Scott Bain’s international career went from sky high to a deep low in a matter of hours.
He was named as Scotland’s number one for the trip to Kazakhstan last Thursday. This came after Allan McGregor’s retirement left the spot open to be claimed.
Yet, just hours after being confirmed, Bain was walking off the Astana pitch having conceded three goals and on the end of perhaps Scotland’s most embarrassing defeat of all-time.
When you say it like that, it sounds as though Bain didn’t take his chance. And whilst he certainly didn’t pull up any trees, he didn’t blow the game either.
The truth is that the Celtic man had to deal with a thrown together back four that had never played together. The two wing-backs, Graeme Shinnie and Liam Palmer, both played competitively for the first time. Scott McKenna and David Bates, meanwhile, are still mainly untested at international level.
Shinnie left Bain far too exposed for the first two goals. You can hardly blame the Celtic goalkeeper from being taken by surprise by his defence’s lack of basic positioning and levels of awareness.
Then, for the Kazakhs’ third, Scott McKenna was far too easily outmuscled in the air. The head from Bakitor Zaynutdinov was perfectly placed in the far corner. Bain couldn’t have done anything about it.
In fact, the Celtic goalkeeper did pull of a good stop when Kuat powered a dipping effort in on goal. If it wasn’t for his reactions there, Scotland could’ve been further behind come full-time.
Finger-pointing shouldn’t be towards Bain
It’s so easy to point the finger of blame towards Scotland’s new number one. But it’s important to remember that McGregor let in four goals to Israel in two games against them before hanging up his gloves. It’s hardly an easy task these international fixtures.
Bain has also been on a terrific run since the winter break. He’s shipped just two goals in 13 domestic games since his emergence as Celtic’s new number one. In addition to that, he made a series of top saves at the Mestalla against Valencia to keep Celtic in their Europa League tie.
All of these Celtic performances have come with a regular and reliable defence ahead of him. He can play with confidence knowing that Celtic can do the basics at the back.
The same can’t be said for Scotland, who need to sort out their defensive issues. That’s why it was good to see Alex McLeish stick with Bain for San Marino.
The Celtic goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make yesterday, but hopefully it was confirmation that McLeish still views him as Scotland’s number one. Hanging him out to dry after the Kazakh loss would’ve been criminal, especially when 10 others should be before him.
If Bain keeps up his fine Celtic form, he’ll surely be a shoe in for the matches against Cyprus and Belgium in June. As it stands, he deserves it.