Scotland 1-1 Canada: Gordon Strachan's men held to draw in friendly
By Charlotte Marsh
Last Updated: 23/03/17 7:16am
Scotland were held to a 1-1 draw by Canada during an international friendly on Wednesday ahead of their World Cup Qualifier with Slovenia.
Gordon Strachan's side went behind in the 11th minute as Fraser Aird put the visitors ahead, with Steven Naismith bundling home to level the match with ten minutes of the first half to play.
It did put an end to a run of two defeats without scoring as they prepare for their vital World Cup qualifier with Slovenia on Sunday at Hampden Park.
Fulham midfield Tom Cairney was handed his debut by Strachan for the Easter Road contest, while captain Darren Fletcher went third in the list of all-time appearances for Scotland by winning his 78th cap.
Canada took the lead early on, and the impressive Aird was the man to take advantage of some poor clearing from Lee Wallace and Charlie Mulgrew to power home from just inside the box and register his first international goal.
Almost immediately after the restart and Scotland could have been level as Robert Snodgrass powered a shot towards goal from just outside the box but it could only meet the upright before Canada goalkeeper Simon Thomas smothered a shot from Chris Martin at the near post in the 25th minute.
Not long after and Canada could have made it two as Aird danced his way into the box with defenders standing off but his shot just fizzed wide of the post. Simeon Jackson fired an effort over the crossbar with a helping hand from Allan McGregor moments later.
Scotland got themselves level on the 35 minute mark with Thomas once again called into a fine save, pushing away a Wallace cross from the left-hand side. The rebound fell into the path of Cairney who had his effort blocked before Naismith poked the loose ball home to the delight of the Easter Road crowd.
Canada could have gone into the break in front as Aird and Scott Arfield linked up across the top of the box before the Burnley man found Marco Bustos to his right, who just pulled his effort past the post.
Both sides made changes at the break, with Andrew Robertson and Barry Bannan coming on for Scotland while Shrewsbury goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler replaced Thomas in goal for Canada.
Aird continued where he left off in the first half, making a brilliant run from the halfway line into the box eight minutes after the restart, finding Jackson to his right but the Walsall forward could not get his shot on target.
Nine minutes later and Bannan went close to putting Scotland ahead, bursting towards the box before taking aim with his shot pushed away by Leutwiler but he could only fire the rebound over the crossbar much to his irritation.
Chances were mostly at a premium for the remainder of the game, although Aird had another fantastic chance for Canada in the 79th minute as he collected a cut-back from Nik Ledgerwood before curling towards McGregor, who made a fine leaping save to deny the Falkirk man a second goal.
Griffiths and Rhodes both went close to winning it for Scotland in the closing minutes and both fed each other for the chances. The first saw the Celtic striker hit an overhead kick over the bar from a Rhodes cross before the Sheffield Wednesday forward just poked the ball wide of the near post after a Griffiths cross in the final minute of three added on.
There were boos from the Easter Road crowd as the referee blew his full time whistle, with plenty for Strachan to think about heading into Sunday's clash with Slovenia live on Sky Sports.