopes

Scotland 0

FYR Macedonia 1

Markoski 17'
  • Friday, 02 September 2016
  • Tynecastle Stadium
  • Under 21´s
  • UEFA European Championship Qualifier

Gregor Kerr | YFS South East Region Journalist
Author's Bio | Articles by Author | [email protected]

Ricky Sbragia’s side saw their slim hopes of making it to the European Championship in Poland reach virtually impossible on Friday night, as Macedonia edged out 1-0 winners on a dramatic night at Tynecastle. With red cards, disallowed goals and interesting decisions the order of the day. Despite a wave of attacks and a late onslaught on the Macedonian goal, Kire Markoski’s first half strike was enough to give the visitors three points to add to their qualifying campaign.
Scotland started the game on the front foot, and Ryan Fraser, who is now enjoying a spell in the starting XI at Bournemouth, wasn’t wasting any time in trying to get his name on the scoresheet, as his second minute daisy-cutter drifted just wide of goalkeeper Aleksovski’s near post.
Stephen Kingsley went close just three minutes later. After picking up the ball from around 30 yards out, he assessed his options, and attempted to catch out the Macedonian number one with a fierce effort on his left foot, but Alexsovski was equal to it, clawing it away from the top left corner spectacularly and leaving the Scots with a corner, which nothing came of.
Scotland were applying a lot of pressure early on, but to the visitor’s credit, they stood strong and were able to withstand anything thrown their way, despite seeing very little of the ball in the early proceedings of the contest. They nearly ended up scoring with their first opening, as Marjan Radeski was played through and looked to have just Liam Kelly in goals to beat, but he must have struggled to spot the rampaging John Souttar, who threw himself into, and won, a crucial tackle to prevent a great opportunity for Macedonia. A huge risk if it didn’t come off, but the Hearts defender got it spot-on.
It didn’t put off the Macedonians just five minutes later though, if anything, it offered encouragement. Radeski was once again in the middle of things, as his pass was not dealt with by the Scots defence, and Markoski struck in a low shot from inside the box and silencing the 4,500 plus crowd in Edinburgh. The home side seemed affected by that strike, and Radeski nearly doubled his side’s lead a few minutes later, if it wasn’t for another great Souttar intervention.
Scotland’s performance in the period after that goal seemed to mirror Macedonia’s before it; rushed, and unable to keep a hold of the ball. But the Scots finished the half in good form, with Cummings and Slater both being denied on several occasions from Alekovski who was keeping his side in the match at this stage, with Ryan Christie and Ryan Gauld both instrumental in carving open those chances. Despite this, Macedonia went into the break with the lead.
  • Half Time:
  • Scotland
  • 0-1
  • FYR Macedonia
Scotland started with intent in the second-half, with Ryan Gauld putting extreme pressure on the visitor’s defence with a deep cross which was met by captain Jordan McGhee, but his header was saved low down by Alekovski, who was succeeding in his attempts to ruin Scotland’s day. His fellow defensive partner nearly scored a carbon copy of that chance, when he met Fraser’s corner at the back-post, but he was always stretching and his effort was comfortable to save.
Sbragia’s side looked more likely to score, and when Ezgon Bejtulai saw red for two bookings in quick succession, the chances of Scotland scoring looked even more likely. Although Henderson’s delivery from the foul was nothing similar to his Scottish Cup final heroics, flying over the head of everyone.
Second-half substitutes Oli McBurnie and Sam Nicholson were looking like inspired changes, with the former causing all sorts of mayhem in the opposition with his aerial ability and hold-up play, whilst the latter looked well at home at Tynecastle in his natural surroundings, marauding past the full-back time and again with ease and putting balls into the danger-zone.
Gauld then worked an opening on the edge of the box, but his effort wasn’t convincing enough to trouble the in-form Macedonian goalkeeper. It looked as if the pressure had finally paid off when McGhee’s deep cross evaded everybody and found its way to the back post, but only the woodwork prevented him from grabbing an equaliser, as it bounced away before anybody could react.
If Scotland couldn’t score to level it up, then their opponents nearly did the work for them, with the injured Siskovski – who played through injury after his side used their final substitute – had to react sharply to prevent team-mate Darko Velkoski from putting the ball in at the wrong end.
It looked as if Scotland were doing everything but score, and it surely seemed destined to not be their day when Fraser blasted over a shot which broke to him on the edge of the box, a rushed effort from the former Aberdeen-winger.
It looked as if the precious goal had finally arrived, when Liam Henderson took the ball past the goalkeeper and slotted into an empty-goal, but the referee adjudged the former Hibernian midfielder of committing a foul in the build-up, a decision which caused bemusement within the Scotland camp.
If that wasn’t enough of a kick in the teeth, the referee then reversed a decision in the seventh minute of injury time to award Scotland a penalty, after consultation with the linesman. Whilst it may have sparked fury from the players, it looked to be the correct decision from the man in the middle. 
  • Full Time:
  • Scotland
  • 0-1
  • FYR Macedonia


FYR Macedonia
1. Liam Kelly (GK) 2. Liam Smith 3. Stephen Kingsley 4. John Souttar 5. Jordan McGhee (C) 6. Craig Slater 7. Ryan Fraser 8. Ryan Gauld 9. Oliver McBurnie 10. Jason Cummings 11. Ryan Christie 12. Mark Hurst (GK) 13. Dominic Hyam 15. Liam Henderson 16. Billy King 17. Sam Nicholson 18. Chris Cadden 20. Mark O'Hara
1. Igor Aleksovski (GK) 2. Eljif Elmas 4. Visar Musliu 5. Gjoko Zajkov 6. Aleksa Amanovic 7. Enis Bardi 8. Boban Nikolov 9. Marjan Radeski 10. David Babunski (C) 11. Filip Pivkovski 12. Damjan Siskosvki (GK) 14. Darko Velkoski 15. Ezgon Bejtulai 17. Kire Markoski 19. Besir Demiri 20. Tihomir Kostadinov 21. Mevlan Murati 22. Daniel Avramovski
Star Player
FYR Macedonia
Ryan Christie looked the likeliest to create an opening for the hosts, and was unlucky not to register a few assists for himself.
Igor Aleksovski worked wonders in goals and battered away anything that came at him. One of his defenders, Darko Velkoski also put in a stellar performance, winning everything in the air all night.
Magic Moment
FYR Macedonia
Liam Henderson looked to have scored a well taken goal after rounding the Macedonian goalkeeper, but was very unlucky to see his strike ruled out for an alleged foul.
The visitors goal was well worked and Markoski finished very calmly underneath the goalkeeper.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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