IT SHOULD have been the ultimate double whammy inflicted by the Scots at Wembley.

A late equaliser would have forced the substitution of England’s most dangerous figure.

In his time in management, Stuart McCall has often talked about football’s fine lines – the narrow margins that decide a contest.

Scotland’s second game of Euro 96 summed that up in the split-second that David Seaman kept out Gary McAllister’s penalty.

Terry Venables was ready to make a change if Scotland had scored – Paul Gascoigne’s number was about to be held up.

But, of course, history – and the next minute or so – took a very different course.

Half-time had arrived with Scotland looking comfortable and the Wembley frustration was bubbling under the surface.

After failing to beat Switzerland on opening day, England were labouring again and the fans were getting twitchy at the goalless score line.

“They weren’t booing as such but you could hear a bit of a grumble,” said McCall, as he continues his recollections of the summer that football came home.

“England had set up with a midfield three of Ince, Gazza and Southgate who was sitting.

“Anderton and McManaman were wingbacks and Pearce, Adams and Gary Neville as the back three. Shearer and Sheringham were obviously up top.

“It was a strong side with captains right through the spine. But I don’t think they’d had a shot on target.”

Venables decided to shake things up for the resumption and a tactical switch caused a stir in the tunnel.

McCall added: “We were coming back out and suddenly there’s this shout, ‘three has gone off for 15’.

“We’re all trying to get info and find out what was happening but Jamie Redknapp had come on for Pearce.

“They had tweaked it a little bit. Southgate went into the back three and Redknapp went in there to get on the ball and play.

“McManaman also came off the line a bit to find little pockets and get a free run and the dynamic changed.

“I always thought that England had dominated the second half but it was only those first 15 minutes when they were on top.

“They started well, the crowd got behind them and we struggled to come to terms with the slight change in shape.”

England’s burst got its reward on 53 minutes as Neville’s ball to the far post was converted by the incoming Alan Shearer.

Andy Goram had also alertly kept out Teddy Sheringham’s free header before the Scots recovered their senses.

McCall remembers the “unbelievable” save from David Seaman to claw away a goal-bound effort from Gordon Durie.

The real drama unfolds with 12 minutes left. McCall cuts back to Durie and he is upended in the box by Tony Adams.

“Watching it again the other night, you can see the ball move as McAllister goes to kick it,” said McCall on the penalty that will always haunt Scotland.

“You remember all the Uri Geller stuff about ‘mind-bending’ but it definitely rolls off the spot before Gary strikes it.

“He hits it well but Seaman dives with his right hand and it comes off his left elbow and goes over!

“I would never blame anyone for missing a penalty but it’s one of those saves when it could have gone anywhere.”

McCall later discovered from the Scotland coaching staff that England were readying a substitution, Steve Stone for Gazza, who they felt was wilting in midfield.

But the penalty save re-energised the whole place; none more so than the magic man himself.

Venables opted to leave Gascoigne a bit longer – he only needed a minute before scoring his most iconic goal.

“We’d got the momentum back,” sighs McCall, the frustration still evident nearly a quarter of a century on. “Imagine that penalty going in – the crowd would have gone totally flat and mentally we’d have been thinking about going on to win it.

“It could have been a different game; who knows, maybe a different tournament?”

Gascoigne’s virtuoso strike immediately put paid to that argument.

McCall did not realise, until watching it again recently, that he had been interviewed after the game and stuck up for his Rangers pal.

“Gazza was getting hammered by the media after the dentist’s chair thing. Some of the press didn’t want him to play that day.

“When somebody gets that much vilification, I was pleased for him as a good friend. But it obviously wasn't nice for us at the time."