Scotland will head into the final game of Euro 2016 qualifying against Gibraltar knowing that their dream of reaching the tournament is over. Gibraltar are still aiming to collect their first point in Group D as they prepare to meet a side trying to finish an ultimately frustrating campaign on a high.
It was a familiar feeling for Gibraltar on Wednesday night as they slipped to yet another emphatic loss in the penultimate fixture of their first qualifying campaign as an official member of FIFA. Much like their previous performances in Group D, there was plenty of determination and stubbornness displayed by a team made up of mainly part-timers, but they were unable to avoid a 4-0 loss to Georgia.
Ten successive defeats were certainly expected for Jeff Wood and his players, but there will be an eagerness to end the campaign on a high when they take on a Scotland side still hurting from their disappointment in midweek.In truth, this campaign has been a learning process for the smallest nation in the competition, and although a positive result may still be far away, Wood will be desperate for his side to be resilient at the back as they look to offer signs that they could be a potential banana skin in the future.
Many followers of Gordon Strachan’s side would have booked their tickets for the trip to Gibraltar’s second home in the Algarve full of optimism a while back, but they will travel with a frustrated feeling after being dealt a cruel blow in their bid to reach next summer’s tournament.
After hitting back with goals from Matt Ritchie and Steven Fletcher against Poland, it looked like Scotland would be in with a shout heading into the final game before Robert Lewandowski struck for the second time at Hampden Park to earn a 2-2 draw for the visitors.
The result left the Tartan Army in fourth place, six points behind both Poland and Republic of Ireland as their hopes of a playoff spot were dashed in stoppage time, but fans and players will look further back for the reason behind their disappointment.
Scotland will be without Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths and his club-mate Charlie Mulgrew. Midfielders James McArthur and James Morrison, of Crystal Palace and West Brom respectively, and Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes also miss out.
Gibraltar take on Scotland tomorrow at 20:45 and you can follow the game on our Twitter @FGScoreCentre.