Scotland skipper praises team for keeping calm

Scott Brown confronts Ireland goalscorer Jon Walters as Irish tempers boiled over at the Aviva Stadium
Scott Brown confronts Ireland goalscorer Jon Walters as Irish tempers boiled over at the Aviva Stadium
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Scott Brown believes Scotland passed more than a footballing test in Dublin on Saturday night.

Gordon Strachan’s side remain firmly in the hunt for Euro 2016 qualification thanks to a precious point gained against a Republic of Ireland side that resorted to rough-house and verbal ribbing in their attempts to unsettle their guests.

The Scotland captain seemed a particular target for these edgy tactics – he even said he “hoped” he was – but took satisfaction from the fact he and his team-mates were not sucked in by them as Martin O’Neill’s men tried to tease out the win they required to cut the gap on Scotland with four games now remaining.

“You always enjoy a little bit of babble on the park, eh?” said the former Hibernian midfielder. “It was quite interesting, quite intriguing and I enjoyed it. I didn’t give any, to be fair. Quite a lot of them were giving it to me. You always get a little bit in a game, especially on these occasions.

“We got the upper hand in the first game [with the 1-0 win in November] and that’s what they realised they needed to do. Fair play, they tried to play to their strengths again and they tried to wind us up, but none of us took the bait.”

Brown insisted that there was one straightforward reason that a far from impressive Scotland were able to secure the 1-1 draw to harvest four points out of a possible six in the quest to qualify for next summer’s French finals.

“We know that we are better than them,” the 29-year-old said. “We believed in ourselves and from the start to the finish we knew that if we played as well as we could – maybe we didn’t in the first half, but in the second half we came out and had a right good go – we could have got all three points. At the end of the day a draw is still a good result for us.

“The contest was them kicking it long and us trying to pass it, so it was really end to end. They play to their strengths and that’s what works for them. We’ve got our strengths but we don’t have a lot of height, to be perfectly honest. We try to find holes and find pockets. We’re a small team but we have great attitude and great work-rate.”