Tag Archives: caldwell

Celtic player Scott Brown named Scotland manager by Gordon Strachan

Brown named Scotland captain for Strachan's first match in charge

PUBLISHED:

15:34 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 5 February 2013


New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Scott Brown as his first captain.

Celtic skipper Brown will lead out the team for the first time ahead of tomorrow night's friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie.

'He already knows what it's like to be a captain with pressure and that made him favourite,' Strachan told a press conference in Aberdeen.

Gary Caldwell and Kenny Miller have shared captaincy duties in the absence of Darren Fletcher, who is battling a chronic bowel condition.

But Caldwell has returned to Wigan with an injury and 33-year-old Miller is unlikely to start as the Vancouver Whitecaps striker is in the midst of his close season.

Strachan confirmed Caldwell's withdrawal was one of several from his squad, adding: 'He's left. Grant (Hanley) has left too, they did well to come up, they'd really been struggling.

'Ross McCormack has left, he's got some sort of bug but he made it up here which was terrific.

'Young James (Forrest) went back because I felt it might be too much to play two games back to back for him. So he's away to Celtic and they'll look after him there.'

The Scotland boss is more than willing to co-operate with Clydesdale Bank Premier League managers as all parties aim to minimise player fatigue.

'I spoke to a lot of managers recently and I'm trying to do the best for the group and the best for the managers,' he added. 'The team that is picked is the best one we can put out tomorrow.

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

'We're taking into consideration the last time they played, the conditions they played in and who'll be playing at the weekend.

'We'll try to help them and try to get something positive for ourselves.'

Strachan is preparing to make his debut as Scotland manager at the ground where he spent seven successful years as a player between 1977 and 1984.

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

He added: 'When I first got the job I thought 'wherever the first game is, it will be fantastic' but I think I've realised it's even more special that I'm going back to Aberdeen where I enjoyed smashing times with great players.

'I'm going back again 30-odd years later and the best wishes have been overwhelming, especially in Aberdeen. The people that I've met around this area recently have made it even more special.

'The group Craig (Levein) passed to me are a smashing bunch of players and sometimes they're over enthusiastic but we can always curtail that.'

Wigan 0 Arsenal 1: Match report

Wigan 0 Arsenal 1: Arteta spot on as Gunners climb back into Champions League places after seeing off Latics

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UPDATED:

15:09 GMT, 22 December 2012

Mikel Arteta's penalty proved enough for Arsenal to defeat Wigan and make it three Barclays Premier League victories in a row for the first time since March.

There was very little between the sides and it was the hosts who had the best chance of the first half but it was wasted by Arouna Kone.

The goal came on the hour mark after Jean Beausejour was deemed to have fouled Theo Walcott, much to the anger of the Wigan fans, and Arteta made no mistake.

Singing in the rain: Arsenal's Mikel Arteta celebrates scoring from the penalty

Singing in the rain: Arsenal's Mikel Arteta celebrates scoring from the penalty

Match facts

Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Figueroa, Boyce, Beausejour, Maloney (Gomez 89), McArthur, McCarthy, Jones, Di Santo (McManaman 70), Kone.

Subs: Pollitt, Caldwell, Boselli, Fyvie, Golobart

Booked: Maloney

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ramsey 75), Cazorla (Koscielny 90), Podolski (Coquelin 79), Walcott.

Subs: Mannone, Jenkinson, Arshavin, Gervinho.

Booked: Wilshere

Goal: Arteta 60 (pen)

Referee: Jon Moss

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The three points lifted Arsenal up to third ahead of Chelsea, who play tomorrow, while Wigan remain in the bottom three and have now taken only one point from their last five games.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger named the same team that defeated Reading 5-2 on Monday, with Walcott again given a chance to impress up front.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was hoping to have a couple of his eight injured players back but it was only James McCarthy who was able to start, with captain Gary Caldwell on the bench.

The Latics started with a flat back four but with McCarthy providing a shield in midfield, particularly against the skills of Monday's hat-trick hero Santi Cazorla.

Rain had poured down all morning but the pitch had held up well and both teams set about playing their similar brands of possession football.

Arsenal had the first chance of the game in the ninth minute when Arteta was allowed time and space to drive forward and play in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right but his shot was well saved at the near post by Ali Al Habsi.
The goalkeeper was making his 100th appearance for the Latics and he was called on again in the 11th minute to beat away a stinging shot from Lukas Podolski.

Going down: Jean Beausejour brings down Theo Walcott in the area

Going down: Jean Beausejour brings down Theo Walcott in the area

Spot on: Arteta makes no mistake with his penalty

Spot on: Arteta makes no mistake with his penalty

In it goes: Arteta sees his penalty go in

In it goes: Arteta sees his penalty go in

All smiles: Arteta is congratulated by Jack Wilshere after his goal

All smiles: Arteta is congratulated by Jack Wilshere after his goal

It was far from all Arsenal, though, and Wigan were more than matching their opponents for neat passing moves.

The frustration for the hosts was they could not turn possession into chances, with both Ronnie Stam and Beausejour having a crossing off day.

Wigan's pace up front certainly had the potential to trouble Arsenal, who were playing a high line, and Kone timed his run to perfection in the 24th minute to collect Franco Di Santo's through ball.

Eyes on the ball: Lukas Podolski competes with Ronnie Stam

Eyes on the ball: Lukas Podolski competes with Ronnie Stam

There was nothing Per Mertesacker could do but, with only Wojciech Szczesny to beat, Kone dragged his shot horribly wide.

Arsenal were getting increasingly frustrated at their failure to break down what has been a porous Wigan defence this season. Emmerson Boyce was playing a captain's role in the absence of Caldwell and a shot from Walcott was one of many blocks.

Four minutes before half-time Jack Wilshere entered referee Jon Moss's book for a sliding challenge on Shaun Maloney but it was harsh on the midfielder who appeared to time the tackle to perfection.

Tracking back: Wigan midfielder James McCarthy vies with Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Tracking back: Wigan midfielder James McCarthy vies with Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Flying in: Santi Cazorla challenges Ronnie Stam at the DW Stadium

Flying in: Santi Cazorla challenges Ronnie Stam at the DW Stadium

Oxlade-Chamberlain had been quiet in the first half but he began the second in fine fashion and his pull-back set up Walcott for a shot from 10 yards that Al Habsi blocked with his arm.

It was a fine save from the Oman international but Walcott really should have scored.

The England international was the key man when Arsenal did break the deadlock after an hour, though, as Moss judged Walcott was pushed by Beausejour in the area.

It was a clumsy challenge by the Chile international and Arteta was coolness personified from the spot, sending Al Habsi the wrong way.

Getting there first: McCarthy challenges Arsenal's Santi Cazorla and wins the ball

Getting there first: McCarthy challenges Arsenal's Santi Cazorla and wins the ball

Wigan needed firing up and the home fans' displeasure with Moss certainly achieved that.

With 20 minutes to go, the Latics twice tested Szczesny, first Maynor Figueroa sending in a low skidding shot and then Kone drawing a block from the Pole after doing very well to cut in from the left.

Szczesny was then a spectator a couple of minutes later as James McArthur set up David Jones on the edge of the box for a shot that flew just wide of the upright.

Stam finally found a decent cross in the 82nd minute but it was stabbed clear by Mertesacker with Kone waiting for a tap-in, and two late appeals for handball in the area were turned down to complete a thoroughly frustrating afternoon for the hosts.

Roberto Martinez confirms signing of Roger Espinoza

Two out, one in! Martinez loses Lopez and McCarthy through injury but confirms Espinoza

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UPDATED:

20:19 GMT, 19 December 2012

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has revealed defender Adrian Lopez could be sidelined for 10 weeks with the hamstring tear he suffered in Saturday's defeat at Norwich.

James McCarthy's ankle problem, sustained in the same game, appears to have been only a short-term setback, but for Lopez the verdict was far from encouraging.

Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post: 'We are waiting on the results of another scan, but Adrian has a tear to his hamstring and it will probably be between six and 10 weeks.

'It's a shame': Wigan defender Adrian Lopez (left) could be out for up to 10 weeks after injuring his hamstring in the defeat against Norwich

'It's a shame': Wigan defender Adrian Lopez (left) could be out for up to 10 weeks after injuring his hamstring in the defeat against Norwich

'It's a shame because Adrian has never had a soft-tissue injury before.

'He is a sprinter and he has a real sprinter's muscles – you don't usually see people like him picking up this kind of injury.'

Wigan's Adrian Lopez

Blow: Lopez had played Wigan's last five games, coming into the side as defenders Ivan Ramis, Antolin Alcaraz and Gary Caldwell have all suffered injuries

Midfielder McCarthy had to be substituted at half-time at Carrow Road after being left with a hurt ankle following what Latics manager Martinez branded a 'nasty challenge'.

Martinez has since received an update on McCarthy's situation, and said: 'We've had the scan and he has a sprain in his ankle, and we need to see how that develops.

'Any sort of injury is disappointing, although we are relieved that it is not a really bad tear to his ligament.

James McCarthy

Too early: Midfielder James McCarthy has been working hard to play against Arsenal Saturday, but according to Roberto Martinez, it's 'too early to tell'

'He's been working really hard this past two days, accelerating the recovery process, but it's too early to tell if he'll be okay for the weekend.'

Wigan, who have dropped into the relegation zone, play Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.

Defenders Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis (both hamstring) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin) could return, while midfielder Ben Watson, who fractured his shin in November, is to have his cast removed tomorrow.

Wigan defender Gary Caldwell

Wigan defender Ivan Ramis

Injuries: Wigan have also been without defenders Gary Caldwell (left), Ivan Ramis (right) and Antolin Alcaraz (not pictured) at various stages this season

Martinez was delighted to have confirmation that Sporting Kansas City's versatile Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza will be joining Wigan in January after being granted permission to work in the UK.

'He is someone who physically is really capable and has a gifted left foot,' Martinez told www.wiganlatics.co.uk.

'Having someone with such a good left foot gives a balance to the squad because most players are primarily right-footed.

'He's developed his tactical awareness and has learned how to play in different systems.

'Roger can play in any position in the midfield and can even play out in a wide left position, so we are delighted to capture a player with such versatility and stature.'

Reinforcements: Roberto Martinez has confirmed the signing of versatile Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza

Reinforcements: Roberto Martinez has confirmed the signing of versatile Honduran midfielder Roger Espinoza from MLS side Sporting Kansas City

Wigan 2 QPR 2

Wigan 2 QPR 2: McCarthy double ensures Rangers set record of 16 games without win

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UPDATED:

17:28 GMT, 8 December 2012

QPR set an unwanted Barclays Premier League record as they had to settle for a draw against Wigan that made it 16 games without a victory for Harry Redknapp's side.

Not since Sheffield United in the 1990/91 season had a team gone so many top-flight games into a campaign without breaking their duck.

James McCarthy gave Wigan the lead in the 19th minute with his first goal for almost two years before Ryan Nelsen levelled seven minutes later.

Party time: James McCarthy scored twice as Wigan earned a point against Queens Park Rangers

Party time: James McCarthy scored twice as Wigan earned a point against Queens Park Rangers

MATCH FACTS

Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Lopez, Jones (Maloney 76), Stam, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Gomez, Di Santo (Boselli 85), Kone.

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart, Redmond.

Goals: McCarthy 19,74.

QPR: Green, Bosingwa (Da Silva 84), Nelsen, Hill, Traore, Diakite (Granero 77), Derry, Mbia, Wright-Phillips, Mackie, Taarabt (Cisse 58).

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Ferdinand, Hoilett, Faurlin.

Booked: Taarabt.

Goals: Nelsen 26,Cisse 71.

Att: 17,163

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

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Substitute Djibril Cisse looked like he might have won it for Rangers when he put them ahead against the run of play with 19 minutes remaining but McCarthy netted again three minutes later.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez was struggling simply to name a full squad, with his problems most acute in defence, where Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa were both suspended and Antolin Alcaraz and Ivan Ramis injured.

Midfielder David Jones dropped into a back three with Adrian Lopez and Emmerson Boyce, while Redknapp set out his stall by preferring Shaun Derry to Esteban Granero in midfield.

Rain swirled around the DW Stadium as play started and it was the visitors who began the brighter, with Ali Al Habsi punching away a Shaun Wright-Phillips cross-shot and then gratefully grabbing a long-range effort from Adel Taarabt.

Wigan had their first glimpse of goal in the 18th minute when Jose Bosingwa fouled Jean Beausejour 25 yards out. Jordi Gomez tapped the free-kick to David Jones, who flicked the ball up and sent in a volley that Rob Green tipped over the bar.

The home fans did not have to wait long, though. The first corner was cleared but Beausejour's second delivery fell to McCarthy on the edge of the area and he drilled a volley into the bottom corner, via a helpful deflection off Jamie Mackie.

It was the midfielder's first goal since February 2011, but Wigan's lead lasted only seven minutes as their Achilles heel, defending set-pieces, hurt them again.

Rifled: James McCarthy fired home to open the scoring for Wigan

Rifled: James McCarthy fired home to open the scoring for Wigan

Nelsen attacked Taarabt's corner at the near post with much more gusto than any of the defenders and, although Al Habsi got a hand to the ball, he could not keep it out.

Nelsen spent seven years up the road at Blackburn and it was the Rangers captain's first goal for the club.

Wigan should have hit back straightaway as Ronnie Stam's cross found its way to an unmarked Franco Di Santo at the back post but the Argentinian was stretching and could only direct the ball into Green's hands.

Leveller: Ryan Nelson rises highest to nod home the equaliser for Harry Redknapp's side

Leveller: Ryan Nelson rises highest to nod home the equaliser for Harry Redknapp's side

The half rather petered out after that, although both teams ended the period with shots over the bar – Arouna Kone for Wigan and Wright-Phillips for the visitors.

McCarthy found himself in the right place again five minutes after half-time when a fortunate ricochet sent him clean through on goal but this time Green was out smartly and the midfielder shot straight at him.

Moments later the Latics were inches away again, this time Beausejour sending in a cross from the left that was just too far in front of Kone and Gomez.

Pure delight: Ryan Nelson celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Queens Park Rangers at Wigan

Pure delight: Ryan Nelson celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Queens Park Rangers at Wigan

Rangers looked distinctly vulnerable at the back and Green was called upon in the 55th minute to push a Gomez shot over the bar, although the Spaniard perhaps should have tried to find Kone instead.

Rangers were under siege but still Wigan could not find the net. Green dived to push away a Jones effort while he was beaten by Gomez from a tight angle but the ball hit the crossbar.

Redknapp responded by sending on Djibril Cisse for Taarabt but they were finding it difficult to get out of their own half and Green had to claw away a Jones corner from under his crossbar.

Nicely done: Djibril Cisse climbed off the bench to score for the visitors

Nicely done: Djibril Cisse climbed off the bench to score for the visitors

In front: Djibril Cisse scored after coming off the bench to put the visitors in the lead

Having weathered the storm, Rangers really should have gone ahead in the 68th minute. Mackie teed up Stephane Mbia on the edge of the box but he rather shinned his shot and Al Habsi pushed the ball behind.

Careless defending from Wigan ensured they got another chance three minutes later, though, as Wright-Phillips was given space down the left to pick out Cisse, who slid the ball beyond Al Habsi's reach.

It was a crushing blow for Wigan but they immediately went in search of an equaliser and were level again three minutes later.

Brace yourself: McCarthy fires home through a crowded box to earn Wigan a point

Brace yourself: McCarthy fires home through a crowded box to earn Wigan a point

Beausejour squeezed in a cross from the left and picked out McCarthy in
the middle, who poked his shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Wigan came closest to nicking the points with three minutes to go as
Kone drove into the area and set up Gomez for a shot from 16 yards that
was clawed away by Green.

Scotland should not sack Craig Levein – Gary Caldwell

Don't sack him! Caldwell sticks by Levein and blames players for Scots' woe

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UPDATED:

21:36 GMT, 12 September 2012

Gary Caldwell insists that sacking Craig Levein as manager will do nothing to change Scotland’s fortunes.

The national team were jeered from the Hampden pitch for the second time in four days following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Macedonia.

Hopes of qualification for the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014 were dented by Saturday’s scoreless draw with Serbia. Fortunate to emerge from the Macedonia game with another point, the Scots now face an uphill challenge to qualify.

Back him! Gary Caldwell (left) dismissed claims Craig Levein should go

Back him! Gary Caldwell (left) dismissed claims Craig Levein should go

A defiant Levein maintains he is ‘very positive’ over his side’s prospects.His record in competitive games now worse than Berti Vogts or George Burley, however, the Fifer will enter next month’s games in Wales and Belgium fighting for his job, despite the backing of Caldwell.

Quizzed on whether Levein’s job is now in the balance, the Wigan captain admitted the players have to take their share of the flak, saying: ‘I don’t even think you should be asking that question, to be honest.

‘If you change the manager, nothing else is going to change.

‘We’re going in the right direction but we need everyone pulling in the right direction and at this moment in time there are too many people pulling in different ways and trying to cause disruption.

‘The whole country has to be positive. I think we’re a better team than we were two years ago but, to prove it, we’ve got to win games — and big games.

‘We haven’t done that and that’s down to the players. We are the ones who haven’t performed in the last two matches so we need to look at ourselves and try to be better.’

Blow: Scotland failed to win either of the opening qualifying matches

Blow: Scotland failed to win either of the opening qualifying matches

Against a Macedonian team ranked 97th in the FIFA World rankings the Scots — with Caldwell in a midfield holding role — struggled to contain Napoli playmaker Goran Pandev.

The visitors scored an opening goal which looked offside, but could have scored more had it not been for the excellence of goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

‘Craig was disappointed afterwards because he wanted to win as much as anyone,’ added Caldwell.

‘He knows we can play better and he said that so it’s time to regroup.

‘We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know yet whether or not this will be two good points but there are eight games left and we still believe we can win every one of them.

‘Obviously, we haven’t yet shown that and we accept that. Whoever gets the strip in the remaining games, we need to be better and believe in ourselves.’

Macedonia’s players, meanwhile, have
admitted surprise at how little they were tested by a dismal Scotland at
Hampden. The Balkan nation dominated the scoring chances in Glasgow and
were unlucky not to take all three points.

Not in the script: Macedonia took an early lead against Scotland at Hampden

Not in the script: Macedonia took an early lead against Scotland at Hampden

'We watched Scotland’s game against Serbia and their team was very upbeat and good at pressing the ball,’ said full-back Daniel Georgievski.

‘Their work ethic in that game was great, with lots of running. But there was little of that against us. We dominated the game and deserved three points.

‘I expected more from Scotland. They were better against Serbia.’

Striker Mirko Ivanovski admitted his poor finish had cost Macedonia a famous victory.

Put in on goal by the outstanding Pandev during the second half, Ivanovksi mis-hit his shot at McGregor.

‘I wanted to lob the ball because I saw the goalkeeper going to ground, but I didn’t make the right connection and hit it with my heel instead,’ he said. ‘That made it an easy save for the goalkeeper.

‘When you play a game alongside a player of Pandev’s quality then you are sure to get a 100 per cent chance in a match. But you have to take it. I didn’t and we lost the points.

‘Pandev is in a class of his own but we have to make the most of what he brings to the team. People can say we deserved to take three points away from Glasgow, and something against Croatia, but the only thing that really matters is the total on the group table.’

Scotland 0 Serbia 0: Goalkeepers on top

Scotland 0 Serbia 0: Lots of huffing and puffing but goalkeepers come out on top

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UPDATED:

16:28 GMT, 8 September 2012

Scotland are already playing catch-up in their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign after drawing a blank against Serbia in their opening Group A game at Hampden.

The home side certainly had their chances in a wide-open encounter – mostly notably Steven Naismith missed a one-on-one in the second half – but Scotland keeper Allan McGregor had to make vital saves to keep his goal intact.

With Group A favourites Belgium seeing off Wales 2-0 in Cardiff and top seeds Croatia beating Macedonia 1-0 in Zagreb last night, three points at home to Macedonia on Tuesday night are surely a must if Craig Levein's side are to harbour realistic hopes of reaching Brazil in two years time.

Not quite: Kenny Miller could not make the breakthrough

Not quite: Kenny Miller could not make the breakthrough

Attempt: Steven Naismith tries to break the deadlock

Attempt: Steven Naismith tries to break the deadlock

MATCH FACTS

Scotland:
McGregor, Hutton, Webster, Berra, Dixon, Caldwell, Naismith, Snodgrass
(Forest 69), Adam, Morrison (Mackie 80), Miller (Rhodes 80).

Subs not used: Gilks, Hanley, Maloney, Forrest, Cowie, Dorrans, McCormack, Phillips, Foster, Marshall.

Booked: Snodgrass.

Serbia: Stojkovic, Ivanovic, Bisevac, Nastasic, Kolarov, Mijailovic (Fejsa 45), Tosic, Ninkovic, Ignjovski, Djuricic (Lekic 83), Lazovic (Tadic 56).

Subs not used: Kahriman, Tomovic, Maksimovic, Petrovic, Lukovic, Matic, Subotic, Markovic, Brkic.

Booked: Nastasic, Ninkovic

Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).

Attendance: 47,369

There could be no faulting the effort
of the Scotland side who had Huddersfield left-back Paul Dixon making
his debut in the absence of injured Danny Fox, Russell Martin and
Charlie Mulgrew.

Gary Caldwell captained the side in
his 50th appearance, playing in front of the back four while veteran
Kenny Miller was in as the lone striker, supported from the flanks by
Robert Snodgrass and Naismith.

There were several familiar names in
the Serbia side including captain and Chelsea defender Branislav
Ivanovic and Manchester City full-back Aleksandar Kolarov while the
English champions' new 12million signing, Matija Nastasic, was also
included in the visitors' defence.

Nevertheless, optimism abounded in Mount Florida with Hampden almost full to capacity.

The first real piece of action in a
scrappy opening came in the eighth minute when McGregor made a fine save
down at his right-hand post from Kolarov's 25-yard free-kick which
threatened to sneak in.

Oh no: Aleksandar Kolarov reacts to missing a chance

Oh no: Aleksandar Kolarov reacts to missing a chance

On the prowl: Miller was not on his best form

On the prowl: Miller was not on his best form

As the game warmed up Serbia survived
an old-fashioned goalmouth scramble before almost catching the Scots on
the break and indeed it was on the counter that the visitors promised to
inflict some damage.

Scotland began to exert some pressure
and in the 23rd minute, with Kolarov too busy arguing with the linesman
after he had flagged a foul for his challenge on Snodgrass, the Norwich
forward raced on to Charlie Adam's quickly-taken free-kick before
forcing Vladimir Stojkovic in to a decent save from his angled drive.

Moments later, Snodgrass picked up
Caldwell's short corner on the right but his cross to the back post just
evaded the head of Naismith.

There was little in the way of penalty
box action at either end until four minutes from the break when Adam
capitalised on some slack Serbian defending to send Miller through on
the right but the Vancouver Whitecaps striker screwed his attempted
cross just over the bar.

Hey! Alan Hutton yelps after being caught

Hey! Alan Hutton yelps after being caught

There was time for Serbia striker
Darko Lazovic to test McGregor with a drive from the edge of the box and
at the other end, Adam's chip from 16 yards following a Scotland break
was plucked out of the air by Stojkovic.

The second half took time to get going
from a Scotland perspective but in the 51st minute another half-chance
went begging when defender Christophe Berra headed a Snodgrass corner
from the right, sloppily conceded by Kolarov, wide of the target.

Serbia midfielder Aleksandar Ignjovski
flashed a right-footed drive from 25 yards past McGregor's left-hand
post before Stojkovic had to be smart off his line to block Miller's
effort from close range.

Effort: Kolarov fires towards goal

Effort: Kolarov fires towards goal

Denied: Scotland's Allan McGregor saves from a shot from Branislav Ivanovic

Denied: Scotland's Allan McGregor saves from a shot from Branislav Ivanovic

The former Rangers and Celtic striker
then misjudged a lobbed pass from James Morrison moments later when he
was unmarked in the visitors' box.

In the 62nd minute, in another Serbia
break that opened up the home defence, Kolarov's low drive had the
Tartan Army holding its breath as the ball sped past the far post by
inches.

Four minutes later the home side created and missed their best chance of the game.

With the Serbia defence far too
square, Caldwell sent Naismith through with a perfectly-weighted pass
but the Everton striker could not set himself correctly and his shot
from 10 yards beat Stojkovic but bounced past the post.

James Forrest replaced Snodgrass to
give Levein's side some added impetus but the home fans began to grew
restless, chanting for Blackburn Rovers' new striker Jordan Rhodes to
come on.

Their mood was not helped when Miller made a hash of an Adam free-kick, heading the ball harmlessly up in the air.

In the 80th minute, in a double substitution, Jamie Mackie replaced Morrison and Rhodes replaced Miller, to a huge cheer.

The final stages were fraught with
McGregor making a crucial save from Serbia substitute Dusan Tadic
seconds before the end of regulation time, before Stojkovic blocked
Forrest's angled drive at the other end as the home side mounted one
last charge.

After all that, it was rather harsh
for the home players to hear some boos ring out at the final whistle but
there can be no hiding the fact that 2014 qualification hopes have
taken a dent.

Sinisa Mihajlovic

Craig Levein

Winner Sinisa Mihajlovic will be happier than Craig Levein (right)

First: Ivanovic beats Naismith to the ball

First: Ivanovic beats Naismith to the ball

Calm: Hampden Park before the match

Calm: Hampden Park before the match

Watford 2 Birmingham 0: Quick-fire Abdi and Vydra stun Blues

Watford 2 Birmingham 0: Quick-fire Abdi and Vydra stun Blues

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UPDATED:

18:29 GMT, 25 August 2012

Gianfranco Zola's new-look Watford produced a blistering first-half
performance to secure a victory over Birmingham and hand their Italian
boss his first home win.

The Vicarage Road revolution has centred around a handful of loan
signings from Serie A side Udinese, who are also owned by the Hornets'
owners the Pozzo family, and two of those borrowed players were on
target inside the opening 20 minutes.

Cool finish: Matej Vydra (L) scores second goal for Watford

Cool finish: Matej Vydra (L) scores second goal for Watford

MATCH FACTS

Almen Abdi stroked home the opening goal from the penalty spot in the fourth minute after Matej Vydra had been shoved in the goalmouth by Birmingham skipper Steven Caldwell.

Vydra added the second himself by springing the offside trap before coolly slotting past Jack Butland.

Birmingham took too long to get going and rarely threatened Manuel Almunia's goal.

The defeat means new boss Lee Clark is without a league win since he replaced Chris Hughton at the helm. The hosts made the perfect start when their first attack culminated in a penalty.

Highly-rated stopper Butland made a smart save to turn away Daniel Pudil's effort but, as the ball looped into the air, Vydra was clearly shoved by Caldwell under the crossbar.

Referee Keith Stroud took his time to award the penalty, with Caldwell
subsequently fortunate not to be dismissed, and Abdi squeezed the
spot-kick past Butland's dive into the left corner.

The hosts poured on the pressure as ex-Birmingham defender Martin Taylor
beat Curtis Davies in the air only to nod straight at Butland from
inside the six-yard box before Abdi lashed wide.

Cool finish: Almen Abdi scores the first goal for Watford from the penalty spot

Cool finish: Almen Abdi scores the first goal for Watford from the penalty spot

Football League blog

It was all one-way traffic and came as no surprise when Vydra added a second after 17 minutes.

The Czech Under-21 international darted along the line and beat the
offside trap to latch onto Mark Yeates' fine through ball. He then
showed composure which belied his age; waiting for Butland to make his
move before lifting the ball into the net.

The busy Vydra showed he can provide a threat in the air too, as he arched his back to nod just wide from Lloyd Doyley's centre.

Birmingham's defence kept playing with fire by persisting with a high
back-line, and they were indebted to Butland when he came out to avert
the danger with Chris Iwelumo bearing down.

The hosts continued to threaten in the second half with Abdi directing a header just wide.

At the other end Nikola Zigic, who had been promoted to the starting line-up by Clark, could only fire straight at Almunia.

Clark made a double change, introducing Peter Lovenkrands and Morgaro
Gomis – a move which galvanised his troops – but their best chance fell
to midfielder Hayden Mullins and he dallied long enough to allow Watford
to clear.

The Blues were finally growing into the game and Chris Burke went close with an effort which went over the bar.

Ex-Watford striker Marlon King then headed a free-kick just wide and
Clark threw on Ravel Morrison, but the Hornets held on to make it two
wins from their first three league encounters.

Southampton 0 Wigan 2: Di Santo and Kone punish sloppy Saints

Southampton 0 Wigan 2: Di Santo and Kone punish sloppy Saints

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UPDATED:

16:00 GMT, 25 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

New-boys Southampton were left searching for their first points in the Barclays Premier League after Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone got Wigan's season up and running at St Mary's.

The Saints and Wigan had never met before in a league match and were both looking to bounce back after opening day defeats.

Southampton went close through Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte before Wigan broke the deadlock when Shaun Maloney's cross found Di Santo eight yards out and he fired his effort into the net in the 51st minute

Kone sealed victory with an 89th-minute strike.

More to follow…

In front: Franco Di Santo (left) put Wigan ahead against Southampton

In front: Franco Di Santo (left) put Wigan ahead against Southampton

MATCH FACTS

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James McCarthy of Wigan tussles with Adam Lallana of Southampton

James McCarthy of Wigan tussles with Adam Lallana of Southampton

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Wigan's Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa (L) jumps over with Southampton's Brazilian striker Guly (R)

Wigan's Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa (L) jumps over with Southampton's Brazilian striker Guly (R)

.

Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin (left) challenges Wigan's Gary Caldwell

Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin (left) challenges Wigan's Gary Caldwell

.

James McCarthy of Wigan turns away from Adam Lallana

James McCarthy of Wigan turns away from Adam Lallana

.

Wigan's Scottish midfielder James McCarthy (R) takes on Steven Davies

Wigan's Scottish midfielder James McCarthy (R) takes on Steven Davies

.

Gary Caldwell (R) challenges Guly

Gary Caldwell (R) challenges Guly

.

Wigan's Arouna Kone on the ball

Wigan's Arouna Kone on the ball

.

.

Craig Levein tells Jordan Rhodes he"s behind Kenny Miller in Scotland pecking order

Head boy! But Levein tells Rhodes he's behind Miller in the pecking order

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UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 15 August 2012

Craig Levein hailed Jordan Rhodes’ goalscoring prowess for sparking a 3-1 win over Australia — but warned him that he’d have to wait behind Kenny Miller to take over as Scotland’s No 1 striker.

Goals from Rhodes and Ross McCormack, either side of an own goal from Socceroos debutant Jason Davidson, more than cancelled out Mark Bresciano’s spectacular opener for the visitors at Easter Road.

On a night when Ian Black was booed by a large section of the crowd as he replaced skipper Gary Caldwell with just minutes of the match remaining, Levein was delighted to see Rhodes find the net on his first Scotland start.

On the mark: Jordan Rhodes bagged the equaliser

On the mark: Jordan Rhodes bagged the equaliser

Dream come true for Rhodes

Jordan Rhodes admits scoring his first goal for Scotland was a dream come true.

The 22-year-old Huddersfield player said: 'You dream of starting for your country and walking out in front of the fans and hearing the national anthem.

'It gave me goose bumps before the start of the match and it was a fantastic feeling.

'I am delighted. I didn't know too much about it at the time but it was a good delivery in by Danny Fox and I was delighted to see it go in.

'I tried to get myself in the position where the ball might drop and sometimes as a striker it does go in.'

‘I don’t like putting pressure on a young guy making his first start in international football — but he kind of put pressure on himself with his scoring record at club level,’ said Levein of a striker who banged in 48 goals last season.

‘Jordan handled it extremely well — and did what I’ve watched him do on countless occasions. When the ball goes into the box, he has this fantastic ability to anticipate where it’s going to drop.

‘Jordan could easily have scored three goals tonight.

‘He handled the occasion exceptionally well, considering the pressure was on him.

‘But, I would say that, just now, Kenny
Miller is still our No 1 striker. He has proved, over a long period of
time, that he can score big goals on the big occasions.

Rhodes to glory: Scotland celebrate at Easter Road

Rhodes to glory: Scotland celebrate at Easter Road

‘We don’t have a great number of strikers available, so Jordan’s performance was encouraging. But, after one game, he will still have to be a bit patient.’

Levein laughed off the boos directed at Rangers midfielder Black, whose selection had caused so much controversy.

The Scotland manager said: ‘Those Hibs supporters, eh ‘I just think that’s what it was. We are at Easter Road, he was a Hearts player for a long time — and they were just letting him know they remember that.

‘Every time Black comes here, it’s probably the same.’

Booed: Ian Black was targeted by the crowd

Booed: Ian Black was targeted by the crowd

With a World Cup double-header against Serbia and Macedonia just three weeks away, a groin injury to goalkeeper Allan McGregor is causing some concern, although the performance of sub Matt Gilks — one of a number of fringe players who impressed — gives Levein some comfort.

‘We had five injuries in all, I think, and the goalkeeper’s was the worst,’ he said.

‘The good thing is that Gilks got some game time and he pulled off one outstanding save.

‘We’ve also got David Marshall available. But I hope Allan is fit for the Serbia game.

‘This victory was a boost but, if we had lost tonight, I would be sitting here saying that the Serbia game was the important one. That’s the same after a win.’

Kenny Miller wants Scotland to spirit into success

Miller's plea for Scots to turn team spirit into success

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UPDATED:

22:05 GMT, 25 May 2012

Kenny Miller has warned his Scotland team-mates that they have to get things right on, as well as off, the pitch.

The captain for Saturday night's end-of-season friendly in the United States, the Cardiff City striker says the week-long trip to Florida has been hugely beneficial.

A team meeting in Orlando earlier this week witnessed Craig Levein's squad reach agreement on matters such as dress code and diet for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Taking it easy: Kenny Miller prepares for the friendly clash with the USA

Taking it easy: Kenny Miller prepares for the friendly clash with the USA

However, Miller believes the consultation process will be a waste of time unless the decisions reached bring results on the pitch and a strong start to the race for Brazil.

'That was the one thing that came out of a team meeting the other night – results and performances now have to improve,' Miller said.

'It's all very well saying we're coming away and being comfortable among each other and working for the gaffer and we all love being around each other – but we have to deliver now.

'Ultimately, we have to get the results right and this campaign is going to be a big one for us.

'There's no doubt we have made progress. We have a lot of good players, we have a manager the lads want to work with – but that counts for nothing if we don't win.

Earning respect by showing respect: Scotland manager Craig Levein

Earning respect by showing respect:
Scotland manager Craig Levein

'We have to pull all the team spirit together and translate that into results and performances. We have to do that so we have the best chance of having a right good campaign.'

Along with missing squad captain Darren Fletcher and defender Gary Caldwell, Miller is one of the senior players Levein consults with regularly.

'The manager has included us in all the chats,' Miller revealed. 'We had a team meeting the other night and, while it might not seem important to get things like dress code sorted, it becomes an issue with the boys.

'A thing as simple as wearing tracksuits when you are on a nine-hour flight – you don't want to be having to wear a suit and tie for that travel time – is important.

'They are small things but the fact the gaffer is open to letting the players have a say is a big help.

'He allows all the lads to have a voice. Everyone has a chance to say what they want, when they want to train, how we train, what we eat. That's helped create a good club atmosphere around the place.

'He gives us respect – and gets that in return. It makes players want to play for him and that's important in any squad.'

Levein, meanwhile, insists he is reluctant to make wholesale changes in Jacksonville on Saturday – for fear of disrupting the momentum his side are building up.

Wary of the intense heat, the Scotland boss will start Shaun Maloney and new cap Matt Phillips, with Allan McGregor in goal.

Expected to start: Shaun Maloney

Expected to start: Shaun Maloney

Beyond that, however, he was non-committal, saying: 'We went down to training on Wednesday night and Peter Houston said it was 96 degrees.

'I know come 8pm (1am UK time), it will have calmed down. But I think this will be a game for using substitutes, although I have not made any commitments to changes yet.

'I discovered fairly early that, because international games do not come around that often, they are hugely significant.

'Even the friendlies become a focal point and I don't want to toss away any games by being frivolous or experimenting.

'It has taken a long time to get a system where everybody knows what they are supposed to be doing.

'I also found as well that, if you lose an international match – be it even a friendly – it is a big thing. If it had been a club, you would be able to remedy it pretty quickly.

'But I would like us to be playing our game in August while building on confidence from this one.'

The latest FIFA rankings show the hosts to be rated as 29th in the world, while the Scots trail behind in 48th spot.

Levein added: 'This will be a tough match. They are well above us in the rankings, they are an experienced team, they've got all their best players here and they are preparing for qualifiers.

'There are a lot of things in this game that go against us but I have great confidence in this group of boys to do well.'