sport

Stark plays down Scots job talk

Billy Stark brushed off the personal consequences of Scotland's performance after leading them to a 2-1 friendly win over Luxembourg.

An opportunist double from Jordan Rhodes had Scotland leading comfortably at half-time with the away fans in the Stade Josy Barthel hoping their team could go on to rack up a convincing win.

Such a victory would have prompted talk of caretaker manager Stark being in the running for the job on a more permanent basis, but Scotland endured some nervy moments in the second half after Lars Gerson pulled a goal back from a well-executed free-kick 90 seconds after the restart.

Scotland struggled to create chances after the break in an uninspiring display but Stark had little thought for himself after taking the team in the wake of Craig Levein's sacking.

"The bit about me and people talking about me, I can honestly and truly say it wasn't anywhere in my thoughts," the Scotland Under-21 manager said.

"It doesn't bother me. What would have bothered me is if we hadn't won the game.

"I'm experienced enough to know that you never sit back in a game and think, 'Oh ya beauty we are 2-0 up, everything is going great'.

"Football is not like that and I think the defining moment in the second half was them getting the goal from a dubious free-kick, but it's a really good free-kick.

"People will say you should still be able to handle that better and I would accept that, but I have been there before.

"And we were caught between it a wee bit, we had to make sure we weren't making ourselves too open, but at the same time I still think we had enough bodies in forward areas to try and create something. But they had so many bodies in there and made it difficult for us.

"The second half was a bit disappointing but I'm happy to get the result."

Stark started with Kenny Miller up front with Rhodes in a break with Levein's preference for a lone striker.

Levein's reign was undermined to an extent by his failed 4-6-0 formation in Prague and Stark's selection was bold with Steven Naismith and Andrew Shinnie in advanced roles out wide. But the formation almost looked like a 4-2-4 at times after the break, and Scotland found themselves open in midfield.

However, Stark claimed he had not felt under pressure to be more positive given public opinion. "I was mindful that people would look at the team selection, as they always do," he said. "But I just approached the game the way I would. I looked at the players we had and tried to put a team out to win the game.

"Ultimately we have got there. I was hoping to use everybody in terms of the subs, and the way the second half went it meant we were restricted in terms of that."

Stark did hand debuts to Liam Kelly, Leigh Griffiths and Murray Davidson off the bench with Charlie Mulgrew making way at the break after dominating midfield.

"Charlie Mulgrew was excellent for us in the first half," Stark said. "Him and Darren (Fletcher) had a real grip of things in there.

"I thought Kenny Miller was really excellent supporting Jordan. That explosive movement he has got was a big bonus for us in that area.

"In the second half we couldn't quite replicate that.

"The fans were there in numbers and they could have been forgiven for not turning up because it's been a bit depressing in terms of results, but I think the most important thing was to deliver a result for them first and foremost.

"But we would have liked to have played a lot better in the second half. But credit Luxembourg, they made a real game of it."