Stark still hopeful of making finals despite points dropped

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Scotland Under-21s coach Billy Stark admits he would have hoped for more points on the board after last night’s 2-2 draw against Austria.

But he believes there is still plenty to play for in their European Championship qualifying group despite winning just five points from their opening three games.

Next up are Group Ten leaders the Netherlands away from home next month and Stark has refused to give up on his team’s hopes of maximum points from that game saying after the match at St Mirren Park: “Outside Luxembourg, the opposition is more than decent.

“The Netherlands have had a great start and people might say it’s not much of a surprise, and it isn’t.

“When you look at the footage of those games, they might have been fortunate even to get a draw from those games. That tells you that there is real competition in every game. We saw tonight that there is a fine line.

“I’ve been in football long enough to know that you can play really well and not win. I was looking for a greater return of points from the first three games but there is not a big gap between us.”

Scotland – featuring Hibs stars Paul Hanlon and David Wotherspoon – twice fought back from behind when a double from Huddersfield’s Jordan Rhodes cancelled out goals from Andreas Weimann and Deni Alar prompting Stark to add: “I was delighted with how we played. We created some good chances at good times. I was pleased about the spirit they showed to come back against a decent side.

“The game itself was a good spectacle. I felt if we got our noses in front we would get there but we just couldn’t get the final touch.”

Despite early Scotland pressure, it was the Austrians who took the lead. The defence stood off as Weimann unleashed a shot from 25 yards which appeared to catch goalkeeper Grant Adam by surprise.

Scotland equalised when a Gregg Wylde cross found Rhodes at the back post to nod home.

But Austria restored their lead three minutes before half-time when Richard Windbichler supplied the cross for Alar and his header found the back of the net. The home side levelled after the break when Peter Pawlett’s header in front of goal was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper but Rhodes reacted quickly to nod home the rebound.