Sunday, 29 March 2015

Ritchie gets 45 minutes for Scotland

It was a bit of a mixed reaction by Scottish fans on Matt Ritchie's performance in the first 45 minutes against Gibraltar. While he made a great through ball for Shaun Maloney to get on to which led to the initial penalty and gave Scotland the lead, Ritchie did not get on the ball as much as he does for the Cherries and while Scotland were looking shaking at the back at times, he was replaced at half time for another defender - Gordon Greer.
Matt is just getting used to the international scene.
Of course, this was only Matt's second cap and Gordon Strachan is probably aware of what potential Matt has and that AFCB are involved in a massive race for the Championship. For all we know Eddie Howe may have asked that Matt be not asked to play 90 minutes in both matches while he was away with the Scotland squad. Scotland were also 4-1 up at half time and so the points were really in the bag for this game by half time considering Gibraltar had not scored this campaign in any of their other fixtures. 

It was still noticeable that Ritchie was chosen to start ahead of Derby's Johnny Russell both against Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Strachan clearly was not worried about putting Matt right into the heat of battle with a European Qualifier and while Gibraltar are not the most dangerous of sides, the fact that they scored against Scotland and gave them plenty of problems in the first 20 minutes illustrated that they are not the push over some might have thought.
Matt is hopefully going to return fresh for AFCB.
I did feel Matt did not get on the ball as much as he would have liked and when he did get it he did find the big number nine - Steven Fletcher - quite well with his crosses and if Strachan is looking for a quality crosser of the ball, then Matt should be in his plans going forward. It is not only Matt Ritchie who needs to get to know how Gordon Strachan's team play, Scotland also need to try and give Matt what he needs to get the best out of him. 

We did see Matt have one shot in the first half against Gibraltar but it was tame and right at the keeper. It is may be going to take Matt a bit more time to contribute in a Scotland shirt as well as he does in an AFCB shirt but I was just thankful that he did not pick up an injury and that he can use the experience to add to what he has already learnt in the Championship.

Scotland ran out 6-1 winners against Gibraltar.

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