Scotland U21 0-0 Bulgaria U21

Scotland's Scott Allan (left) is persued by Plamen Donev
Allan was the stand-out player for Scotland in Paisley

Scotland opened their Uefa Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign with a frustrating draw at home to Bulgaria.

Dundee United's Scott Allan turned in an energetic and skilful first-half display but could not inspire a breakthrough at St Mirren Park.

Allan fizzed a long-range shot just wide and set up Jordan Rhodes, who was denied by a save from Plamen Iliev.

Scotland struggled to create chances after the interval with Grant Adam the busier goalkeeper.

Manager Billy Stark sprang something of a surprise by choosing Dundee United's Stuart Armstrong ahead of Rangers' Gregg Wylde on the left of midfield, while three Hibernian players - David Wotherspoon, Callum Booth and Paul Hanlon - were included in the back four.

The lively Allan showed some neat footwork before firing the ball narrowly wide of the top corner from 22 yards.

The midfielder then found United team-mate Johnny Russell with a curling ball to the far post but the Tannadice forward had to stretch and he scooped his effort beyond the post.

Allan created the best chance of the game on 40 minutes, making space with another superb piece of skill and threading the ball through for Rhodes, but the Huddersfield striker failed to get hold of his shot, allowing Iliev to parry.

Adam had little to do in the first half but he had an uncomfortable moment just after the restart when he fumbled Alexander Tonev's low cross at his near post.

Johnny Russell (right) holds off his opposite number Georgi Kostandinov
Scotland fell out of the game in the second half

The Rangers keeper soon made two good saves, blocking Stanislav Kostov's drive before getting down well to hold Georgi Milanov's 25-yard strike as Bulgaria looked to bounce back from losing their opening group game to Holland last week.

Adam then stopped a weak effort from Momchil Tsvetanov after his throw out put his team in trouble before holding a powerful free-kick from the substitute.

Russell slipped after a clever pass into the penalty box from Allan and then benefited from a slip in the visiting defence to run in on goal but Iliev got down to block his driven shot.

A tiring Allan was replaced by Peter Pawlett going into the final 15 minutes but a backward header from the Aberdeen man was held in the only late chance of note.

Scotland U21 manager Billy Stark: "What didn't surprise me was Bulgaria, having lost the game on Friday, you got the feeling they were determined to get something.

"That made for a difficult night for us, because they had enough quality to show they could hurt us on the counter-attack.

"That puts a big pressure on players, mentally it's a tough job when you're pushing and pushing and if you lose possession they can break quickly and you have to get back. There were some tired legs towards the end.

"What pleased me was we were resilient in some difficult defensive situations in the second half."

Scotland U21: Adam, Wotherspoon, Perry, Hanlon, Booth, Russell, Allan (Pawlett 75), Kelly, Armstrong (Palmer 61), Rhodes (Griffiths 61), Cairney. Subs Not Used: Ridgers, Cole, MacDonald, Wylde.

Booked: Perry.

Bulgaria U21: Iliev, Ilia Milanov, Terziev, Drenovichki, Georgi Kostadinov, Dimov, Tsvetkov, Georgi Milanov (Tomislav Kostadinov 82), Baldzhiyski, Tonev (Ayas 72), Kostov (Tsvetanov 53). Subs Not Used: Kunchev, Kolev, Pashov, Dechev.

Booked: Tonev, Georgi Kostadinov.

Att: 2,769

Ref: Kristo Tohver (Estonia)