Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Scotland vs Northern Ireland, 20 August 2008

Scotland on Sky - Jim White is unlocked from the Sky Sports News studio and dispatched to Hampden, and Gerry Armstrong is removed from the room with the Spanish TV for his La Liga commentrary and sent up to join Jim. And as it's Scotland, of course Charlie Nicholas gets to do one of his live matches.

A match between two teams who narrowly missed out on going to Euro 2008 (and probably would have gone if they could have immproved some of their results against sides ranked much lower than them) and possibly a pre-cursor to some kind of revived Home Nations tournament, though not involving England as the rest of the British Isles are beneath them. Experimental sides from both teams - Ryan McGivern made his debut for Northern Ireland before he's even playe for Man City. To contrast the depth of resources available to each side, Northern Ireland named a massive 5 substitues.

Hampden wasn't full by any stretch, but there was a strong Northern Ireland contingent who made the short journey across the Irish Sea. There's fireworks and a loud PA playing Muse, booing for the Northern Irish anthem (not sure what the Scots have against God save the Queen), but the Northern Irish fans still manage to sing it at about twice the speed of the band.

Scrappy old game, few chances, Scotland had majority of the possession as Northern Ireland packed the midfield and chased and harried Scotland everytime they had the ball, trying to set David Healy away. Ryan McGivern managed to pick up two yellows on his debut, and picked up a red card on his debut. Surprisingly, one of his cards wasn't for his rubbish haircut. Northern Ireland earned a penalty not long after when Feeny was brought down in the area, but substitue Alan McGregor guessed correctly to save Healy's well struck penalty.

In other news, seems Silvrestre has left Man Utd for Arsenal. Looks lke Ferguson is trimming the squad down, presumably with a view to blooding more of the youngsters like Jonny Evans (although he's primarily a centre back) or the young Da Silva. Unusual for a transfer between two of the "Big Four", even if Silvestre is only likely to be as much of a squad player as he's been at Man Utd recently.

Sky: 5
Setanta: 3
BBC: 1
Foreign Satellite: 2

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