A brilliant effort in a cagey contest handed Scotland U21s a big 1-0 victory away to Lithuania during European Championship qualifying.
It was a tight affair in Vilnius, both teams having only a few chances between them as they looked for that vital winner. A stunning strike from Motherwell midfielder Allan Campbell just under 10 minutes from time handed Scotland all three points.
Scot Gemmill had selected a strong starting XI for this UEFA U21s European Championship qualifier. The likes of Ross McCrorie, Lewis Ferguson, Campbell, David Turnbull and Fraser Hornby are all playing senior football at Premiership level or elsewhere, with plenty more in the squad boasting lots of senior experience.
A 1-0 defeat to Greece last time out left Scotland really needing a win to climb closer to their group four rivals, sitting four points off second place Greece heading into the away Lithuanian task.
The first 45 was an event contest, Lithuania getting the ball into the Scotland box plenty of times during the opening 20 minutes or so. Turnbull had a half-chance for the away side before Hornby had the best opportunity of the half.
His free kick from just outside the 18-yard box was well saved, Lithuania keeper and captain Titas Krapikas doing well to claw the Stade Reims man’s effort away from danger as it looped goalward.
It was 0-0 at half time and the first flashpoint of the second half came after the hour. Lewis Ferguson went down after a high boot, a stramash in the middle of the park seeing Ryan Porteous and Linas Megelaitis booked after the latter had an off the ball incident with Daniel Harvie.
Scotland were getting more of the ball inside Lithuania’s final third but efforts like Glenn Middleton’s speculative effort was all they had to show in terms of chances. Ross Doohan was called into needed action too, however, the Ross County keeper doing well to parry a shot from distance.
Motherwell’s Campbell was next to have a chance, a big one at that. Hornby did well to create space on the left, squaring it for the midfielder who could only sky his shot over the bar from around 12 yards out.
He would make up for that just minutes later in some style. As the ball broke to him on the edge of the area, the Well star swerved a shot into the net with the outside of his boot, the ball bobbling all over the place but still the midfielder stroked it home after 81 minutes.
Fellow Fir Park academy graduate James Scott should have made it 2-0 four minutes later as Hornby again put the ball on a plate, but the Hull forward could only drag wide.
In the end Campbell’s stunning strike was enough to give Gemmill’s men three points, sitting two points off Greece in group four.