Thursday, March 1, 2012
Norwich City defender Russell Martin won praise from Scotland manager Craig Levein after making his first full international start in the 1-1 draw against Slovenia last night.
Levein was delighted with Scotland’s performance for the first hour as they kept possession well with central midfield trio Charlie Adam, James Morrison and James McArthur impressing alongside man-of-the-match James Forrest.
Morrison hit the post before Scotland lost a soft opener to Andraz Kirm’s header but they soon levelled through Christophe Berra’s impressive leap and header in the 40th minute.
A static Martin failed to attack a cross ball as Kirm got in front to head the opener, after Charlie Mulgrew could not stop the cross, although he did find himself grounded after an initial challenge.
But Levein was generally pleased with the pair on their first starts after losing first-choice full-backs Alan Hutton and Phil Bardsley to injury.
“Strength in depth is important,’’ Levein said. “We lost two really good players in the full-back area and the two boys who came in I was really pleased with.
“Charlie Mulgrew has been on top of his game with Celtic, and Russell Martin as well, I thought they were excellent.’’
City duo Steve Morison and Andrew Crofts both started for Wales in the Gary Speed Memorial match at Cardiff City Stadium as the hosts lost 1-0 to Costa Rica.
Joel Campbell, on loan at Lorient from Arsenal, scored the only goal in the seventh minute as he calmly slotted home from Bryan Ruiz’s pass.
“It was always going to be difficult under the circumstances, it was not our normal preparation,” said new Wales boss Chris Coleman. “This was about one guy and it was important we were there to show our support and celebrate his life. It was a strange atmosphere because we were still grieving.”