Tag Archives: mackie

Loic Remy injured for two months

Blow for QPR's survival hopes as 8m Remy faces TWO MONTHS on the sidelines with groin injury

By
Andy James

PUBLISHED:

15:22 GMT, 4 February 2013

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UPDATED:

15:27 GMT, 4 February 2013

QPR fear that 8million striker Loic Remy could be out for two months with the injury he suffered in training last week which forced him to miss Saturday's 0-0 draw with Norwich.

The France international scored on his QPR debut in the 1-1 draw at West Ham after signing from Marseille during the transfer window.

Headache: Remy's injury leaves Redknapp short of options up front

Headache: Remy's injury leaves Redknapp short of options up front

Headache: Remy's injury leaves Redknapp short of options up front

Rangers boss Harry Redknapp was hoping that Remy could spearhead the club's survival bid as they look to bridge the six-point gap to safety in their remaining 13 games.

But now he faces the prospect of being without Remy for the next six games – including relegation clashes at Aston Villa and Southampton in March and possibly the visit of Wigan in April.

Redknapp initially said the injury was a tear after the Norwich game, but assistant manager Joe Jordan told the BBC it was a 'slight strain'.

Off to a flyer: Remy scored on his debut

Off to a flyer: Remy scored on his debut

'I have no idea how long he will be out. We will have to see how he is on Sunday and Monday,' Redknapp said.

'It was in the last minute of training, and he just struck a ball and felt it go.'

After failing to land Peter Crouch and Peter Odemwingie on deadline day Remy's injury leaves Bobby Zamora and Jamie Mackie as Redknapp's only fit first-team strikers.

DJ Campbell to return to QPR

Harry hoping DJ can put QPR in a spin with striker set to return from Ipswich

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UPDATED:

12:23 GMT, 31 December 2012

Harry Redknapp is hoping that DJ Campbell can help fire QPR to safety when he returns from a three-month loan spell at Ipswich this week.

Campbell’s Hoops career appeared to be over under Mark Hughes as he was frozen out the first-team squad and then sent to Portman Road on a temporary basis in October.

In a spin: DJ Campbell is heading back to Loftus Road in January after shining on loan at Ipswich

In a spin: DJ Campbell is heading back to Loftus Road in January after shining on loan at Ipswich

But a run of 10 goals in 16 games for Mick McCarthy’s Championship strugglers has seen the 31-year-old catch the eye and he will be thrust back into Rangers’ Premier League squad on his return to Loftus Road.

With both Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson out with long-term injuries Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie are the only fit strikers currently available to Redknapp.

The former Spurs boss is expected to bring in a frontman to bolster QPR’s survival bid once the transfer window opens but Campbell’s services will still be required as Rangers look to haul themselves to safety.

Welcome him back with open arms: QPR boss Harry Redknapp needs to bolster his attacking options

Welcome him back with open arms: QPR boss Harry Redknapp needs to bolster his attacking options

Alan Pardew praises Shola Ameobi

Pardew praises Ameobi 'the big man for the big occasion' as Toon struggle past Rangers

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UPDATED:

20:13 GMT, 22 December 2012

Alan Pardew hailed Shola Ameobi after seeing the striker come off the bench to fire Newcastle to a much-needed victory over lowly QPR.

The 31-year struck nine minutes from time to claim just the Magpies' second Barclays Premier League win in eight attempts with the game seemingly heading for stalemate.

Toon hero: Newcastle's Shola Ameobi celebrates scoring his sides winning goal with James Perch

Toon hero: Newcastle's Shola Ameobi celebrates scoring his sides winning goal with James Perch

Match facts

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Anita, Tiote (Marveaux 77), Perch, Gutierrez (Obertan 60), Ba, Cisse (Shola Ameobi 61).

Subs Not Used: Harper, Bigirimana, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson.

Booked: Tiote, Perch, Shola Ameobi.

Goal: Shola Ameobi 81.

QPR: Green, Da Silva, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Mackie, Mbia, Granero (Wright-Phillips 56), Faurlin (Derry 78), Taarabt, Cisse (Hoilett 64).

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Diakite, Traore, Onuoha.

Booked: Ferdinand, Hill.

Attendance: 50,180

Referee: Kevin Friend

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Pardew, whose decision to replace
Papiss Cisse with Ameobi 20 minutes earlier had been booed by a section
of the 50,180-strong crowd at St James' Park, said: 'I know the crowd
weren't particularly pleased when I took Cisse, a goalscorer, off but I
just felt Shola… he's a big man and this was a big occasion and he likes
big occasions.

'It said QPR on the programme but
really it was bigger than that, I think we all knew that and he has that
calm head – he knows what is demanded here – to produce a quality goal,
and it won us the game.

'I wanted to get Shola on the pitch, and thank goodness I did because it was a really class finish.

'He could have taken the shot with
his right foot, which is his stronger foot, but to have that composure
in that area is first-class.'

Ameobi's decisive intervention came
in the nick of time and was greeted by a huge sigh of relief on Tyneside
after he ran on to fellow substitute Sylvain Marveaux's
perfectly-weighted pass before shooting left-foot across keeper Rob
Green and into the bottom corner.

Leaving it late: Shola Ameobi scores to win the game for Newcastle

Leaving it late: Shola Ameobi scores to win the game for Newcastle

It was no more than the Magpies
deserved after dominating throughout but it proved a rare piece of
incision with Pardew's men too often lacking craft to open up the
visitors.

Vurnon Anita forced two second-half
saves from Green, but Tim Krul also had to get down well to keep out
Djibril Cisse's effort just after the break.

The Magpies might have won more
comfortably had Green not beaten away Marveaux's late effort after a
pacy run, but Krul had to ease late nerves by plucking Adel Taarabt's
free-kick from under his crossbar in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Fight for the ball: Adel Taarabt vies for the ball with Newcastle's Mike Williamson

Fight for the ball: Adel Taarabt vies for the ball with Newcastle's Mike Williamson

Pardew had admitted before the game
that he would not enjoy his Christmas lunch unless he sat down with
three points safely banked, and he was delighted to be able to do so
ahead of a tough Boxing Day trip to Manchester United.

He said: 'The pudding will taste a
little bit sweeter. I feel sorry for our fans. We have put them through
the rack, really, over this last period.

'They have watched some football that
hasn't been our best. But you have periods in your tenure as a manager
and sometimes a season.

Midfield battle: Cheick Tiote is tracked by Esteban Granero

Midfield battle: Cheick Tiote is tracked by Esteban Granero

Pardew had admitted before the game
that he would not enjoy his Christmas lunch unless he sat down with
three points safely banked, and he was delighted to be able to do so
ahead of a tough Boxing Day trip to Manchester United.

He said: 'The pudding will taste a
little bit sweeter. I feel sorry for our fans. We have put them through
the rack, really, over this last period.

'They have watched some football that
hasn't been our best. But you have periods in your tenure as a manager
and sometimes a season.

Getting it right: Harry Redknapp gives instructions from the sidelines

Getting it right: Harry Redknapp gives instructions from the sidelines

'Last season, we sailed through one or two low moments but not many. This year, it's been a sustained little run.

'But the last five games, two wins in
the last four Premier League games, they are starting to look the right
sort of stats now.

'Now we need to back that up and get a big win against one of the big clubs, and that would really cement us into mid-table.'

Defeat on Tyneside was the first for
QPR boss Harry Redknapp since taking over from Mark Hughes, although he
admitted his side had been hanging on when Ameobi settled the game.

He said: 'I thought we were going to hang on and nick a draw. I couldn't see us winning, but we just couldn't see it through.

'I thought we could hang on for a good point to keep us going, but it just wasn't to be.'

All smiles: QPR owner Tony Fernandes watches on at St James' Park

All smiles: QPR owner Tony Fernandes watches on at St James' Park

Premier League Boot Room: Teams, stats and Martin Keown opinion

The Boot Room: Space men fall for old one-two… why defenders MUST rethink how to stop crosses

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UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 7 December 2012

For a few weeks now, every time I have watched the Premier League I have seen too many goals from crosses that could have been prevented.

Last weekend alone, the goals by Wayne Rooney for Manchester United v Reading, Jermain Defoe for Tottenham v Fulham, Daniel Agger for Liverpool v Southampton and Jamie Mackie for QPR v Aston Villa were among those caused by players being given too much space in the penalty area.

It is an increasing problem and one that comes from central defenders not knowing how to defend when they are up against one striker.

All too easy: Wayne Rooney's second at Reading was just one goal scored thanks to bad defending from a cross

All too easy: Wayne Rooney's second at Reading was just one goal scored thanks to bad defending from a cross

With most teams playing one man up front these days, central defenders are used to a system where one of them picks up the striker and the other waits for the runner from deep.

It works well but as soon as the ball is moved out wide, defenders seem to be obsessed with moving into space rather than marking players.

Imagine the ball is out on the left wing with one of the league’s best crossers — Gareth Bale or Leighton Baines, for example. What you now often see is the second centre half marking the lone striker and the first centre half dropping into space in line with the six-yard box but just in front of the near post. That defender isn’t marking anyone, he’s just marking air, hoping that the ball comes to him to clear.

TALKING TACTICS

You hear pundits all the time saying, ‘Oh, he’s taken up a great position there’, as the ball is cleared but there are plenty of other times when a second attacking player arrives late into space unmarked and is free to score.

Michu of Swansea is particularly good at it, intelligently finding space to knock the ball home unopposed. He uses the defenders like mannequins in a training session. The other possible outcome is that the second central defender finds himself trying to mark two men.

This concept of not marking a man goes against everything I was taught. My youth-team coach Terry Burton told us to get ‘touch tight’, or get within a yard of our opponent in case he gets the ball.

That way he has little time to do any damage and if the ball is put into the space instead, you can back yourself to get there first and clear the danger.

Standing where so many of these central defenders do now also goes against what my coach Steve Harrison taught me at Aston Villa. If the forward can see the number on your shirt — that is, he is behind you — then you can’t see him. That means you don’t know where he’s moving and you stand a poor chance of stopping him.

That’s what I am seeing now — too many defenders watching the ball and not their man when the ball comes into that corridor of uncertainty between the six-yard box and the penalty spot. A defender would be better off tucking in, in line with the frame of the goal so he is not so far away from the danger. Only if a winger beats the full back and goes towards him should he then move to close him down.

I shoot, they score

Hearing
that Jonjo Shelvey will play up front for Liverpool reminds me of when I
was briefly a striker for Brighton in 1985. It was a home game against
Charlton in the old Division Two and I scored in a 5-3 defeat at home. I
should have had a second too, chipping the keeper when I ran on to a
through-ball. It hit the post and my head was still in my hands when
they scored seconds later at the other end!

What's the score


Boot room

Boot room

BOOT ROOM TOP FIVES

TOP SCORERS

Michu. . . . . . Swansea 10
Suarez. . . . . Liverpool 10
Ba. . . . . . . . . Newcastle 10
Van Persie. . Man Utd 10
Defoe. . . . . . Spurs 9

MOST ASSISTS

Rooney. . . . . . Man Utd 7
Mata. . . . . . . . Chelsea 6
Hazard. . . . . . Chelsea 5
Ruiz. . . . . . . . . Fulham 5
McAnuff. . . . . . Reading; plus 6 on 4

MOST SAVES

Jaaskelainen. . West Ham 70
Al-Habsi. . . . . Wigan 55
Cech. . . . . . . . Chelsea 53
Mignolet. . . . Sunderl’d 50
Ruddy. . . . . . . Norwich 50

PASS SUCCESS %

Arteta. . . . . . . . Arsenal 93.0
Mertesacker . . Arsenal 92.8
Ferdinand. . . . Man Utd 92.7
Ki. . . . . . . . . . . Swansea 92.3
Britton. . . . . . . .Swansea 92.2

MOST FOULS

Fellaini. . . . . . Everton 41
Holt. . . . . . . . . Norwich 40
Arteta. . . . . . Arsenal 35
Adam. . . . . . . Stoke 34
30: Johnson Norwich; Yacob West Brom.

Harry Redknapp inherits flawed QPR squad

Flaw show for Harry as QPR throw away lead against United at Old Trafford

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UPDATED:

23:18 GMT, 25 November 2012

After sitting in the directors’ box at Old Trafford for 80 minutes, Harry Redknapp can probably sum up the Queens Park Rangers squad he has inherited from Mark Hughes. Decent players. Deep flaws.

A goal up and less than half an hour left, the Barclays Premier League’s bottom team sensed increasing desperation in their opponents. There was a restless home crowd, too.

Three goals in 10 minutes undid them, though, and once again QPR were left to lament basic mistakes. Errors in concentration, errors in application and errors in decision making.

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Work to be done: QPR manager Harry Redknapp takes his first training session

Forward Jamie Mackie summed it up, saying: ‘When you look at Man United you see the greatest club in the world and their basics are spot on.

‘That’s what it takes to win these games and, if we can take anything from this great club, it’s that. We were leading and failed to do the basics at two set pieces. That’s unacceptable. We need to eradicate the soft goals because they are killing us.

‘Its a real shame. We have to take responsibility. The previous manager brought a lot of these players in and there were some good players here already. It’s no good pointing the finger at anybody else.’

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Down and out: QPR took the lead at Old Trafford but conceded three

Having scored his team’s goal, Mackie was also one of QPR’s better players. During Hughes’s time, though, the players did not apply themselves. On Saturday they did for long periods for caretaker boss Mark Bowen.

Bowen refused to criticise the club’s owners and offered his services to Redknapp if required. Deep down, though, he knows he will lose his job today. ‘It hurts but we will be back and Mark will definitely be back,’ he said.

As for United, this was the ninth time in 13 league games that they have had to come from behind.

Headers from Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher put them in command and substitute Javier Hernandez stroked in the third.

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

Signed, sealed, delivered: Javier Hernandez fires in United's third

It’s a habit Sir Alex Ferguson’s team cannot allow to continue. Wayne Rooney said: ‘It’s happening too many times. We need to take control of games.’

Redknapp, meanwhile, has opened the door for David Beckham, calling the 37-year-old a ‘fantastic’ footballer who could ‘still play in the Premier League’.

He added: ‘David could still be a great asset. Just having him round the place, showing people how to train and look after yourself. His professionalism is second to none.’

Manchester United 3 QPR 1 – match report

Manchester United 3 QPR 1: Redknapp watches Rangers throw it away as Fletcher scores on league comeback

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 24 November 2012

Harry Redknapp left Old Trafford with plenty to ponder as Manchester United roared back to condemn QPR to the worst Premier League start any side has made after 13 games.

Rangers remain rooted to the foot of the table despite taking a second-half lead through Jamie Mackie.

Any hope Redknapp might have had of his new charges marking his installation as manager by recording their first win of the season evaporated with three United goals in a nine-minute burst.

Comeback kid: Darren Fletcher scored what proved to be the winner for Manchester United against QPR

Comeback kid: Darren Fletcher scored what proved to be the winner for Manchester United against QPR

MATCH FACTS

MAN UNITED: Lindegaard; Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans; Young (Anderson 59), Scholes (Hernandez 59), Fletcher; Rooney, Welbeck (Powell 79), Van Persie Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Cleverley.

Booked: Scholes

Goals: Evans 64, Fletcher 68, Hernandez 72.

QPR: Julio Cesar; Traore (Ferdinand 61), Hill, Nelsen, Derry; Taarabt (Hoilett 73), Dyer, Faurlin (Granero 84), M'bia, Cisse, Mackie Subs not used: Green, Diakite, Wright-Phillips, Ephraim.

Booked: Mbia.

Goals: Mackie 52.

Attendance: 75,603

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

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Unlikely scoring hero Jonny Evans
grabbed another to pull the hosts level before Darren Fletcher found the
perfect way to mark his first Premier League start in a year.

Javier Hernandez bagged another to confirm United's status as leaders ahead of Manchester City's visit to Chelsea tomorrow.

Redknapp had seen enough, leaving
four minutes from the end to contemplate what he has already admitted
represents the biggest challenge of his managerial career.

/11/24/article-2237761-16311CCB000005DC-873_634x328.jpg” width=”634″ height=”328″ alt=”Watching on: Harry Redknapp, confirmed as QPR boss on Saturday morning, was in the stands” class=”blkBorder” />

Watching on: Harry Redknapp, confirmed as QPR boss on Saturday morning, was in the stands

Keep your seat warm: Mark Bowen took charge of the team following the sacking of Mark Hughes

Keep your seat warm: Mark Bowen took charge of the team following the sacking of Mark Hughes

If Redknapp, stationed alongside
chief executive Philip Beard in the directors' box, could enjoy his
break in positive mood, the notable United figures sat nearby, who had
stayed on from yesterday's Ferguson statue unveiling, would have been
less happy.

After successive defeats at Norwich and Galatasaray, the hosts should have been ready to tear at weakened opponents.

Instead, they pawed around in virtual disinterest.

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Danny Welbeck produced cut-backs from
either flank for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney but neither marksman
could hit the target, and Ashley Young also sliced the ball into the
side-netting.

You would not have needed to be
around as long as Redknapp to understand being goalless at half-time
against a team managed by Ferguson counts for little.

On the previous 21 occasions United had been in such a position, 19 had ended in a home win.

Nevertheless, the confidence exuded
by Julio Cesar to step inside a Rooney challenge deep inside the
visitors' box suggested a large degree of confidence, either than or
insanity.

Yet, this season at least, as much a feature of United winning has been their concession of the first goal.

Comeback: Jonny Evans powered home an equaliser to spark United's revival

Comeback: Jonny Evans powered home an equaliser to spark United's revival

It had happened in their previous four games so it was no surprise they should fall behind again.

Defensively, they were supposed to be
getting stronger personnel wise. There was no evidence of it though as
United failed to read a short corner and then failed to prevent Kieron
Dyer getting down the by-line.

Then, after Anders Lindegaard had only been able to shove Dyer's low cross away from his goal, Mackie finished off.

Within minutes, Adel Taarabt had curled a free-kick narrowly over.

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Ferguson took immediate action, hauling off Paul Scholes and Young in favour of Anderson and Javier Hernandez.

The change took a little while to have any discernable effect, but eventually, United brought themselves level.

Rooney spoke only yesterday about not
being bothered to relinquish some of the goalscoring responsibilities
he has carried since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.

He cannot have expected Evans to have picked up the mantle.

Prior to this season, the Northern Irishman had only scored one United goal.

When he was on hand to turn home Welbeck's header from Rooney's corner, it was his third of the season.

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

If that goal was well received, the
one Fletcher got to put the hosts ahead from another Rooney corner
triggered an emotional reaction from the Scot.

It was Fletcher's first Premier
League goal since that derby-day mauling by Manchester City 13 months
ago, most of the intervening period he spent battling against a chronic
bowel complaint that threatened his career.

Hernandez was soon tucking home his
ninth of the season as QPR showed their brittle side again, completing a
disastrous nine-minute spell which underlined why they are in so much
trouble.

Clint Hill had a header cleared off the line by Rafael before the end, although by then, Redknapp had gone anyway.

QPR want Manchester City striker John Guidetti on-loan

QPR set to make move for City striker Guidetti to replace crocked forward Johnson

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UPDATED:

06:12 GMT, 20 September 2012

QPR boss Mark Hughes is planning to sign Manchester City striker John Guidetti to replace injured striker Andy Johnson.

Hughes hopes to tie up the emerging Swedish star on a loan deal in January to replace the one time England striker.

Loan star: John Guidetti is wanted by QPR

Loan star: John Guidetti is wanted by QPR

Guidetti, 20, spent last season on loan
at Feyenoord and rattled in an impressive 20 goals in 23 games —
including three hat-tricks in four matches.

Johnson looks set to miss most of the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage against Chelsea on Saturday.

Injury blow: Andy Johnson leaves the field after picking up an injury against Chelsea

Injury blow: Andy Johnson leaves the field after picking up an injury against Chelsea

The 31-year-old, making only his second
start for the club, was replaced by Jamie Mackie during the first half
of the goalless draw and Rangers confirmed on Monday that he will be out
for a 'prolonged' period because of the injury to his left knee.

The former Everton striker has fought frequent battles against injuries and missed a large chunk of the 2009-10 campaign for Fulham with a severe knee injury.

Johnson, who has won eight caps for England, joined Rangers on a two-year contract in the summer after his Fulham deal expired.

Hughes was initially hopeful Johnson would make a speedy return.

'AJ felt something in his knee. We hope he's going to be okay, but it's a little bit of worry,' Hughes said after the game.

'You need players like AJ in the squad
because they give so much. We'll send him for a scan over the next few
days and hopefully he'll be okay.'

Scotland 1 Macedonia 1: Craig Levein in danger

Scotland 1 Macedonia 1: Levein left in a dark place as nation rage against second setback

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UPDATED:

23:22 GMT, 11 September 2012

Hours after Andy Murray’s elevation to the status of a Scottish sporting god, Craig Levein finds himself in a very different place. That of a man fighting for his job.

On the back of a second poor home performance in four days, the odds on the thrawn Fifer’s survival are lengthening by the minute. Publicly Levein remains defiant and bullish. In denial even.

‘We are two points behind three teams on four points, with 24 still to play for,’ stated the manager. ‘I’m very positive about where we are going.’

Take that: Kenny Miller fired back to silence his critics

Take that: Kenny Miller fired back to silence his critics

MATCH FACTS

Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Webster, Berra, Dixon, Caldwell, Forrest, Maloney, Morrison (Rhodes 66), Mackie (Naismith 77), Miller (Adam 58).

Subs not used: Marshall, Hanley, Snodgrass, Cowie, Dorrans, McCormack, Foster, Phillips, Samson.

Goals: Miller 43

Booked: Adam

FYR Macedonia: Bogatinov, Georgievski, Sikov, Noveski, Popov, Ibraimi (Tasevski 89), Gligorov (Sumulikoski 70), Demiri, Trickovski (Hasani 37), Pandev, Ivanovski.

Subs: Pacovski, Mojsov, Grncarov, Ristic, Lazevski, Georgiev, Kristijian Naumovski.

Goals: Noveski 11

Booked: Ibraimi, Hasani, Gligorov, Pandev, Sumulikoski

Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia)

Att: 32,430

He may be the only one. Past Scots
teams who qualified for major finals tended to win their home games.
With two points from two encounters in Glasgow, the Road to Rio now
looks strewn with boulders and obstacles.

Blood shot and weary following
Murray’s late-night Fairytale in New York, the nation has returned to a
more familiar sporting tale. That of the distinctly Grimm variety.

/09/11/article-2201776-14F716A7000005DC-86_634x447.jpg” width=”634″ height=”447″ alt=”Back on track: Miller (second right) celebrates his first-half equaliser” class=”blkBorder” />

Back on track: Miller (second right) celebrates his first-half equaliser

There were loud, lengthy boos at the
final whistle from the 32,430 crowd – the lowest attendance for a home
qualifier since 2001. More telling still, however, were the grumbles of
discontent when the manager replaced Scotland’s goalscorer Kenny Miller
with midfielder Charlie Adam. It was a far from ridiculous substitution,
but right now trust is fading fast.

‘We want a striker,’ demanded the
crowd. Levein is not noted for his willingness to accept free advice,
yet within minutes new golden boy Jordan Rhodes took to the field and
came close once or twice. Steven Naismith also came on in a desperate,
vain late bid to snatch all three points.

Who will dispute, however, that a
winner would have flattered Scotland If there was a fortunate hue to
the scoreline which witnessed the players in dark blue level at
half-time then it remained after 90 error-strewn minutes.

The hosts toiled and laboured their
way through a match during which the National Stadium seemed perpetually
in a state of simmering – sometimes verbal – dismay.

Come on: Scotland players celebrate their equaliser

Come on: Scotland players celebrate their equaliser

Bad beginning: Nikolce Noveski opens the scoring for Macedonia

Bad beginning: Nikolce Noveski opens the scoring for Macedonia

Noveski celebrates

It took 43 minutes for a meaningful
chance to emerge. Kenny Miller duly claimed his 17th goal for his
country in a personal retort to his many critics. His display against
Serbia picked over and dissected, it was a sweet moment for the
32-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps striker. If ultimately a vain one.

He slotted home from 10 yards with his
left foot after James Morrison slid a precise pass through for Jamie
Mackie, the ball creeping past the lunging left foot of Vanche Shikov
and kindly into the path of the QPR striker.

Mackie, one of three changes to the
starting line up which drew with Serbia – 6-1 winners over Wales – had
every right to consider a shot. He opted instead for an unselfish square
ball to a lurking Miller, who slotted the ball into the net to some
relief.

Frankly, there had been little before
that to suggest Scotland had it in them. In contrast, Macedonia –
inspired by the peerless and immaculate Goran Pandev – had begun the
game with some purpose and poise.

They took the lead in 11 minutes and were well worth their advantage.

Grin: Craig Levein seemed happy enough before kick-off

Grin: Craig Levein seemed happy enough before kick-off

There was a suspicion of offside
against scorer Nikolche Noveski as he slotted home Ivan Trichovski’s low
cross, but no arguing with the quality of the lead-up play. Macedonia,
in truth, might have scored more in an opening half hour when Scotland
looked cloven-hoofed and industrial in the face of a footballing
masterclass from the sublime Pandev.

A former Serie A and Champions League
winner with Inter Milan, he was simply majestic on Tuesday. Not for
nothing is he a personal favourite of Jose Mourinho.

His graceful brilliance was a source
of perpetual embarrassment for the Scots. He pulled players from the
home nation inside out at times, then turned back to do it all again.

Fortunately for the team in dark blue, his team-mates couldn’t always match his speed of thought.

Agim Ibrahimi, the No 19, came
closest. As Pandev twisted and bamboozled his way past the flummoxed duo
of Shaun Maloney and Alan Hutton he dinked a quite delightful ball
through for his attacking team-mate – Ibrahimi’s shot blocked by the
legs of Allan McGregor.

It should have been 2-0. Yet Miller’s goal offered Scotland a degree of hope which, frankly, they barely deserved.

Clump: Charlie Adam piles in

Clump: Charlie Adam piles in

Utterly devoid of creativity or
imagination, better things were demanded of Levein’s team in the second
half. Broadly speaking, however, the match followed a similar pattern.
Scotland possession aplenty followed by an abject final ball.

Before the hour point, indeed, Macedonia again created two terrific chances to score.

Raiding right back Georgievski covered
40 yards in quick time to race onto a Demeri lay off after more
exemplary vision from Pandev.

Scotland survived and did so again
moments later when Macedonia substitute Ferhamn Hasani smashed a
thumping right foot shot flush against McGregor’s left-hand post from 20
yards.

Predictably, all of this added to the air of growling derision building a head of steam within Hampden.

Tribute: Andy Murray's exploits were celebrated

Tribute: Andy Murray's exploits were celebrated

The introduction of Adam – for goalscorer Miller – brought a chorus of boos. Followed swiftly by demands for a striker.

In the aftermath of the Serbian
stalemate, Levein had issued a defiant message to supporters. He would,
he insisted, continue to do things his way.

As chants for Rhodes intensified, however, the manager listened.

The 8million Blackburn man replaced
an out of touch Morrison to rousing roars of approval. His first touch
was a downward, diving header from a James Forrest cross which fizzed
inches wide of the post.

The general ebb and flow and pattern
of the game remained, however. Pandev played, Scotland reacted.
Invariably just a second or two too late.

Cheery: Macedonian fans were in good voice as they arrived at Hampden Park

Cheery: Macedonian fans were in good voice as they arrived at Hampden Park

The Napoli man’s impeccable passing in
behind a static defence created another fabulous opportunity when
Ivanovski raced in on goal. He looked odds on to score until McGregor
spread his body to block the low shot across goal with his right leg.

In that moment, he earned his man of the match award. He might also have saved Craig Levein’s bacon.

Who beyond the man himself, however,
can deny that a point against the team ranked 97th in the FIFA rankings
makes the manager’s prospects look increasingly bleak The people have
spoken and the SFA will find it hard to turn a deaf ear.

Up above: A rainbow graced the sky above Hampden Park before kick-off

Up above: A rainbow graced the sky above Hampden Park before kick-off

Scotland 1 Macedonia 1: Kenny Miller hits back at critics

Scotland 1 Macedonia 1: Miller equaliser hits back at critics but Levein's side frustrated

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UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 11 September 2012

Kenny Miller's equaliser rescured Scotland against Macedonia but his side will be disappointed with only taking a single point away from Hampden Park.

Scotland fell behind when Nikolce Noveski tucked home after 11 minutes but Miller equalised just before the break.

Craig Levine's side tried to find a winner in the second half but could not break through, leaving them with much to do to qualify for the World Cup. They now have drawn both of their games in the group.

More to follow.

Take that: Kenny Miller fired back to silence his critics

Take that: Kenny Miller fired back to silence his critics

Back on track: Miller (second right) celebrates his first-half equaliser

Back on track: Miller (second right) celebrates his first-half equaliser

Come on: Scotland players celebrate their equaliser

Come on: Scotland players celebrate their equaliser

Bad beginning: Nikolce Noveski opens the scoring for Macedonia

Bad beginning: Nikolce Noveski opens the scoring for Macedonia

Noveski celebrates
MATCH FACTS

Scotland: McGregor, Hutton, Webster, Berra, Dixon, Caldwell, Forrest, Maloney, Morrison (Rhodes 66), Mackie (Naismith 77), Miller (Adam 58).

Subs: Marshall, Hanley, Rhodes, Adam, Snodgrass, Naismith, Cowie, Dorrans, McCormack, Foster, Phillips, Samson.

Goals: Miller 43

Booked: Adam

FYR Macedonia: Bogatinov, Georgievski, Sikov, Noveski, Popov, Ibraimi (Tasevski 89), Gligorov (Sumulikoski 70), Demiri, Trickovski (Hasani 37), Pandev, Ivanovski.

Subs: Pacovski, Mojsov, Grncarov, Ristic, Tasevski, Lazevski, Hasani, Georgiev, Sumulikoski, Kristijian Naumovski.

Goals: Noveski 11

Booked: Ibraimi, Hasani, Gligorov, Pandev, Sumulikoski

Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia)

Grin: Craig Levein seemed happy enough before kick-off

Grin: Craig Levein seemed happy enough before kick-off

Tribute: Andy Murray's exploits were celebrated

Tribute: Andy Murray's exploits were celebrated

Cheery: Macedonian fans were in good voice as they arrived at Hampden Park

Cheery: Macedonian fans were in good voice as they arrived at Hampden Park

Craig Levein won"t be forced to start Jordan Rhodes

Rhodes Block! Levein won't listen to calls for Jordan to start for Scotland

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 9 September 2012

Craig Levein has vowed to resist fan pressure to throw on scoring sensation Jordan Rhodes from the start against Macedonia.

The Scotland manager has a selection dilemma for tomorrow night’s must-win qualification clash at Hampden after his attacking players drew a blank in an uninspiring goalless stalemate against Serbia.

The Tartan Army made their feelings clear when they chanted for 8million Blackburn new boy Rhodes following an hour of frustration on Saturday.

Wait your chance: Jordan Rhodes doesn't like being selected to start for Scotland

Wait your chance: Jordan Rhodes doesn't like being selected to start for Scotland

The former Under-21 international finally appeared from the subs’ bench just nine minutes from time alongside Jamie Mackie – with Levein admitting he might have changed things earlier.

Warning that supporters will never be allowed to pick his team, however, the Scotland manager said: ‘I must use my experience. If, every time the fans start chanting for a player, and I put them on because they want them on, then you would be as well not having a manager. The supporters would pick the team.

‘In the situation we were in, I did what I considered to be the right changes at the right times.

‘I might have gone a little bit earlier with the two substitutions of the strikers. But I felt the game went reasonably well. I’m just disappointed we didn’t get the goals.’

Flawed: Kenny Miller continues to struggle

Flawed: Kenny Miller continues to struggle

Playing up front on his own and feeding from meagre scraps, Kenny Miller had a frustrating day against the Serbs. Levein, however, believes Miller is still the best man to play the solo forward role in his favoured 4-1-4-1 formation, hinting that fan favourite Rhodes will again have to settle for a place on the subs’ bench against Macedonia.

‘I have been doing this for a long time,’ said the manager. ‘Jordan Rhodes is a really good player, but he is untried and untested at international level.

‘I thought Kenny Miller played excellently. He worked his socks off for the team, got us up the pitch and had a couple of opportunities himself.

‘Would I class the two of them as the same player right now No, I don’t think they are. What Jordan can do is have an impact on the game. It may be that Tuesday is the game he has an impact on.

‘But I do feel that we go from nothing to the extreme of “he is the best player who ever played”.

‘Jordan is a young lad learning his way in the game and I will make my judgments based on what I see in training and who we are playing.

'He has come on the scene and scored a lot of goals. So, in the minds of supporters – rightly so – Jordan equals goals. But that doesn’t always work.

'I put on James Forrest to open up the game and see if we could get round the back of them. He did, but more towards the end of the match. I thought he did well.

'I have to make judgments based on what I think is the right thing to do at the time. I also thought Jamie Mackie was excellent. If you want to talk about who impacted the game most, then that was Mackie.

'I know what he can do. I know what Jordan can do and I have to do what I think is best for the team. The two of them did make a difference when they came on.'