They were taught a lesson at Tynecastle Park by a vibrant, effervescent and hugely enjoyable Turkish side who had a number of performers that look to have a big future ahead of them.
Twenty-fours after Scotland’s A-team had shown the advances they have made, the way they kept the ball and progressed play against Poland, the 21s treated it with suspicion and angst in a 2-0 loss.
Three wins from three are required to have any chance of progressing. Two of those games are against the top two, Belgium and Denmark.
“I don’t think we were qualifying anyway,” Houston, who was filling in for Scot Gemmill, said.
“What we are looking to do is finish third because qualifying becomes a bit harder when you are in a tougher group.”
Turkey were bigger, stronger and quicker. But it was the way in which they knocked it about, left to right and through the lines. They did so with purpose and confidence and at pace.
Kartal Yilmaz would often drop deep and allow Bunyamin Balci to motor forward from right-back. Ali Akman would come infield to pick up dangerous positions in half spaces and then there was Galatasaray’s Baris Yilmaz. A proper talent and someone who already has a full cap to his name from him. Needless to say it was a tough night for Calvin Ramsay.
In fact, it was a tough night for all those in dark blue.
“We were beaten by a better team,” Houston admitted. “We have to learn from that. If we had sneaked something from the game it would probably have been a travesty from their point of view because they were the stronger and better team.
“The only positive I can take is we got young players on the pitch like Josh Campbell, Connor Barron, Connor Smith, Jay Henderson. We gave them a bit of 21s experience.”
Scotland were nearly ahead within the first two minutes when Lewis Mayo met an excellent delivery from Calvin Ramsay only to be denied by Ersin Destanoglu.
From then on it was all about the visitors. Watford’s towering forward Tiago Cukur passed up a golden opportunity, heading over Kartal Yilmaz’s cross.
Even when Scotland showed more aggression and got closer, Turkey were too slick, too intelligent. Space was found and exploited.
Baris Yilmaz slipped past Marc Leonard on the touchline and fired across which was diverted into the back of Scotland’s net by Frukan Bayir. Yilmaz should have turned goalscorer moments later, cutting inside and firing just past before being harshly booked for a dive when Ramsay had a fistful of his shorts from him.
The second-half continued in much the same vein. Scotland threatened from set pieces, while Ciaran Slicker was the home side’s best player between sticks. But even he couldn’t do anything about the second goal which finished the game after 71 minutes as a speculative Kartal Yilmaz effort was diverted in via Stephen Welsh.
Gemmill has a chance of being back in the dugout for the match in Almaty but Scotland’s chances of qualification are all but done.
Scotland–Slicker; Ramsay, Welsh, Mayo, Doig; High (Campbell 46′), Williamson (Smith 81′); Banks (Rudden 46′), Fiorini (Henderson 76′), Leonard (Barron 46′); Middleton.
Turkey–Destanoglu; Balci, Bayir, Ozkacar, Sertel; Haspolat (Guneren 90′), K. Yilmaz; Akman (Aydin 90′), Kesgin (Gunes 72′), B. Yilmaz (Bayrakdar 67′); Tiago Cukur (Destan 90′).
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