Hearts keeper is grateful to Capital rival

Young Hearts goalkeeper Mark Ridgers has thanked Hibs rival David Wotherspoon for sparing him the ignominy of single-handedly denting the hopes of Scotland’s under-21 team in their European Championship qualifying campaign.

Although the Scots notched up an impressive 2-1 win against Holland in Nijmegen last night, Ridgers gifted the hosts an equalising goal on 18 minutes – but Wotherspoon struck a winner ten minutes after the break to double Scotland’s tally following Jordan Rhodes’ opener after two minutes.

“David Wotherspoon bailed me out by scoring the winner, which is funny as he’s a Hibs player and I’m at Hearts,” said Ridgers. “But I thanked him after the game. If we’d had a negative result, a lot of people would have pointed the finger at me.

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Ridgers spilled Adam Maher’s long, floating free-kick and allowed the ball to cross his goal-line to hand the Dutch their goal. “I still don’t know if it was in but the linesman has made up his mind and you can’t change that,” said 21-year-old Ridgers. “It was given as a goal and it was about how I recovered. I felt I did quite well.”

The goalkeeper, on loan at East Fife, signed for Hearts four years ago for £40,000 from Ross County, and went on to produce a string of outstanding saves, which helped Scotland climb to within a point of table-topping Holland in Group 10 of their qualifying campaign for Israel 2013.

“To get the result we did is nothing short of magnificent and now we’re right back in this campaign,” said Ridgers.

“We’ve just shown by getting a result against one of the world’s greatest football nations that we aren’t as far behind as some people might want to think.”