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Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson delivers argument for more Scotland starts in 2-2 draw with Austria

Scotland's Lewis Ferguson in action in the 2-2 draw with Austria.
Scotland's Lewis Ferguson in action in the 2-2 draw with Austria.

Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson delivered an argument for more Scotland starts in a 2-2 friendly draw with Austria.

Despite Scotland’s flat performance Steve Clarke’s side looked on course for victory when 2-0 up with 15 minutes remaining.

However the Scots conceded twice late on and were fortunate not to suffer defeat.

There was unwanted deja vu for the Scots who let a lead slip on Thursday when conceding in injury time to draw 1-1 with Poland.

Ultimately the game was about Clarke mixing up his starting line up and giving rising players like Ferguson the chance to impress.

The 22-year-old produced a solid performance to prove his international credentials.

Clarke pitched Ferguson in from the start in one of five changes from the side that drew with Poland.

Ferguson had previously made two substitute appearances for Scotland.

Aberdeen midfielder Lewis Ferguson earned a first Scotland start against Austria in Vienna.

A first Scotland start was the next logical step in the progression of the midfielder who has been a key player at Aberdeen for four seasons.

It was reward for impressing Clarke in previous international squads and pay-back for his impressive club form, with 14 goals this season.

Playing in a deep midfield role Ferguson was tidy in possession, linked up well and was aggressive in the tackle.

He played for 77 minutes before being replaced by Billy Gilmour.

Aberdeen are primed for a summer bid of £3.5 from Italian club Cagliari for Ferguson who is contracted until summer 2024.

Making his first Scotland start will surely increase interest in Ferguson in the summer transfer window – and also potentially increase his value.

Scotland’s momentum continues

Scotland should have been involved in the World Cup play-offs in this international window.

Instead they have played two friendlies as the World Cup play-off semi final with Ukraine was postponed by FIFA following Russia’s invasion.

When that play-off is held remains unclear.

It was initially hoped the play-off, for the right to face Wales in the final, would go ahead in the next international break in June.

Austria’s Martin Hinteregger and Scotland’s Lewis Ferguson in action in the friendly in Vienna.

However that is looking increasingly unlikely as war continues in Ukraine.

Until that play-off Scotland are very much in holding mode, trying to continue momentum in games with nothing at stake.

It is a difficult situation for Clarke but at least it gives him the window to test players like Ferguson from the start.

Scotland created the opening opportunity in the third minute when John McGinn fired a half-volley straight at keeper Daniel Bachmann.

Scotland’s John McGinn with a first half chance against Austria in Vienna.

Moments later keeper Craig Gordon was forced to make a save from a  Sasa Kalajdzic  header. It would be a busy night for Gordon.

In the seventh minute McGinn again had a clear opportunity only to force a shot wide of the left hand post.

Veteran keeper Gordon made an impressive save in the 14th minute when getting down quickly to stop a Kalajdzic shot with an outstretched leg.

Scotland’s Lewis Ferguson in action against Austria in Vienna.

Yet again in the 2oth minute Gordon came to the rescue when blocking a shot from Marko Arnautovic.

Hendry heads home for Scotland

Scotland went ahead in the 28th minute when a corner kick from McGinn to the back post was headed back across goal and off the bar by Grant Hanley.

Defender Jack Hendry was quickest to react and headed in from close range.

The goal came against the run of play as Austria had been dominating.

Jack Hendry celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against Austria in Vienna.

McGinn nets for Scotland… yet again

Scotland doubled their advantage in the 56th minute with a stunning goal from McGinn.

Kieran Tierney cut back a pass from the byline to McGinn who drilled in a superb strike.

Scotland had hardly been in the second half until that goal.

During Clarke’s tenure as Scotland manager, no player has been involved in more goals than McGinn.

He has netted 12 goals and pitched in with four assists.

Gordon again produced a superb save in the 72nd minute when turning behind a vicious 22 yard shot from substitute Alessandra Schopf.

Moments later Gordon again saved, blocking Martin Hinteregger from range.

Austria got a deserved goal in the 75th minute  when Michael Gregoritsch got in front of Hanley to head home from six yards.

It was level in the 82nd minute when Schopf controlled a poor clearance at the edge of the box before unleashing a low 18 yard shot beyond Gordon.

It should have been 3-2 Austria moments later Andreas Weimann was clean through on goal – only to be denied by Gordon.

SCOTLAND (3-4-2-1): Gordon 8; Tierney 6, Hanley 6, Hendry 7, Robertson 6 (Hickey 57) , Jack 6 (McTominay 57), Ferguson 6 (Gilmour 77), Patterson  6(O’Donnell  57), Armstrong 6 (Christie 77), McGinn 7, Adams 6 (Dykes 66).

Subs: Clark, Kelly,  McGregor,  Halkett, Brown.

AUSTRIA (3-4-1-2): Bachmann; Dragovic, Hinteregger, Islanker (Wimann 74), Ulmer, Baumgartner (Schopf 59), Lainer (Grull 59), Lazaro, Sabitzer, Arnautovic, Kalajdzic (Gregoritsch 74)

Subs: Pentz;  Ullmann, Laimer

Man of the Match: Craig Gordon (Scotland)

Referee: Tamas Bognar (Hungary)

Attendance: 6,600

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