They were forced into it by the match officials but Scotland finally felt pretty good in pink at Hampden last night as they transformed their World Cup qualification bid in the most dramatic fashion.

The Hampden mood was captured as ‘Twist and Shout’ blared out of the loud-speakers, accompanying the home support as they danced their way to the exits.

While there is a huge job to be done the knowledge that Gordon Strachan’s team goes into its final match with its destiny in its own hands represents a substantial achievement in itself.

It had looked as if the omens were against them as they were forced to wear the pink change strips for which many have expressed their distaste, their captain for the night Darren Fletcher among them.

However the critics may have to re-appraise their view after Scotland got the break they needed with Martin Skrtel’s late own goal.

It was a cruel end to a night of heroics from visiting goal-keeper Martin Dubravka, but few in Hampden cared.

Admittedly the days of the SFA having to restrict ticket sales to 100,000 for a clash with the Slovaks and their then compadres from what is now the Czech Republic for a vital World Cup qualifier as was the case on the fabled autumn night in 1973 when Joe Jordan headed Scotland to the first of five successive appearances in the finals are long gone.

Fewer than half as many were in the rebuilt national stadium and there were more than a few empty seats this time around. The pre-match rendition of ‘Flower of Scotland’ was the drumming and chanting from the little section of Slovak supporters was far more audible in the early stages, the quietness of most of the rest probably attributable to nerves.

That changed eight minutes in with the first incident of any note as Kieran Tierney was pushed over by Robert Mak as he drove into the Slovakian penalty box.

It would have been a soft penalty since it was, but there was a substantial case to be made as the referee waved the claims away and the home support were in little doubt.

Whether or not they were right it seemed to release the tension and the extra man Gordon Strachan had been looking for was in the game.

They made their presence felt a second time with another mass cry for a penalty as Tomas Hubocan blocked a James Forrest cross and while there was a pantomime element to the protests the scale of it was just what the home team needed.

The perfect reward for their backing was denied them when Martin Dubravka pulled off a wonder save in the 19th minute to deny Christophe Berra as the Hearts man made a perfect connection with a Leigh Griffiths cross from the right only to suffer the shock of seeing his downward header palmed away.

In a week that has revived many memories of those 1973 qualifiers the Slovak goalie looked to be doing his best impression of Jan Tomaszewski, his fellow Eastern European who made a mockery of the great Brian Clough’s description of him as a clown by playing a major part in helping Poland break English hearts.

He was to pull off another quality save later in the half as Griffiths managed to work his way into a shooting position for the first time and curled a shot that looked to be headed for the inside of his right post, only for Dubravka to intervene brilliantly once again.

There was, though, jubilation among home supporters in between times as, midway through the opening half, Scotland were handed their man advantage when Mak, yellow carded earlier for a foul of

Hearts were initially in mouths as Craig Gordon slid towards the edge of his box in apparently seeking to beat the midfielder to the ball and he fell over.

It could have been argued that Mak simply anticipated the contact, went to ground, then slid back to his feet to regain possession, but with Serbian referee Milorad Mazic perfectly positioned, there was no benefit of the doubt for him as there had been when he challenged Tierney and to his horror a second yellow brought the inevitable red.

It was a decision that brought Jan Kozak, the Slovakian manager, down from the stands and Gordon Strachan to pitch-side as both men looked to re-organise their teams to suit a situation that now hugely favoured Scotland.

Briefly the Slovaks looked shaken and there was a sense of desperation

This was still a vital World Cup qualifier at Hampden, however, so there was no chance of that simply paving the way for an easy home victory and, if anything, once they recovered their composure, it was the visitors who lifted their game towards half-time.

There was, of course, no lack of energy from the home side as a surprisingly open match rattled along while, for by no means the first time in his long Scotland career, their captain gave blood for the cause, Fletcher having to have his head wrapped Rab C Nesbitt style.

There had been a shortage of creativity to go with the effort, but when Chris Martin, by no means a unanimously popular choice of substitute, battered the bar with a superb long range strike there was a hint of the old Hampden roar and Scotland surged again.

Griffiths rattled the bar from a free kick and that man Dubravka was in the way after Martin crafted a chance for James Morrison eight yards out and yet again as Andy Robertson closed in on him from the left.

A sense of resignation was descending upon Hampden and then everything changed as Strachan’s substitutions came off and Itechi Anya fired in the ball that was finally diverted past Dubravka as Chris Martin forced Skrtel into that decisive blunder.

Against all the odds Scotland’s World Cup bid was in the pink with the Hampden hordes celebrating as in days of yore.