Rab Douglas: Scotland give themselves a fighting chance after crucial double header

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Scotland's Andrew Robertson jumps over a challenge by Malta's Steve Borg.

I said last week that Scotland were drinking in the last-chance saloon so we will raise a glass to a job well done with the two wins over Lithuania and Malta in the World Cup qualifiers.

If we had faltered it was all over but we have given ourselves a fighting chance now.

Obviously we still need some results but thankfully everything went right for us in the two games.

The opposition may not have been the highest quality but in years gone by, Scotland have maybe been caught up in that and dropped points so it was imperative we won those two games to have any chance of qualification.

We needed England to do us a favour and they did. So we just went about our business in the right manner and got the reward.

Crucially we have now built up a bit of momentum. We are keeping clean sheets and we are scoring goals – you can’t ask for better than that.

We now play Slovakia at what will hopefully be a packed Hampden next month in another must-win game.

They beat us 3-0 the last time we met but this is a much-changed Scotland side now.

We are hanging in there but you hope they now have the confidence to approach the game believing they can win.

As I said, at one point I thought we were definitely out so the lads have done brilliantly to come back and give themselves a chance of making the play-offs.

The team did well in the double header but I was really impressed by the individual performances of former Dundee United lads Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson.

They have come in and are performing consistently at international level.

Scott Brown also did well especially as he was walking a suspension tightrope knowing that another booking would rule him out of the crunch game against Slovakia.

So to not react when he was spat at by one of the Malta players showed remarkable restraint.

Spitting is the worst thing in football for a professional player to do.

So Scott deserves a lot of credit for not reacting. For me, Scott Brown just tries to go about his business under the radar.

He does all the hard, dirty work so the flair players like Armstrong have the freedom to express themselves.

It is now back to domestic matters and I would be surprised if Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers does not rest some of the six Hoops players who turned out for Scotland in the double header for Friday night’s match at Hamilton.

Celtic have their huge Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain next Tuesday and they will not want to take any risks.

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St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright (left) and striker Michael O’Halloran receive the Ladbrokes Premiership Manager and Player of the Month awards for August.

It is the Manager and Player of the Month time and it was good to see St Johnstone recognised with a double award after what has been a blistering start to the season for them.

Tommy Wright picked up the manager accolade with his side unbeaten in August including a draw at Parkhead.

He continues to fly under the radar and just quietly gets on with his business so huge credit to him.

Michael O’Halloran was also a worthy winner of the Player of the Month award.

He has been a huge part of Saints’ early-season success and the on-loan Rangers player certainly has a point or two to prove to Ibrox boss Pedro Caixinha after the Portuguese’s disparaging comments about O’Halloran.

I thought they were disrespectful and they are not something you hear very often in Scotland.

So for O’Halloran to come out and win the Player of the Month award puts more egg on the Rangers manager’s face, to be honest.

I am quite sure O’Halloran will want to do that every month especially as he is now to all intents and purposes playing for a future away from Ibrox.

It was also great to see my pal Barry Smith winning the League 1 manager accolade.

I am delighted for him but I think he is just delighted to be back in full-time football once more.

Raith are flying at the moment and he will do his best to get them out of that division and back to the Championship.

 

Dundee travel to face Rangers on Saturday at Ibrox, a venue where they do not have a good record.

However, I was lucky enough to play there and win with the Dark Blues back in 1999.

We triumphed 2-1 and I saved a penalty from Jorg Albertz, believe it or not.

Watching the present-day Dundee side, I think Neil McCann has made some good signings.

He will just be hoping that they can pitch up and have a go.

Teams aren’t as frightened of a trip to Ibrox as they used to be and I think Dundee have a chance.

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