Scotland boss Steve Clarke ignores statistics as he hails 'all-round performance'
Scotland boss Steve Clarke said it is not so much about statistics as what you do on the football pitch after seeing his side defeat Slovakia 1-0 at Hampden Park in the Nations League.
The win, courtesy of Lyndon Dykes’ second-half volley, takes the team on to seven points in the group and makes it seven unbeaten.
Scotland faced criticism for their lack of attacking impetus having not managed a shot on target in the playoff semi final penalty shootout win over Israel. And they hadn’t tested the Slovakian goalkeeper in the first-half on Sunday evening.
Clarke, however, was impressed with the “all-round performance”, which saw a strong defensive performance and the attack look much more threatening after the break.
“It was a game we controlled pretty much start to finish,” he told Sky Sports. “I always felt comfortable even when the opposition were probing. It was a good goal to win the game.
“We also get the success on the back of a terrific defensive performance as well. Two clean sheets in a row. It’s something we have been working hard on and hopefully we keep improving.
“Listen, you get criticised a lot. Shots on target, everybody flags up stats. One shot on target in two games, we've reached the play-off final, picked up another three points. Not so much about the statistics it’s what you do. We did create a lot of chances tonight.”
He added: “You have to understand the enormity of the game on Thursday night. I think tonight we saw a little bit of the release of that pressure. The players played a bit more with freedom, took a few more chances going forward, a little bit of risk at the back. But when you have three central defenders who played as well as they did tonight you always have a chance of a clean sheet. And we looked dangerous going forward.”
Clarke, whose focus is now on the Czech Republic match on Wednesday, also praised the performance of Andy Considine, the Aberdeen defender getting his first Scotland cap at 33, lining up on the left of a back three.
“I thought he was terrific when you think he just joined us the other day,” Clarke said. “International camps being what they are, you play a game on a Thursday night, Friday and Saturday is recovery so you don’t do a lot of work on the training pitch but Andy’s experience, he’s played close to 600 games at Aberdeen, 33 years of age, he's here on merit and I think he showed that tonight.”
Ryan Fraser came into the starting line-up as a forward alongside Lyndon Dykes and put in a man of the match performance.
“It was hard,” he told Sky Sports. Just trying to work hard, trying to influence the game any way I possibly can. I’ve never played striker before so it was different for me. I just tried to do my best
“That’s us unbeaten in seven now, top of the group which is brilliant. We’ll just go on to the next game against Czech Republic, if we can get a win there it gives us that momentum going into next month which is needed.”