Clarke: Cultivating belief has play-off spot in Scotland’s reach

The manager was pleased to see his side's perseverance against Faroe Islands.

Clarke: Cultivating belief has play-off spot in Scotland’s reach SNS Group

Steve Clarke has praised Scotland for cultivating the level of belief required to snatch two last-gasp World Cup qualifying winners in four days and be within three points of a play-off spot.

Striker Lyndon Dykes’ 86th minute winner against Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Tuesday night for a 1-0 win followed Scott McTominay’s added time winner in the equally dramatic 3-2 victory over Israel at Hampden Park on Saturday.

Those two crucial and hard-fought wins mean Scotland need just three Group F points from their final two fixtures – away to bottom side Moldova and at home to runaway section winners Denmark – to reach the play-offs in March.

“The players have shown over the last couple of years, the improvements they have made, that they have the belief, they want to do well for their country,” said Clarke, who will be without Dykes and Ryan Christie for the trip to Moldova through suspension after they picked up their second yellow cards of the campaign.

“You are in a game 0-0, you just have to keep going and keep going and hoping that you get the break.

“It probably looked a little bit more likely that the Faroes would score before us in the first half.

“We managed to have a better second-half performance, it always looked likely that we could score a goal and eventually we did.

“We still have to secure three more points to make sure.

“We are pleased with six points from this camp. It was a tough camp and four wins in a row is good but we need to go Moldova and make it five.

“We are not getting carried away, we understand what we have to do.

“We understand what is in front of us and that’s what we will focus on next month.

“We will enjoy the six points that we have taken from a difficult October camp and we look forward to November.”

Dykes became first player to score in four successive Scotland games since Colin Stein in 1969 and it was his second goal in a row that required a VAR check, after Nathan Patterson’s cross was forced on to his chest by Hordur Askham.

Asked if fates are conspiring to see the Scots into the play-off spot, keeper Craig Gordon said: “I hope so.

“It has been a good group for us so far. We have put ourselves in a very good position so hopefully we can finish that off now.

“We know it is still going to be another difficult game so we have to prepare well for that but certainly we have put ourselves in the best possible position.

“We have done what we needed to do in this camp and now we look forward to the next one having done a good job here.”

Dykes’ goal also meant Scotland have won four back-to-back games for the first time since 2007 and Gordon conceded that gave the camp “huge” confidence.

He said: “It is a while since we have done that but it is a good record.

“We are coming to the business end of the group now and it is a really good time to hit form. Hopefully we can keep that going for one more game.” 

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