Steve Clarke reveals whether Lyndon Dykes will take Scotland’s next penalty after Israel miss
The Queens Park Rangers striker saw his first-half effort against Israel saved by former Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano on Saturday night.
Dykes recovered from the setback to score Scotland’s second equaliser in the epic 3-2 win. However, Clarke isn’t willing to allow the striker to redeem himself from the spot anytime soon.
Scotland have now been awarded penalties in successive matches. Dykes had fortune on his side when his effort slipped under the Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann in the 1-0 win in Vienna last month.
The striker unwisely chose the same tactic of hitting the ball straight down the middle against Israel but saw the diving Marciano block it with a trailing foot.
Scotland went in at the break 2-1 down but strengthened their position in second place in Group F with two second-half goals, the winner coming in the fourth minute of injury-time from Scott McTominay. Dykes, meanwhile, became the first Scotland striker to score in three successive matches since Mo Johnston against Cypus, France and Cyprus again in 1989.
But this hasn’t convinced Clarke to risk Dykes missing another penalty as the stakes get ever higher for Scotland.
They can secure a World Cup play-off place by beating the Faroe Isles tomorrow night and then winning next month’s clash in Moldova.
“I’ve already told Dykes that he’s not on the next one,” said Clarke. “We’ll decide depending on the starting line-up. We decide from there. It just puts extra pressure on Dykes if he goes to the next one.
“No doubt tomorrow, when he’s calmed down a little bit and I’ve calmed down a little bit, he’ll come and ask me to take the next one!”
Clarke has nevertheless saluted Dykes’ contribution. Without his winning goal against Moldova and decisive penalty against Austria last month Scotland would already be out of the equation when it comes to securing second spot.
Dykes shrugged off the miss against Israel to volley home from close range with a studs-up volley ten minutes after half-time and survived the subsequent VAR review. His yellow card for dangerous play was also rescinded.
Clarke reserved special praise for the player he persuaded to switch nationality from Australia to Scotland last year.
“I just said I never doubted you,” Clarke revealed when asked what he had said to the striker afterwards. “I don’t doubt him because he’s got character, but they’ve all got character.”
Clarke ordered his players to dig Dykes out of a hole at half-time. “Last month he was the hero, he scored the penalty,” he said. “I said to the lads at half-time just make sure you bail Dykesy out. Last month he was the hero, this month he’s missed a penalty.”
Clarke saluted his side’s ability to bounce back from a series of first-half disappointments, including the loss of two goals – the first after just five minutes.
“It would have been an easy night to say: ‘Everything’s gone against us,’” he said. “But we turned it round, or the players turned it round. We had a good performance in the second half. Jack (Hendry) gets the touch, Scott puts it in with whatever part of his body I’m not quite sure.
“It wasn’t his hand or his arms so it counts. It doesn’t matter how you put them in, so long as you do.”
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