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Bounce game provides striking solution

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Chris Jardine | 15:21 UK time, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

We were back in action on Tuesday night at Galabank where we shared the points in a 1-1 draw with Berwick Rangers.

I can vouch for everyone in the Annan dressing room when I say that we were disappointed to pick up just one point but I'm sure Berwick will feel exactly the same.

When I think back on the game, however, a draw was probably a fair result.

It was a bit of an up-and-down performance from ourselves but I hope that we can be allowed that bit of inconsistency from last night because we only just played our second game since 12 December.

Graeme BellGraeme "Belly" Bell turned in a great performance on Tuesday against Berwick Rangers
While I was away for a few days' holiday over the weekend, the squad had to make do with an almost full-scale bounce game between themselves.

I'm sure everyone understands that you never get the same out of these games as you do when it's of a competitive nature - especially when it's our coach Piedro Baldotto that's refereeing!

It gives players who have not played too much recently the chance to get some much needed minutes in a match situation.

Guys like Lewis Sloan and Alan Inglis, as well as Bryan Gilfillan, Mike Jack and Derek Townsley, who have all been injured recently, had the opportunity to prove their fitness to the manager.

Gilly and Jacko both returned to the starting line but big Degsy missed out again in what was a slight change to our normal formation.

We went with just the two up front due to the performance of Graeme Bell and David Cox from the bounce game on Saturday. Apparently they worked really well as a pair and I suppose it just goes to show that these type of training exercises are never meaningless.

I have to say that I thought Belly was superb and possibly put in the best performance from any of our strikers this season.

It's been well documented that it's a position we have struggled with this season and players have been in and out as the manager has tried to get the best combination. Belly certainly set a standard against Berwick that the rest will need to follow and hopefully he himself will continue.

Scotland manager Craig Levein has just overseen the first European Championship draw of his reign and it has once again thrown up a tough qualifying campaign for the national team.

This is to be expected, given our falling world ranking as a consequence of our performances in recent qualifying matches.

Alongside the reigning European Champions Spain, we are also joined by Czech Republic, Lithuania and Liechtenstein. Spain is the box office draw, of course, and it will be great to see them at Hampden Park.

We usually save our best performances for these type of games when nothing much is expected of us so let's keep our fingers crossed for something similar, although we will be doing well just to get close to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta!

I must admit to not knowing too much about Liechtenstein but right away Scotland must be looking at a battle for second place with the Czech Republic.

We will get an indication of just how tough that will be when they visit Hampden Park for a friendly early next month.

Scotland have also struggled against Lithuania in past qualifying games where most of the games have been tight so it might not just be the three-team race for those qualifying slots.

It is a new regime for the national team and I am quite excited with Levein at the helm. If the fixture list is a wee bit kinder to us than that of our last campaign, I don't think that second place is outwith our reach.


  • Comment number 1.

    The European draw is tough but no worse than the time we got both Italy and France in our group. I heard someone say we should try to play away to Spain first up, as they may just have a World Cup hangover and I tend to agree. Reaching second only means a (probably) tough qualifier but it is the best we can hope for. Good luck Craig, I fear we will need it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well done for the draw against Berwick. Having gone such a long spell without a game I'd have taken a point against the 3rd placed team before kick off no bother.

    No mention of the Barry Ferguson saga? Will he / wont he?

    In my humble opinion he should stay away. He would need to be the best player in the team in every game to appease the tartan faithful and anything less would surely result in the boo boys giving it big yins and this can only damage what has been a great season for him at club level.

    Good luck Scotland and Annan!

  • Comment number 3.

    Very good blog once again mate, bounce games are great sometimes for people who aren't getting a look in and can be saviours on the odd occaison, I agree with you on the Scotland bit as well. Czech Republic, as many people have said aren't the force they were, even from a few years ago, they have lost it a bit, Liechtenstein and Lithuania should really be easy games for us, but you never know with Scotland! I reckon the play offs system will ultimatley let us down though, if we do make 2nd place.

    Good luck against Livingston today!

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks for the comments as always.

    #2 - Ferguson seems to be doing well for his club right now although I'm only going by reports as I've not seen that much of him. I'm sure that Ferguson thought his international career was over and the main reason for the indecision may be for fear his club career would suffer.


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