"We have a big, big team spirit so we got through," said East, West and Central Scotland coach Richard Wilson after his side made it past a tight preliminary round group.
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East, West and Central Scotland made it through to the UEFA Regions' Cup intermediate round by the narrowest of margins as qualifying Group B was decided in a three-way tie in Slovenia.
The Scottish side took just one point from their opening two games, drawing 0-0 with San Marino and then losing 2-1 to Greece's Evia Region, but after starting the final day in fourth place scraped through with a 3-1 win against host team MNZ Murska Sobota at the ŠRV Bakovci Stadium. EWC Scotland recovered from shipping an early Damir Čontala goal as Alan Inglis scored a 13th-minute penalty, and James Bradley and Kevin Fotheringham added further strikes.
Nonetheless, they had a nervous wait at the end of the match to see whether they would join sides from Germany, Slovakia and England in intermediate round Group 2. San Marino looked set to win the section as they led Evia 1-0 in Radenci, but substitute Dimitris Vezirtzoglou responded in the last minute to earn the Greek team a point, condemning Fabrizio Constantini's men to a third successive Group B draw – and handing the qualifying spot to Scotland in a three-way goal difference head-to-head tie-break with Murska Sobota and Evia, Fotheringham's effort proving decisive.
"First of all I have to congratulate all the organisers as this was a really great tournament," said EWC Scotland coach Richard Wilson. "It was a very dramatic finish. I'm proud of these players. We played with great spirit. Even when we were losing and the Slovenian team had an excellent goalkeeper, we fought hard and now we can celebrate. The whole tournament was difficult – the heat was sometimes really hard. But we have a big, big team spirit so we got through to the next round."
On the opening day Murska Sobota beat Evia 2-1 and were only denied early qualification by a 1-1 draw with San Marino, who had led that game but conceded when Marco Muraccini was dismissed and Čontala converted a penalty. San Marino then topped the group when in front against Evia only to fall to fourth, a point behind the other teams, after the equaliser.
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