Pitch-perfect at Falkirk Stadium

Scotland U21s put on a good show

FALKIRK Stadium hosted its first Under-21 Scotland match on Tuesday night and looked every inch an inter-national facility.

Just over 2000 people packed into the theatre of dreams – so fresh it still has that showroom smell – and watched as one of its resident wizards came close to turning Swedes into turnips on at least three occasions.

Darryl Duffy (left) can count himself and the rest of the Scotland team unlucky after they were narrowly pipped 2-1 by the Swedish.

With 60 per cent possession, Scotland should have pocketed at least a draw in a hard-fought match.

Duffy was impressive throughout the 90 minutes – not bad when many speculated that he might not even get a proper run-out. On the night he got much more – but he could have been going away with the match ball if he and Scotland had got the rub of the green.

Duffy came agonisingly close to the opening goal in the 25th minute. If his studs had been an inch longer, the ball would have been nestling in the net. Five minutes later, Duffy was almost in again, but the Swedish keeper dashed from his goal line to thump the ball (and Duffy) away.

Sweden took the lead in 43 minutes and then doubled their tally in 57 minutes. Scotland hit back a minute later, via Jamie McCunnie, and it was game on again.

Duffy very nearly hit the equaliser when he pounced on a vicious low cross in 73 minutes. Within six minutes he weathered two hefty Swedish tackles – much to the relief of the Falkirk-flavoured crowd.

The second goal was again tantalising close when a cross by Richard Foster was just an inch too high for Duffy.

Hats off to the Falkirk man, though, he never gave up for even a second – chasing lost causes, starting attacks and harrying defenders to the last.

There was a buzz in the stand every time he touched the ball or made one of his bursting runs.

If he has made a good case for further caps then The Falkirk Stadium itself has also won some new fans.

The surface was immaculate – refusing to cut up despite the dreich weather – and the stand was a nice size.

Duffy told the Herald: "I could have had a hat-trick if it was going our way, but that's football for you. I was delighted to play the full game."