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Scotland on track to grab play-off place for World Cup 2018

Saturday 7th October 2017
Thursday night saw European World Cup Qualifiers return to action. One particular nation was in joyous celebrations after their game.

Scotland clinched a 1-0 win against Slovakia courtesy of Martin Skrtel's late own goal. Gordon Strachan will have felt relieved with the dramatic victory as his side now sit second in Group F.
Scotland is on 17 points, only two ahead of Slovakia, with the third-placed side having +2 better goal difference. So if the Tartan Terriers draw their final game and Slovakia win, second place will be decided on that criteria. If it still ends up equal, it would be down to overall goals scored. Scotland have netted ten while their nearest challengers only have seven. Fourth-placed Slovenia is also on 14 points with the same goal difference as Scotland, making the group even tighter.

On Thursday night, Scotland hit the bar, twice, showing they weren't shy to attack the Slovakian's defence. Another of the games talking points came when midfielder Darren Fletcher asked the physio if his ear was hanging off. With blood dripping down his neck, the Stoke City captain was cleaned up, bandaged, and ready to carry on.

The main incident took place in the 89th minute when Chris Martin put pressure on Skrtel, forcing the error. With that important 1-0 victory, momentum is now on Scotland's side. Although unable to top the group, the Tartan Terriers will still be pleased with how their campaign has gone.

After it became apparent that England would secure top spot, claiming the play-off position is now Scotland's main concern. However, the job is not complete. Slovakia will play Malta in the group's final game, which means Scotland will almost certainly need to win in Slovenia this Sunday.
Gordon Strachan knows he must win the final group game and will have planned his tactics carefully. With a qualifying record of five wins, two draws and just two losses, it shouldn't be much of a problem - but the Scots can't get complacent. One slip-up could ruin all their hopes and dreams of travelling to Russia next year.

The last time Scotland appeared in a World Cup was France 1998. Drawn into a group with Brazil, Norway and Morocco. Managing only one point from a possible nine, Craig Brown's men didn't make it into the knockout stages. But just competing at the tournament was something to shout about.

The current Scottish players now have the chance to make a name for themselves against Slovenia. The playoff position is literally on a plate for them. A comfortable night is called for - it would be fantastic to see another British side at next summer's World Cup.
Ljubljana is the setting for the final group game. Scotland won the reverse fixture, 1-0, thanks to a late goal from Chris Martin. With his recent involvement during the victory against Slovakia, you would expect him and his teammates to perform well for their travelling fans on Sunday. Although it can't be forgotten that Slovenia also remain fighting for the play-off spot.

The Tartan Terriers haven't qualified for the previous four World Cups. Now's the time for them to prove their renowned pride and passion during the vital World Cup Qualifier away at Slovenia. An opportunity to compete on the biggest footballing stage is at stake.
Jamie Kynaston

For my sins, I'm a season ticket holder at Stoke City, I have been proud to watch them for over 20 years. I follow most of the UK leagues and the major European ones too, and I've been told that I talk way too much about football.

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