JOHN McGinn revealed last night he feared that his first ever hat-trick would be wiped from the record books due to a waterlogged Hampden pitch. The treble which the Aston Villa midfielder scored against San Marino yesterday – the first opening period hat-trick for Scotland’s men’s side since Lawrie Reilly in 1952 - mean he has now bagged four goals in four games for his country.

But with incessant rain falling on Mount Florida, it all had echoes of a 2013 league match which he played in for St Mirren against Ross County, where the Paisley side’s two-goal lead was expunged from the record with the match abandoned midway through the second half and the two teams were forced to replay the match in its entirety.

While Uefa now have a contingency whereby any remaining minutes would simply have been played the following day, ironically at his old stomping ground of the Simple Digital Arena, McGinn still cut a relieved figure when he left Hamden clutching his first ever match ball.


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“There were flashbacks to St Mirren against Ross County when we were 2-0 up and that got called off,” said McGinn. “But common sense prevailed in the end. It meant I wasn’t getting my goals chalked off!

“The ball was sticking a bit,” he added “I wouldn’t say it was dangerous but it was getting tough. But the referee never said anything. He didn’t even flinch which was a good thing for us. Going back to St Mirren might have appealed to me at the start of the game but not by the end.”

TV replays proved inconclusive, but McGinn insisted it was he, and not Ryan Christie, who got the final touch on the opener. “I got a nick on the first one,” he said. “I saw Ryan putting the ball across and I got a wee touch on it. My conscience is clear because I’m saying it was going wide! The goalscoring is something I have been working on because I used to be more of a defensive player. Credit to the staff at Aston Villa right now, I am working tirelessly on making runs into the box and making myself more useful up the park. It seems to be paying off right now so hopefully I can carry it on.

"I’ve never scored a hat-trick before because I used to be a left back so I never used to get forward. The match ball is in my bag. I might never get another one so I’m definitely going to keep this one and treasure it."

McGinn admitted the fall-out from Moscow has been tough. “It wasn’t good enough in Moscow so it was important to try and right that wrong," he said. "It might not have done that quite yet, but it’s done a little bit to help.”


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Another man delighted that his goals have made it safely into the record books was Lawrence Shankland, who was in the right place at the right time when a Scott McTominay strike came back off the bar to mark his first start with a goal. While he swapped his jersey with an opponent, it was only after he remembered that the rain was so bad that the whole squad had put on fresh jerseys at half time. “It wasn’t great and the ball was stopping," he said. "I was thinking: ‘surely not’."

The Dundee United striker reflected last night on what has been one of the best weeks of his life, a period which he will round off in some style back in the Championship against Queen of the South at Palmerston Park. He said he knew he would have been branded a failure if he hadn’t scored against the minnows and was desperate to make sure he is involved in the next double header against Cyprus and Kazakhstan.

“If I didn’t score tonight people would have been saying: ‘he’s no good’. It wasn’t the prettiest goal I’ve ever scored but I’ll take it. I want to be involved in every squad going now. I’m not getting carried away though. I’ll go back to my club and keep doing what I can and hopefully keep up the form that got me in this squad. It’s Queen of the South on Saturday down the road on their astro pitch. It might not be the most glamorous of fixtures but I’ll be approaching it professionally and trying to help my team get a win.”