By: Hibernian Media on 09 Sep, 2018 11:25
Scotland under-21s picked up a vital three points at home to Andorra as the race to qualify for the UEFA European Championship next year in Italy reaches its conclusion, with Hibernian’s Stevie Mallan delighted with the result.
Fraser Hornby of Everton scored a hat-trick in Gorgie as Scot Gemmill’s side overcame their compact opponents, with the midfielder praising his team-mates for sticking to the game plan that the manager had selected.
The importance of grinding out the win was not lost on the summer signing from Barnsley, who knows that a similar performance is needed when the side face the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Stevie said: “It was a tough game and, as a team, we had to be patient. Andorra frustrated us in the first half as they were compact in shape and we had to be disciplined in shape to keep the ball moving and stick to the game plan.
“Sticking to that is exactly what we done as we did what the manager told us and we done what we worked on all week in training. There are a lot of positives to be taken from Thursday’s game.
“As it is a double header you want to do well in your first match. It brings the confidence of the boys even higher than it is and you take it into the second game.
“The boys will be up for it anyway I’m sure. When you are playing up against a top side like Holland you have to be up for it. We just have to work like did today and stick to our game plan no matter what it is. We need to do what we need to do as a team and I’m sure if we do we’ll have a good game.”
Tuesday’s game in Doetinchem in the south-west of the Netherlands will see a considerably step up in quality of opponent, but Mallan knows the side are feeling confident going into it.
He and his team-mates need to look no further than last year’s 2-0 victory at home to the Dutch youngsters, in which Stevie scored, to let them know that the job can be done.
The midfielder also cites the quality of his international team-mates and the first-team experiences they have as positives, but, above all else, he knows that the side need to work hard to take maximum points from the fixture.
Stevie said: “Having beaten Holland before it is a big confidence booster for us and it shows us that they are beatable. Even though it was a home game we still won, so you can’t take much more confidence than that.
“We have seen what we can do already against them and if we replicate what we done in the first game we can get the three points.
“Even though some of the players have changed from the match earlier in qualifying, there are still top quality players coming through that are playing first team football and a few youngsters at top clubs down south, so the standard is high.
“If we work hard and play well on Tuesday night then you will see the standard that we’ve got.”
On Thursday evening, Ryan Porteous impressed as he featured in the full 90 minutes of the game and Oli Shaw looked lively on his debut as he replaced Hornby late on – yet more positives for the side.
With the Hibernian trio all featuring Stevie believes that it is fantastic recognition for the club and is hoping to see more youngsters coming out of Hibernian and playing for their national teams.
He commented: “I knew about the young players before I joined Hibs, even playing against them as a young kid myself. The set-up at the club is always very good and to see players coming through the Hibs Academy into the Scotland under-21s is obviously very pleasing for everyone involved.
“To see my fellow team-mates from Hibs alongside me is who you want to be with. You want to see them succeed and do well. Big Ryan is solid at the back and Oli’s made his debut as well – I’m sure he wanted a goal but for his first call-up he was brilliant.
“What we want now, and I am sure the club will be the same, we want to push more boys into the first-team and the under-21s to get more recognition as they should.
“It’s a great set-up at Hibs and I’m delighted to be at the club. It’s good for me to be somewhere I can kick on and see other players doing the same.”
Image: Alan Rennie