sport

Hopes dashed for Scotland U21s

Scotland suffered last gasp-heartache as Slovakia produced a final fatal blow to their hopes of reaching the UEFA Under-21 Championships by claiming a 1-1 draw in Senec.

Billy Stark's youngsters had taken a shock lead midway through the second-half at the Slovakian National Training Centre with Ryan Fraser's 67th-minute goal.

But Ondrej Duda beat Jordan Archer with just 30 seconds left of normal time to deny the Scots the win which would have kept their faint qualification hopes alive.

Slovakia had dominated the match but were stunned when a swift counter attack saw Rangers midfielder Lewis Macleod put Fraser in behind their defence.

The former Aberdeen forward kept his head as he rounded goalkeeper Dobrivoj Rusov before sliding the ball into the net.

With three games to play, Scotland remain slumped second from bottom in Group Three with no chance of reaching next year's finals in the Czech Republic.

Stark handed new Sporting Lisbon signing Ryan Gauld his first call-up since his 3million move to Portugal.

But it was Macleod who produced the young Scots first attempt on goal after four minutes with a 20-yard strike but Slovakian goalkeeper Dobrivoj Rusov collected comfortably.

New Sheffield Wednesday frontman Stevie May was then disappointed to see a penalty claim turned down after he was tripped in the box by Dionatan Teixeira.

Jordan Archer then had to produce a diving save to keep out Patrik Hrosovsky.

St Mirren youngster John McGinn had felled Adam Zrelak outside the box but Viktoria Plzen midfielder Hrosovsky could not beat the visitor's goalkeeper.

Gauld's first effort on goal was deflected wide after Fraser had darted half the length of the pitch to tee up the former Dundee United playmaker.

But the Scots were soon hit with a blow when Aberdeen defender Clark Robertson - playing just his second game since October following knee surgery - limped off again to be replaced by Stephen Hendrie.

Duda had Archer scrambling again just after the half-hour mark with a curling effort but the Tottenham keeper came up with another important save.

The officiating team were next to be forced into a change as fourth official Sergii Lysenchuk replaced injured Ukrainian referee Antonlii Zhanchenko 10 minutes before the break.

But Scotland continued to live dangerously as Slovakia were allowed space to threaten.

Right-back Branislav Ninaj went unmarked at a corner but could not beat Archer with his header.

Shortly after the break, the hosts missed another pair of decent efforts when Zrelak and Ivan Schranz both fired wide.

Hrosovsky then curled high and wide of the target on 63 minutes but Slovakia would soon regret their sloppiness in front of goal as Fraser rounded Rusov before knocking in the opener.

The Scots were given another scare though straight from the restart when Zrelak passed up his latest chance as he fired just wide.

Archer then did brilliantly to halt Duda's effort before Richard Lasik fired over from the rebound.

May was close to extending the Dark Blues' lead nine minutes from time when he stung the hands of the Slovakian goalkeeper with a low shot, while the loose ball spun just clear of the on-rushing Gauld.

But Slovakia finally found the net when Duda fired his late equaliser into the corner of the net to rob Scotland of their victory.