LETHAL Lyndon Dykes continued his goalscoring sequence with the winner in a tense tussle against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn last night.
Scotland, after hard-fought victories over Austria and Israel, were heading for a scoreless stalemate against determined opponents in a gruelling World Cup confrontation.
With four minutes to go, Billy Gilmour slid a pass out to substitute Nathan Patterson, who had come on for Ryan Fraser, on the right wing and the defender slung an inviting cross into the box at the near post.
Former Livingston hitman Dykes created panic in the home defence and a rival hit the ball against the powerhouse striker’s chest and the ricochet flew into the net.
CHEST A MINUTE…Lyndon Dykes races away after his ricochet winner against the Faroe Islands.
Eventually, after what seemed an interminable delay, VAR awarded the strike and the Scots escaped with three points.
Dykes is now the first Scotland striker to score in four successive games since Rangers’ Colin Stein achieved the feat in 1969.
The victory leaves the Scots just one victory away from guaranteeing a play-off place for Qatar next year – they have the chance of making sure in Moldova on Friday November 12. Unfortunately, Dykes will miss the match after picking up a yellow card which will see him suspended.
Manager Steve Clarke admitted: “It was a tough night – what we expected, to be honest. The Faroe Islands had lots of energy, put us on the back foot in the first-half and made us a little bit nervous.
“We relied on Craig Gordan, who produced an unbelievable save and had great hands all night and gave us surety behind the defence, which was really important coming to a place like this.
“Second-half, I thought we had better control of the game. Patience and belief, and just keep plugging away. You are not always going to win in a fantastic free-flowing style, maybe as we did second-half Saturday when everyone’s excited.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON…Steve Clarke sends a message to his players from the touchline.
“This game was more nervous, it was about showing a different side to the team and making sure that we ground out the result. Three points is three points, the same as we got on Saturday.”
Clarke, speaking to Sky Sports News, added: “We are always trying to improve. I will go away and analyse the games. I will look at what I did right, what I did wrong, I will look at what the players did right, what they did wrong, and we will try and be better again next month.
“But let’s not be too sad about it. It’s six points, it’s been a really big camp for us, it’s four wins in a row, Lyndon gets another goal, which is great, and we have put ourselves in a really good position.
“Now we have to make sure that next month we finish the job.”
A one-paced Scotland struggled to get going against a well-organised home side who had chances to take the lead.
LYNDON CALLING…matchwinner Lyndon Dykes celebrates after netting four minuts from the end of a traumatic confrontation.
Scott McTominay’s angled drive after 21 minutes was beaten away by Teitur Gestsson, but moments later, the keeper’s long punt down the park had the Scottish defence in trouble and it took a superb reflex save from Gordon to deny a close-range effort from Ari Mohr Jonsson.
Then Dundalk defender Sonni Nattestad threw himself at a right-wing cross from Brandur Hendriksson to flash a header over the bar from six yards.
Ryan Christie, who picked up a booking and will be ruled out along with matchwinner Dykes for the Moldova match, got in behind the defence in the 37th minute, but his cross went astray.
Gordon saved a long-distance free-kick from Hendriksson just before the break and McTominay hit a shot over the bar from the edge of the box after being set up by Dykes.
TRUE GRIT…Lyndon Dykes shows the World Cup spirit.
In the 63rd minute, Gilmour thumped a 20-yard shot past the post and five minutes later Celtic captain Callum McGregor replaced Jack Hendry as Clarke added some stability to his mid-line.
In the 75th minute, Gilmour was released into the box by McGregor, but hit Gestsson with a tame shot before the ‘keeper saved John McGinn’s close-range header from a Fraser cross.
Gilmour drove another attempt wide before Kevin Nisbet and Patterson came on for Christie and Fraser in the 83rd minute for a last throw of the dice.
Then came Dykes’ dramatic winner and now all eyes are on Moldova next month.