Monday, 10 September 2012

Scotland 0 vs 0 Serbia - 8/9/12

It would appear that here at The Pigeon we are cursed to sit (or stand) through 0-0 games as some sort of punishment for something we did in a previous life (or blog)... however something was a little different about this 0-0, we have no idea how it finished 0-0???

The start of the World Cup Qualifiers had quite the build up, first the Scottish FA setting the the president with slogans like 'We Will Roar' & twitter hashtags #betheroar & #hampdenwillroar really encouraging Scotland fans to come into the campaign with a real sense of optimism. Then last month Craig Levein set his side out in a friendly against Australia with new exciting players in an impressive 3-1 victory at Easter Road. So it's safe to say optimism was clearly visible pre-match with sing-a-longs, friends making toasts 'To Rio' and friendly wagers amongst ourselves with an over-optimistic Phil proposing 3-0!!!

Hampden is a ground we have visited numerous times and we headed for a standard pre-match drink in Shawlands bar The Granary before joining the masses for the (25 minutes-ish) walk to the ground. The fantastic thing about Scotland games is the variety in vintage tops that fans wear combined with kilts, fancy dress or tourist tat! (We were fashioning the classic Salmon Pink away top circa 1999)

We arrived at Hampden about 10 minutes before kick off to find a familiar sight, thousands of other members of the Tartan Army who had also stayed in the pub an extra 10 mins to sneak one more pint in. As a result we were in the above queue when the national anthem started, followed by missing kick off. Whilst you could argue that this was our own fault it was still a disappointment to miss Flower of Scotland pre-match but the thousands of us outside the ground made the most of it by singing louder to make our voices heard inside.

And so when we finally made it in to Hampden the first thing that struck me was the realisation that this wasn't a sell-out! Whilst the whole bowl of the famous old ground was packed to the rafters from our seat we immediately could see that the upper level of the South Stand had large parts of empty. We were really surprised at this with the opening match of a new international campaign expected to be sold out.

Despite the game not being sold out we still entered the stadium to 47,000 Scots singing 'Doe, A Deer' and soon realised that the atmosphere wasn't impacted at all. As with most Scotland games the atmosphere against Serbia was fantastic with singing in the first half pretty much non-stop and this had to do with Scotland looking pretty great on the field. The only thing lacking was a little quality in the final third with the Serbian defence in control other than a couple of chances, most notably quick thinking on a free kick saw Snodgrass have the best chance in the first half and might have benefited from some anticipation from his team mates to follow the ball in. The first half also saw a couple of nice saves from Allan McGregor to keep the Serbians out.

Halftime saw the token Tartan Army sing-a-long with renditions of Loch Lomond & Caledonia getting the crowd going before second half frustration kicked in...

The early exchanges of the second half saw Scotland squander a handful of chances and when Kenny Miller completely miss judged a ball over the top from James Morrison and missed the ball all together the Hampden Roar became something more of a Hampden Groan. It was at this point that sections of the crowd started chanting for Jordan Rhodes who was sitting on the bench despite goal in the previous match. It was clear however, that this only resulted in Rhodes staying on the bench with Levein showing who was boss. It wasn't until Steven Naismith squandered the chance of the game when through 1 on 1 with the keeper that Levein finally made some changes, however, it took until the 81st minute when the Tartan Army got to see the man that the were wanting to see.

In the closing minutes both sides had a chance to claim all 3 points with McGregor making a solid save from Tadic followed by Forrest forcing a save from the Serbian keeper Stojkovic.

Before the match we might have taken a point, however with chances missed and Levein struggling to win over the Tartan Army everyone left the stadium feeling a little disheartened with the afternoon. In a group that will be very close, each home game must be looked at as a must win and now Tuesday nights game versus Macedonia becomes even more vital... Some positives can certainly be taken from performances from McGregor and debut maker Paul Dixon at left back both fantastic on the day.

Highlights on Scotland vs Serbia can be viewed here.

Match Attendance - 47,369

Ticket Cost - £25

Train Ticket - £12.10 (Return From Edinburgh); £1.90 (Return Glasgow Central to Crossmyloof)

Stadium Catering: Burning Hot Pie & Capri Sun £5ish

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