Billy Stark proud of under-21 team despite narrow exit
Scotland under-21 head coach Billy Stark remains full of pride in his team after they came up just short in their bid to reach the play-offs for the European Championship finals.
Scotland lost their unbeaten record in their Group 10 campaign when they conceded an injury-time goal in a 3-2 defeat to Austria in Altach on Monday night. The final goal came on the counter-attack as Scotland threw men forward in a bid to claim a goal that would have put them among the four best runners-up to join the 10 group winners in the play-offs.
Stark, whose side were assured of second place before the game, told www.scottishfa.co.uk: “Obviously we are all very disappointed to have lost the match and to have missed out on the play-offs, but I’m very proud of the team because they have been excellent throughout this campaign and gave us reason to be optimistic going into last night’s game.
“We’ve picked up some excellent results along the way, with the victory away to the Netherlands a notable example, and the team have played like real men. We kept the campaign alive right until the last game, but unfortunately we couldn’t get the result we needed to see us progress.”
Scotland started poorly last night and Michael Gregoritsch headed an eighth-minute opener. But the visitors came back into it around the half-hour mark and were level nine minutes after the break when Tony Watt reacted well to nod home after Johnny Russell had flicked on Danny Wilson’s long free-kick. Russell then put Scotland ahead in the 74th minute when he tapped in following Watt’s driven cross, but Aston Villa striker Andreas Weimann headed an equaliser 90 seconds later after the Scots failed to deal with a cross, and Raphael Holzhauser broke away in injury time to deliver the cruel end to the campaign.
Stark said: “We deserved to be behind at half-time. But we looked more like ourselves in the second half and really took the game to Austria.
“We created chances and managed to get ourselves into a winning position but couldn’t manage to hold on to the lead and, as in Bulgaria, we conceded just a minute or two later. I still felt positive that we could find the winning goal, but Austria are a dangerous team and they caught us on the counter-attack in injury time as we pushed bodies forward.
“I was so pleased with the way the boys came back into the match last night. They lifted their performance and showed real desire and hunger.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South