From the archive: Poland stun Scotland at Hampden

The programme for Scotland's ill-fated home qualifying clash with Poland
The programme for Scotland's ill-fated home qualifying clash with Poland
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John Rafferty sees Scotland’s World Cup hopes slump as Poland stun 107,500 at Hampden

Scotland 1 Poland 2 The Scotsman, 14 October, 1965

Scotland are toppling ingnominiously out of the World Cup. A great Hampden Park crowd of 107,500 helped them on their way with angry booing as they slumped disastrously in the second half and gifted, with slack defending, two goals to Poland in the final six minutes.

Until, in the last half-hour, the Scotland defence disintegrated, this was a match that should have been well won by a team that in the first half had pleased with well ordered aggression and speedy wing play. They had taken a lead from a goal by the centre-half and captain, McNeill, in the 14th minute. Victory seemed assured.

Then Johnston had been an exciting winger, Henderson good on the ball but passing rashly, and Bremner and Crerand had control in midfield. Yet early the Scotland defence had shown itself susceptible to the neat forward switching of the Poles.

Hamilton, McNeill and Greig could not get the ball firmly in the tackles and were unable to get it away accurately. The covering was slack and too many gaps were left, but when Law, who had a great first half, and Johnston got the attack going these deficiencies were hidden.

Then Henderson limped in the second half. Crerand slowed and the game passed him by. Bremner became lost, and the control at midfield passed to the eager Poles, and the pressure was put on the defence. They tottered and finally cracked.

Law and Bremner switched as the game died, but three Laws were needed to rally Scotland. There was no relief for the defence for the play swung mostly to the right in the second half and Henderson, troubled by his injury, had a shocking time, while Gilzean, at centre, could not break clear of the very fast centre-half.

Defenders cleared rashly but the ball came back. One thought then of the chances that were made and lost in the first half, but there was no other Scottish consolation as the game wore on.

The team had been found wanting. It was a monumental disappointment. The crowd stood stunned by it and finally roared their disappointment bitterly and loudly.

Now the staggering task set for Scotland to qualify for the World Cup finals is to beat Italy home and away. How the defence is to be propped and the midfield secured is beyond comprehension. The outlook is dark and more so because of the earlier hopes.

A nervous start by Scotland could have been costly. The covering in defence was slack, and twice Faber got shots in which Brown saved well. Then Faber again found a road through, and his lob beat Brown but went past a post.

Law had a burst and shot near and the match began to develop into a satisfying game, with the attacks building up in bulk. Then in the 14th minute Scotland scored.

McNeill came up for a corner and when Henderson put the ball over Kornek palmed it off Gilzean’s head but straight in front of McNeill and the centre-half crashed it into the roof of the net. It was a fine time to get a goal for the Poles were settling in a threatening manner.

There was some aggressive Scotland forward play then and Johnston’s first two runs might have brought goals. His second ripped the Polish defence open but Law just failed to reach his cross.

Johnston was by far the better Scots winger for Henderson mis-passed atrociously and wasted all his good running.

At any rate the wingers were being kept running so obviously the team manager was being heeded.

Law was in aggressive form and two chances were made in front of goal, but the ball came quickly and three Scotland forwards bunched in their eagerness and the ball was scrambled clear.

In the 35th minute there was a highlight when Henderson, going through, was brought down and it seemed a penalty kick had been given. But instead it was a non-scoring free kick which proved to be fruitless.

Near half-time there was a tremendous scramble on the Polish goal line with Law, Bremner and Gilzean trying to force the ball over and then the Polish right-back had his name taken for stopping Johnston in the only way it seemed possible to do so, by kicking the legs from under him.

The Scotland defence caused anxiety at the start of the second half when the Poles spurted. Blunders by McCreadie and Hamilton almost gifted the Poles a goal and Law, who had switched with Bremner, was busy plugging leaks.

And then after 15 minutes Scotland switched again to attack and the Hampden roar rose in its might to encourage them and Anczok was hurt stopping Law.

Shots poured in on the Polish goal and Kornek, at full stretch, brilliantly stopped a great drive from Gilzean that was going in at a post. Still Poland were far from down and Brown had two great saves from Pohl.

But that aggressive spell passed, Scotland lost control in midfield and the ball was scrambled out of defence to the feet of white-shirted Poles. Greig was heavy-footed, the wingers were starved of the ball, and Scotland slumped to an alarming degree.

Inevitably such slipshod defending was punished and with six minutes to go the goal was left gaping and Liberda shot the equaliser.

In another minute Scotland’s World Cup hopes were shattered. Again the goal was exposed and Sadek hit a bouncing shot that deceived Brown and slipped into the net. After such a bright first half that was a shocking reverse.

Scotland: Brown (Tottenham), Hamilton (Dundee), McCreadie (Chelsea), Crerand (Manchester U), McNeill (Celtic), Greig (Rangers), Henderson (Rangers), Bremner (Leeds), Gilzean (Tottenham), Law (Manchester U), Jonston (Rangers).

Poland: Kornek, Szczepanski, Gmoch, Oslizlo, Anczok, Nieroba, Szoltysik, Sadek, Pol, Liberda, Faber.

Referee: H Carlsson.

Attendance: 107,580