Macedonia 1-0 Scotland – Nightmare in Skopje

What a nightmare! 1 game into the new World Cup championship and it isn’t looking too pretty. A 1-0 defeat at the hands of the not-so-mighty Macedonia puts Scotland at the wrong end of Group 9.

We had travelled far for this match. 2 of us flew to London, met 3 more in London, flown to Sofia and taken a taxi to Skopje – no mean feat. Although we had no tickets, we were looking forward to a good game, and a respectable result. And we would enjoy it with the 3000-strong Tartan Army.

Having found out where to buy tickets we readied ourselves for the game. The traditional march to the stadium was along the banks of the River Vardar – a reliably good-natured affair. Scotland and Macedianian fans joined each other in singing and friendly banter. Spirits were high as we approached the gates.

Then, tragedy. We were not allowed to enter the stadium. Everyone had reached the gates and was expecting to get in to see the match. The Skopje police had other ideas. Turned out in full riot gear, they didn’t want any of us inside, and they were ready for a battle should anyone have a problem with that! Polite words fail me.

Obviously there was pure no violence. We had been shafted, but there are better ways of dealing with this kind of problem. In the meantime we settled down to watch the game in one of the stadium-side bars. A TV screen and beers would have to suffice.

The match kicked off, and a second distaster. Macedonia opened the scoring in under 5 minutes. Macedoni’s Goran Maznov won a free kick when he fell (???) on the edge of the penalty area. Despite Scotland goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, brilliantly deflecting Sedloski’s effort the ball struck the post only for Naumoski to drill it into the net. Absolutely gutting!

Scotland tried to equalise. However their efforts were lacklustre. The 35oC heat probably wasn’t helping. Barry Robson’s 20th minute corner was squandered, then 10 minutes laterMcfaden hesitated at the edge of the box missing what could have been a great opportunity. The first half ended 1-0.

The second half was slightly better, but only because Macedonia didn’t score. We should have been awarded a penalty when Milosevski seemed to foul McFadden in the box. Unfortunately, the referee didn’t agree. And to be honest, we were pretty dire. Whetherit was the monster heat or lack of passion we didn’t seem likely to equalise. And the reast is history.

We returned to the city centre dejected, thoughts turning to Wednesday’s forthcoming clash with Iceland. And many beers were downed, sadly not in celebration.

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