More question than answers for Southgate and Co

England 0-0 Scotland 

A lack of creativity – Little in the way of flair – Ultimately, shown the way by their nearest and dearest when it came to heart and passion.

Scotland will consider themselves unlucky not to have seen off the Auld Enemy and claimed the 115th chapter in international footballs oldest rivalry. Indeed, had quality matched heart, Gareth Southgate could have had a far bigger problem on his hands. His side appeared to have been found out. Steve Clarke had done his homework – his side troubled only by an early header from John Stones which rattled an upright. From an England perspective, there was little or nothing more to enthuse over.

Positives; An England victory over the Czech Republic will still see them top the group.

Negatives; Leggy and lethargic – Question marks over the fitness of Harry Kane – Lacking urgency and little in the way of bravery. More questions than answers for the manager and his disjointed charges.

Jordan Pickford thwarted Stephen O’Donnell, while a Reece James goal-line clearance denied Lyndon Dykes as Scotland threatened to upset the applecart. Southgate left it far too late in turning to his bench. Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford handed little time to unlock a watertight Scottish rearguard – Skipper Kane departing proceedings quarter of an hour from time – One wonders how the out of sorts frontman lasted that long?

Southgate attempted to throw some light on the matter: “We needed more runs in behind, I felt Marcus Rashford would give us that energy, at that point we had got to try and get them. We have to make these decisions based on what we see,” he told ITV Sport.

But the England chief conceded it simply wasn’t good enough from his side: “I think it was a frustrating night, we know we can play better. Got to give Scotland credit they defended valiantly and played well. 

“We didn’t do enough to win the game but after that, the thing we have to worry about in tournament football after that is we had to make sure we didn’t lose it. We know it’s a disappointment for our supporters, but we have to dust ourselves down and move on.”

England now faces the Czech Republic on Tuesday, June 22 at Wembley Stadium in their final UEFA Euro 2020, Group D fixture (8pm).

England: Pickford; James, Stones, Mings. Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Foden (Grealish 63′), Mount, Sterling; Kane (Rashford 74′) Subs not used: Maguire, Henderson, Trippier, Ramsdale, Coady, Sancho, Calvert-Lewin, Chilwell, Johnstone, Bellingham

Scotland: Marshall; McTominay, Hanley, Tierney; O’Donnell, McGinn, Gilmour (Armstrong 76′), McGregor, Robertson; Dykes, Adams (Nisbet 86′) Subs not used: Christie, Gordon, Fleck, Cooper, Fraser, McLaughlin, Patterson, Hendry, Forrest, McKenna

Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz

Attendance: 22,500

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]