Current Affairs

We’re back

Following Rangers, we have many great days, but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that yesterday was one of the very best.

We didn’t merely beat Celtic, we dominated them and the manner in which we did so was delightful.

Some said we wouldn’t cope with a higher standard of opposition, we’d have to change our game to cope or that the “Barca-style tippy-tappy stuff” just simply wouldn’t work. In the end, it was they who were forced to adapt to cope with us.

All over the pitch, we won every single battle.  Holt and Halliday completely and utterly nullified what they had in midfield.

The centre-half pairing of Wilson and Kiernan, aided by Dom Ball, were also solid in what has recently been a soft-spot for the side.

36 year-old Kenny Miller was constantly threatening their weak defence with his intelligent movement and predatory-like nature, illustrated perfectly by his goal.

Man of the Match Barrie McKay also turned in a quite exceptional performance. With no sign of nerves the youngster perhaps provided our most dangerous attacking threat throughout the match.

Wallace and Tav were also giving them cause for concern with their trademark attacking runs, with no sign of the grave dangers we were promised had they been caught exposed.

Meanwhile, they were restricted to long-range efforts and had just 37% possession. The only time they looked even slightly dangerous was when they lumped corners into the box for their centre-halves.

We played against Celtic the same way we have done so against Queen of the South and Raith Rovers. The way in which that young and inexperienced squad, with incredible calmness and composure, went about their business was something to behold. They weren’t overawed nor did they deviate at all from the philosophy that has served them so well this season.

Each member of that squad will have gained valuable experience of the Old Firm game and, more importantly, what it takes to win one.

There was a moment yesterday when those who sought to destroy us had a very sudden and stark realisation that not only had they completely and utterly failed to destroy the Club they’ve wasted 4 years of their life obsessing over, but that we are now fighting back with a galvanised support all the more determined to see their team win on the pitch. They don’t know what to do.

We have the core of what could be a very successful football team in place, a Manager that plays a style of football that is not only pleasing on the eye but, as we’ve seen this past week, it’s also pretty good at yielding results. We also seem to have stability in the boardroom at long last.

Yesterday proved that the gap between us and them is not what the “experts” predicted it would be 4 years ago, that’ll be the same folk who claimed that Anthony Stokes would win Hibs the League.

As Martyn Waghorn said, we’re the biggest team in the Country. They know it, which is why there was such a vicious campaign to destroy us. They fear us, as they’ve always done, and now we’ve got promotion we’re going for 55.

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Current Affairs

A look at Rangers v Alloa

Rangers’ record v Alloa

P: 17 W: 11 D: 5 L: 1

GD: +41 F: 54 A: 13

Win %: 64.71%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 3.18, Conceded: 0.76

In the League (Home record) –

P: 7 (3) W: 4 (1) D: 3 (2) L: 0 (0)

GD: +9 (+2) F: 14 (5) A: 5 (3)

Win %: 57.14% (33.33%)

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.00 (1.67), Conceded: 0.71 (1.00)

Last Meeting

The last time that Alloa visited Ibrox was 17th March last year. Nicky Clark scored twice as Rangers were held to a 2-2 draw. The Gers actually failed to beat the Wasps on both occasions at Ibrox and won just 1 of their 4 meetings.

Rangers lined up that day – Cammy Bell, Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Darren McGregor, Marius Zaliukas (David Templeton, 63’), Nicky Law, Nicky Clark, Dean Shiels, Andy Murdoch, Tom Walsh and Kris Boyd (Jon Daly, 69’).

Memorable Meeting

The last time we faced Alloa, I wrote about the very first League meeting between the sides, on the opening fixture of the 1922/23 season. Up until last season, this was the only time that both teams had played in the same League Division. This week I will focus on the return match, played on December 23rd 1922, at the Recreation Ground.

Rangers had been going well in the League. Since their victory over the Wasps, the Gers had won 11 out of their next 17 matches, leaving them level on points with 2nd place Dundee, but with 2 games in hand. The Glasgow Cup had also been won with wins over Partick Thistle, Third Lanark and Clyde.

The Light Blues were coming into the match off the back of a 1-1 draw away at Ayr Utd, however Alloa were just 2 points off the bottom of the Table. The Ibrox men went in as heavy favourites and lined up:

Willie Robb; Thomas Reid, Billy McCandless; Alex Johnstone, Arthur Dixon, Tommy Muirhead; Sandy Archibald, Andy Cunningham, Geordie Henderson, Tommy Cairns and Alan Morton.

The Alloa team was – Nathaniel Bowie; Robert Orrock, Thomas McGregor; Bertie Dunn, Arthur McInally, Robert Wood; George Forrest, Michael Connaboy, James Hendrick, Craig and Alex Cochrane.

Referee: H.Humphrey (Greenock)

Attendance: 8,000

It was the Clackmannanshire side who had the better of the play in the opening stages and actually went into the half-time break on top. The visitors just hadn’t got started whilst Alloa, according to one newspaper, deserved to go into the 2nd half with a “substantial lead.” The home side’s wingers and half-backs had particularly impressed and with better finishers in the forward positions they might well have scored in the first period.

The 2nd half saw a better showing from the Light Blues. They steadily improved and eventually took the lead, perhaps controversially. Alan Morton collected the ball, in what some say was an offside position, dribbled past Orrock and tried a high sweeping lobbed effort at goal. It evaded the grasp of Goalie Bowie, who should have dealt with it better, and found the net.

A 2nd goal wasn’t far away. Andy Cunningham this time created the chance and Geordie Henderson beat the goalie to double Rangers’ lead.

That seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side and the Gers managed to see the game out to secure a 2-0 victory.

Defeats on the same day for Dundee and Celtic saw Rangers extend their lead at the top of the table to 2 points, with 2 games in hand.

The Ibrox Club did go on to be crowned Scottish Champions, finishing 5 points clear of 2nd placed Airdrie. It was Bill Struth’s 2nd Title as Rangers Boss.

Final Comments

Of course Sunday didn’t provide the result we all wanted but it would be silly to overreact. We’re still 5 points clear with a nice run of games coming up to get back to winning ways and regain that mentality and confidence.

There wasn’t much in the first half at Easter Road. The goal came from sloppy defending from Danny Wilson who ought to have handled that situation better. We also had 1 or 2 opportunities that very easily could have levelled the scores.

After the equaliser, we undoubtedly had a period of dominance. Quite a number of chances went begging and on another day we would’ve won that game. The 2nd Hibs goal is another preventable one. I’m sure Wes will be the first one to admit he should’ve done better with the crossed ball.

Jason Holt once again had a tremendous match. The change of shape did not work. Deploying Ball in that holding midfield role would’ve worked better, in my opinion.

Time to forget about Sunday and focus on the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see what the preferred central-defence pairing is. I think we’ll see Ball keep his place alongside Kiernan. As I’ve said before, its undoubtedly best option at this moment in time.

I’d like to see Zelalem come back into the side. He has looked off the pace since returning from International duty but hopefully will be back up to speed soon and once he is, he’ll be a big player once again.

Nathan Oduwa should return to the team, taking up his role on the wing with Waghorn moving back into the Centre. Waghorn certainly is dangerous coming in from the wide areas but we also need a focal point to the attack and quite simply Nicky Clark doesn’t do the job.

Current Affairs

A look at Hibs v Rangers

Preview for Hibs match on 25th July

Preview for Hibs match on 23rd August

Rangers’ record v Hibs –

P: 379 W: 216 D: 84 L: 79

GD: +325 F: 701 A: 376

Win %: 56.99%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 1.85, Conceded: 0.99

In the League (Away record) –

P: 282 (142) W: 169 (73) D: 63 (38) L: 50 (31)

GD: +277 (+72) F: 541 (220) A: 264 (148)

Win %: 59.93% (51.41%).

Average Goals Scored P/M: 1.92, (1.55), Conceded: 0.94 (1.04).

Last Meeting –

Rangers have, of course, beaten Hibs on both occasions the sides have met this season. James Tavernier’s stunning free-kick was enough to give the Gers a 1-0 win at Ibrox in the League, whilst the Light Blues thrashed the Edinburgh side 6-2 in the League Challenge Cup all the way back in July.

Memorable Meeting –

This week’s Memorable Meeting comes from November 1898. Much like Sunday, Rangers travelled to Easter Road with a perfect winning record in the League. With 10 wins out of 10, the Light Blues sat top of the League Table. Hibs were in 2nd, 1 point behind although they had played 2 games more. The trip to the Capital would certainly be a tough one. Many gave the Edinburgh side a very good chance, especially as Rangers were coming off the back of a 1-0 loss to Queen’s Park in the Final of the Glasgow Cup.

Hibs were also a very decent side at home. They had already beaten Celtic, and in-fact, the only team to take full points from Easter Road were neighbours Hearts.

Rangers were favourites to maintain their 100% winning run, although a close match was almost a certainty. Interest in the match was high and a special train had to be organised from Glasgow.

The teams lined up on 19/11/1898 –

Hibs: Patrick McColl, Nelson, Robert Glen, Bernard Breslin, Hamilton Handling, Alex Robertson, Thomas Gemmell, Andrew McGuigan, James Reid, Atherton, William Porter.

Rangers: Matthew Dickie, Nicol Smith, Davie Crawford, Neilly Gibson, Bobby Neil, Davy Mitchell, Johnny Campbell, John McPherson, RC Hamilton, Jim Miller, Alec Smith.

Referee: Jimmy Adams (Edinburgh)

Attendance: 10,000

It was the visitors with started brightest, with the Light Blues calling Goalkeeper McColl into action more than once but he was more than equal to the task.

The game became a bit more end-to-end, although Rangers did win a few corners and had a bit more of the chances but just couldn’t trouble the Goalie in the same way they had done earlier on in the match.

It was, however, Hibs who took the lead through Thomas Gemmell around the 15 minute mark.

Then, came the first moment of controversy. During a Hibernian attack, a Rangers defender handled the ball in the penalty area. Mr Adams did not award the kick, although there appears to be little doubt that the Ball struck the player’s hand. Monday’s Dundee Courier speculates that the Ref either missed the incident or deemed it accidental. Regardless, the home team benefited for Gemmell collected the ball and scored his 2nd of the game on the 22nd minute.

It was definitely the men from the Capital who were in the ascendency. They peppered the Rangers goal with shots, right up until half-time. Shortly before the whistle, on one Hibs attack, Rangers broke upfield and Jim Miller pulled a goal back. The home side were angered and felt that the Ref had played beyond the 45 minutes by the time the goal had gone in.

Just 2 minutes had been played of the 2nd period when Alec Smith levelled up the scores for Rangers.

From then it looked as though the Gers would go on to claim all the points, although after a period of Light Blue dominance, the home side broke up the Park and Gemmell completed his hat-trick to once more put the Hibees in-front.

Hibs’ Porter was then forced off the Field temporarily through injury but returned in time to see RC Hamilton slot the ball past his Goalkeeper to equalise for Rangers.

With just a few minutes remaining, it looked like the first dropped points for the Ibrox side would be lost at Hibs.

Johnny Campbell took the Ball and moved into the Hibs penalty area. He headed for the bye-line and was at the corner flag when Robertson tried to challenge him for the Ball. One newspaper said that he had his hands around his neck as he flung him to the floor. The Penalty was awarded, incensing the Hibs fans.

The Referee, Jimmy Adams, actually holds his own piece of Rangers history. He was a former Hearts player and during his time with Jambos became Rangers’ first ever goalscorer in the Scottish League when he put through his own goal on 16/8/1890.

The spot kick was converted by Bobby Neil on the 89th minute and it was enough to give the Gers a hard-fought 4-3 victory.

Ugly scenes followed the final whistle. Upon the match’s conclusion, many Hibs supporters charged the field and assaulted Adams before he could make it back to the Pavilion and he had to be escorted to safety.

Rangers meanwhile, continued as they started. It would eventually be the perfect League campaign as the Gers wrapped up the Title with an astonishing 18 victories out of 18 matches. The return fixture against Hibs was won comfortably 10-0 at Ibrox.

The Glasgow side were considered perhaps fortunate to maintain their record that day against Hibs, although there was very little doubt that the Penalty decision was the correct one.

Final Comments –

St Mirren on Sunday was most probably our worst performance of the season so far. Some had been talking prior to the match of Rangers’ “difficulty” in breaking sides down in recent weeks, although the concern for me was a team having a go at us and we struggled even more.

Perhaps it was surprise at St Mirren’s gameplan, but I thought we looked rattled within the first 20 minutes. Holt’s goal was maybe fortuitous (although it was a good finish), it certainly settled us down and we could have gone into half-time 2 or 3 up. We didn’t really come out for the 2nd half and St Mirren had a bit more of the ball than we’d have liked but still couldn’t create any clear-cut chances. Wes Foderingham was tremendous and dealt superbly with the few long-range shots he faced.

Hibs aren’t to be under-estimated. They’ve been putting together some solid, maybe unspectacular, wins recently. Oduwa’s return would be a welcome one. He’s capable of producing a moment of magic out of nothing and that can make all the difference in games like this.

Besides that, I think the team pretty much picks itself. Dominic Ball is certainly deserved of a start, in my opinion. The Spurs loanee has performed very well since having to step-up in place of the injured Danny Wilson. I think at this moment in time, most would agree that Kiernan and Ball has looked our most impressive and solid central defensive partnership.

Current Affairs

A look at St Mirren v Rangers

Preview for last meeting with St Mirren

Rangers’ record v St Mirren

 

P: 291 W: 198 D: 53 L: 40

GD: +452 F: 712 A: 260

Win %: 68.04%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 3.60, Conceded: 0.89

In the League (Away record):

P: 228 (114) W: 153 (67) D: 45 (25) L: 30 (22)

GD: +340 (+128) F: 546 (250) A: 206 (122)

Win %: 67.11% (58.77%)

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.39 (2.19), Conceded: 0.90 (1.07).

Last Meeting

Rangers kicked off their League fixtures in August with a 3-1 win over the Saints at Ibrox. 2 first half goals from Lee Wallace and 1 from substitute Dean Shiels secured a 3-1 win for the Gers with Agent Thompson blazing a penalty over the bar (as instructed).

The last time that Rangers travelled for a League fixture with St Mirren was on Christmas Eve 2011. Lee Wallace was also on target that day but the Light Blues wen down 2-1 with Lee McCulloch and Dorin Goian both seeing red cards.

Rangers lined up that day – Allan McGregor, Dorin Goian, Sasa Papac, Lee Wallace, Steven Whittaker, Carlos Bocanegra (Kyle Bartley, 77 mins), Lee McCulloch, Steve Davis, Gregg Wylde (Maurice Edu, 29 mins), Nikica Jelavic and Kyle Lafferty (Sone Aluko, 45 mins).

Memorable Meeting

Despite losses to Celtic and Hibs, Rangers were well on track to retaining their League title in 1900/01. In-fact, a draw with Third Lanark represented the only other dropped points from the first 17 League matches. Fixture 18, out of 20, saw the Light Blues travel to Love Street for a match with St Mirren on January 5th. In those days, the Scottish League would be finished by the end of January and the rest of the Scottish Football season comprised of the Scottish Cup and supplementary Leagues. (Rangers competed in the Inter-City League that season, although this would be short lived and replaced with the Glasgow League a few years later.)

The Saints, meanwhile, were in the bottom half of the Table although not exactly fighting relegation at this stage of the campaign. The Gers were coming off the back of a 2-1 home victory over Celtic in the traditional Ne’er day Derby. The Light Blues were enjoyed a 2 points lead over Celtic with just 3 matches to play. Celtic had just 1 so quite simply, a win at Love Street would crown Rangers Scottish Champions for the 3rd Successive season.

The teams that Saturday afternoon were –

St Mirren: John Patrick, John Cannon, Robert Bennie, Donald Greenlees, Walter Bruce, Michael McAvoy, David Lindsay, Ronald Orr, William Cowden, Walsh and Watson.

Rangers: Matthew Dickie, Nicol Smith, Davie Crawford, Neilly Gibson, James Stark, Jacky Robertson, John Graham, John McPherson, RC Hamilton, Finlay Speedie and RC Campbell.

Manager: William Wilton

Referee: Mr Phillips (Glasgow).

Attendance: 6,000

Unsurprisingly, it was a rampant Rangers that turned out that afternoon in Paisley. 2 RC Hamilton goals gave the Gers a 2-0 half-time lead.

The Centre-Forward completed his hat-trick in the 2nd half before Cowden pulled a goal back for the home side. The result was put beyond doubt when John McPherson scored to hand the Light Blues a 4-1 victory.

Interestingly, common opinion was that the Saints were unfortunate to lose by a 3-goal margin but what mattered most was that the Rangers had secured the League flag for the 4th time in their history and their 3rd consecutive, with 2 matches to spare.

The very next week Rangers went out in the 1st Round of the Scottish Cup to Celtic thanks to a Jock Drummond OG. Hibs were then thrashed 6-0 before the Ibrox men wrapped up their League fixtures with a 3-2 win over Morton.

Rangers were also to finish 3rd in the Inter-City League, behind winners Third Lanark and 2nd placed Hibs.

Final Comments

Not our best performance against Livingston but we still didn’t look like losing at any stage and that is the difference from last season.
After the way we started the season, it was always going to be the case that teams would sit in with 9 men behind the ball. It’ll be interesting to see if St Mirren play as defensively as Livi, Dumbarton etc., especially on their own patch. I reckon we’ll see them open up a wee bit more.
One positive from Tuesday was the performance of Nicky Law. If Zelelam isn’t ready to return to the side, it would seem likely to me that the Englishman will come in for

Shiels. Zelalem’s return can’t come sooner, to be honest.

The Saints have performed far worse than expected this season, especially at home, so there should be no reason why we shouldn’t be looking to win by a few goals on Sunday.

Of course, another possible change could see Nathan Oduwa rested. Quite simply, the winger was taken off on Tuesday for his own protection. That is a damning indictment of Scottish football. It’s little wonder we’re the only home nation not going to the Euro’s with stone-age tactics like that still commonplace.

Young Oduwa can count himself lucky he wasn’t left with a broken leg after only 12 seconds. Mark Burchill’s defence of the assault, using xenophobic comments, was quite staggering to say the least.

There’s an increasing attitude in Scottish Football today that things like this are acceptable if it happens to a Rangers player. Well done to the Club and the RST for speaking out on this.

Current Affairs

A look at Rangers v Queen of the South

Preview for last meeting with QOTS

Rangers’ record v Queen of the South –

P: 75 W: 58 D: 10 L: 7

GD: +141 F: 214 A: 73

Win %: 77.33%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.85, Conceded: 0.97

In the League (Home Record) –

P: 45 (22) W: 33 (18) D: 6 (2) L: 6 (2)

GD: +73 (+44) F: 117 (65) A: 44 (21)

Win %: 73.33% (81.82%)

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.60 (2.95), Conceded: 0.98 (0.95)

Last Meeting –

Rangers continued their impressive form at the start of the season with a 5-1 thumping of Queen of the South on 30/8/2015. Andy Halliday gave the Light Blues a lead before it was doubled in the 2nd half by a Martyn Waghorn penalty. Jason Holt and Barrie McKay scored to make it 4 and then Waghorn got his 2nd from the penalty spot. The Dumfries side capitalised on some slack defending to pull a goal back but the Ibrox men ran out 5-1 winners.

Rangers lined up – Wes Foderingham, James Tavernier, Rob Kiernan, Lee Wallace, Danny Wilson, Gedion Zelalem, Andy Halliday, Barrie McKay, Jason Holt, Kenny Miller and Martyn Waghorn.

Memorable Meeting –

The Memorable meeting that I’ve chosen for this piece comes from 27/4/1957. Rangers travelled to Palmerston Park knowing that a win would crown them Scottish Champions for the 30th time. In one of the most remarkable title races in history, Rangers produced one of the greatest comebacks in the Competition’s history.

Rangers exited the League Cup in the Sectional stage, and the Club’s first foray into Europe was ended at the first hurdle by Nice, although the Glasgow Cup was secured with wins over Clyde and Partick Thistle.

Their defence of the League flag got off to a stuttering start. Amazingly, by the time that Rangers were beaten 1-0 by Ayr Utd at Somerset Park, the Ibrox men were a full 9 points behind Hearts (albeit with 3 games in hand, although with their recent form, there were no guarentees). The Gers had actually beaten the men from the Capital 5-3 earlier in the season and then 4-0 in the Scottish Cup. 8 wins out of their next 10 games saw the Light Blues capitalise on some dropped points by the Jambos. An outstanding 6-4 win over Queen’s Park at Ibrox teed up this opportunity to clinch the Title. The Gers had actually overturned a 4-1 deficit against the Spiders in a remarkable match that had seen 7 goals by half-time.

A Win against the Doonhamers and it would be another League Championship won by the Gers. Their opponents were battling also, although at the other end of the Table in a bid to avoid relegation.

The teams that day were –

Queen of the South: Dick Morrow, Douglas Sharp, James Binning, Richard Whitehead, Alec Smith, Jim Greenock, Bobby Black, James McGill, James Paterson, Peter McMillan and Jacky Oakes.

Rangers: George Niven, Bobby Shearer, Eric Caldow, Ian McColl, George Young, Harold Davis, Alex Scott, Billy Simpson, Max Murray, Sammy Baird, Johnny Hubbard.

Referee: F.S Crossley (Motherwell).

Attendance: 14,500

Rangers came flying out the blocks and by the 5th minute had seen goalscoring opportunities wasted by Baird, Murray and Scott. Although, if it wasn’t for a spectacular save by Niven, the visitors would have been behind after an error by George Young was pounced upon by Paterson.

5 minutes later and Alex Scott went rushing into the Queen’s penalty box before being body-checked by McMillan. Penalty, Rangers. Up stepped the Penalty King Johnny Hubbard and he tucked it away into the right-hand post.

Almost immediately after the restart, the South African had another glorious opportunity. Some terrific play by Max Murray and Alex Scott set-up a chance for Hubbard but his shot was blocked by Defender Whitehead.

The Dumfries side weren’t out of the game, though. They had their own chance when McMillan skipped past Young to set it up for Paterson, on a plate, but he could only scoop it over the crossbar.

There was one more chance before the Half-Time break. A corner came in from Hubbard and Max Murray managed to nod it goal-wards. James Binning, however, was in the right place at the right time to head it clear.

The 2nd period started with another chance for the home side. McGill, this time, squandered the opportunity after a neat pass by Paterson.

Alex Scott then missed a glorious chance, after being clean-through on goal.

The 2nd wasn’t far away, though, as Max Murray headed home a Hubbard cross on 52 minutes.

After some nice play between Scott and Hubbard, Murray then missed an open goal! The forward did eventually get his 2nd as he latched onto Greenock’s poor back-pass to score Rangers’ 3rd on the 58th minute.

Those missed chances cost Queens and Rangers took their foot of the gas for the remainder of the match. When the final whistle went, confirming Rangers as Champions with a match to spare, there was very little celebrations as the result consigned the home side to 2nd Division Football next campaign.

Particular stand outs for Rangers were noted as Eric Caldow, Ian McColl and Sammy Baird.

The Championship was George Young’s 6th and final as a Ranger. The big Defender planned to hang up his boots at the end of the Season.

2 days later, a last minute goal from Billy Simpson handed Rangers a 4-3 win over Dunfermline at East End Park.

Rangers finished the season with 55 points, 2 clear of Hearts in 2nd.

Final Comments –

The International break has perhaps come at the right time, giving the squad a well-earned rest and a chance to come back re-invigorated for the 2nd Round of games.

Gedion Zelalem will still be absent and will be a big miss for the Light Blues. I thought we really missed his ability to link defence and attack against Falkirk and resulted in Danny Wilson playing the long-ball all too often.

I don’t see many changes from the side that beat Falkirk. Nathan Oduwa may be rested given he was active on International duty. I think it would be fair to say that he didn’t have his best game 2 weeks ago, although fans will need to expect that with a young winger comes inconsistency. There’ll be games that he sets alight and others where he does nothing.

Hopefully a re-energised Rangers will run out comfortable winners.

Current Affairs

A look at Morton v Rangers

Rangers’ record v Morton

P: 169 W: 120 D: 31 L: 18

GD: +266 F: 407 A: 141

Win %: 71.01%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.41, Conceded: 0.83

In the League (Away record) –

P: 122 (61) W: 86 (42) D: 22 (13) L: 14 (6)

GD: +185 (+79) F: 284 (132) A: 99 (53)

Win %: 70.49% (68.85%)

Last Meeting

The last time the 2 sides faced off was 19/2/2000 in the 4th Round of the Scottish Cup. Craig Moore scored the solitary goal for the Gers at Love Street. The last time that Rangers travelled to Cappielow on League business was 9/4/1988. Goals from Ian Durrant and Ian Ferguson weren’t enough to stop the Light Blues slipping to a 3-2 defeat.

The Gers lined up that day – Chris Woods, Scott Nisbet, Jan Bartram, Graham Roberts, Ray Wilkins, John Brown, Ian Ferguson, Jimmy Phillips, Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and Mark Walters.

Memorable Meeting

The memorable meeting for this fixture is perhaps a bit different from the others. It comes from October 1910.

Rangers had started the season reasonably well with 6 wins out of their first 9 League matches, with 1 draw. In this time, the Gers had also secured the Glasgow Cup with a convincing 3-1 victory over League Champions Celtic but were coming off of a 1-1 draw against Third Lanark. The Dundee Evening Telegraph for the day prior to the match talks of points being “promised” for Rangers against Morton.

Legend has it that before the game, a Greenock butcher offered a lamb for every goal his hometown team could score at Ibrox!

The teams that played that day (October 22nd 1910) –

Rangers: Herbert Lock; George Law and Andrew Richmond; Robert Brown, George Chapman and Joe Hendry; Billy Hogg, Jimmy Gordon, Willie Reid, Alex Bennett and Alec Smith.

Manager – William Wilton

Morton: John Bradford; James Jackson and John Fulton; John May, James Stark and Robert McKenzie; David Torrance, Hugh Bolton, Thomas Gracie, Charles O’Hagan and William Lindsay.

Referee: J.Penman

Attendance: 15,000

John May had moved from Ibrox to Cappielow that Summer whilst Jimmy Stark was also a former Ranger and had joined the Ton from Chelsea 3 years previously.

The Rangers team was of full-strength. The only change from the previous week was Ireland and Cliftonville forward James McAuley. Not too pleased at the criticism he received following his performance against Third Lanark, decided that he would rather play for Huddersfield Town.

The result? Rangers 1-5 Morton.

The first 20 minutes were keenly contested with the visitors having more of the play. Rangers weren’t without their chances though but were wasteful when they arose.

Then came the first goal for the Ton. Lindsay scored and shortly afterwards Gracie did too as the Rangers backline struggled to deal with the great forward play of their opponents.

Willie Reid got Rangers right back into the game but Gracie and O’Hagan struck to give Morton a 4-1 half-time lead.

The scoring was then complete when Lindsay netted his 2nd of the match after the half-time break.

Particular praise was due for the Morton Half-Backs, who played a tremendous game as did their adventurous full-backs.

Certainly for Rangers it was the defensive side of the game that came under scrutiny, although the full-back pairing were largely absolved of much of the blame. Particular criticism came for Half-Back Chapman who failed to keep a check on his man, Thomas Gracie.

The very same Paper that talked of promised points in the run-up to the game said “that the Glasgow Cup holders should fall to a team of the calibre of Greenock Morton by 4 goals is, to say the least, extraordinary.”

Final Comments

What did Tuesday night tell us about where we are at the moment? Probably not a lot, in all honesty.

We are a work in progress. 11 players were brought in and we’ve made a tremendous start to the season.

I think heavy criticism of Wilson and Kiernan is a bit harsh. They have to shoulder their part of the blame, particularly for the 3rd goal, although were left heavily exposed at times. Andy Halliday isn’t a holding midfield player and when he has an off night, like he did on Tuesday, we’re going to have problems.

All 3 goals were preventable. We had at least 2 opportunities to stop the ball going into the box for the first goal. The 2nd was an absolute disaster. How nobody noticed the Saints player hovering on the 18-yard box, yelling for the ball, I’ll never know.

These issues will be analysed and corrected in time.

Of course once we were 3-0 down, we had a mountain to climb and St Johnstone were happy enough to sit in and make it difficult.

I anticipate Jim Duffy’s Morton will set-up in a similar fashion to Dumbarton on Sunday, although whether they will be as well drilled and organised remains to be seen. The home side will be without Rangers loanee Luca Gasparotto who has impressed in his short time at the Club.

We should be able to break them down and put a few goals past them.

Current Affairs

A look at Rangers v St Johnstone

Rangers’ record v St Johnstone –

P: 137 W: 109 D: 14 L: 14

GD: +246 F: 357 A: 111

Win %: 79.56%

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.61, Conceded: 0.81

In the League Cup (Home record) –

P: 17 (8) W: 15 (6) D: 1 (1) L: 1 (1)

GD: +35 (+12) F: 50 (19) A: 15 (7)

Win %: 88.24% (75.00%)

Average Goals Scored P/M: 2.94 (2.38), Conceded: 0.88 (0.88)

Last Meeting –

Of course the last meeting between the 2 sides was last season at the Quarter-Final stage of the League Cup, at Ibrox. Lewis Macleod’s 86th minute header was enough to hand Rangers a 1-0 victory a set-up a Hampden Semi-Final with Celtic. The 2 sides lined up that night (October 28th 2014):

Rangers – Steve Simonsen (Lee Robinson, 54), Ricky Foster, Lee Wallace, Darren McGregor, Ian Black, Lee McCulloch, Lewis Macleod, Nicky Law, Fraser Aird (Stevie Smith, 90), Kris Boyd(Jon Daly, 74) and Kenny Miller.

Manager – Ally McCoist

St Johnstone – Alan Mannus, David Mackay, Simon Lappin (Liam Caddis, 75), Frazer Wright, Steven Anderson, Chris Millar, Brian Graham, Murray Davidson (Gary McDonald, 23), Lee Croft (James McFadden, 90), Brian Easton and Michael O’Halloran.

Manager – Tommy Wright

Referee – Stuart McLean

Attendance – 13,023.

Memorable Meeting –

The every first clash between the 2 sides in the League Cup was in the Semi-Final on Wednesday 11th October 1961. The Gers went in as heavy favourites although Saints Manager and former Rangers Goalkeeper Bobby Brown took comfort in the fact that the Perth side hadn’t lost at Celtic Park, the neutral venue for the Tie, since they had returned the 1st Division 2 years previously. The Ibrox side had come through Section 3 which included Third Lanark, Airdrie and Dundee. East Fife were then disposed of over 2 legs as Rangers progressed into the Semi-Final.

St Johnstone achieved qualification from Section 9, finishing above Celtic, Hibs and Partick Thistle before defeating Motherwell in the Quarter-Final.

One concern for Rangers, even at this relatively early stage of the season, was fatigue. Eric Caldow, Alex Scott and Davie Wilson were at times playing 2 and 3 games a week whilst Jim Baxter was released from the Army for the match with St Johnstone. Harold Davis was also an injury concern, after “straining himself” in training a few days before the match.

Many assumed Saints game plan to be fairly obvious, defend for an hour or so and then try and hit on the break when tiredness sets in. The Evening Times for 10th October notes “Gardiner and McVittie (St Johnstone forwards) are the men famous for the last 15-minute burst.” The Saints also had in their forward line, former Ranger Jimmy Walker, who made 2 appearances for the Gers in 1956 before leaving for Clydebank as well as a certain Alex Ferguson.

The teams that evening –

Rangers – Billy Ritchie, Bobby Shearer, Eric Caldow, Billy Stevenson, Bill Paterson, Jim Baxter, Alex Scott, Ian McMillan, Jimmy Millar, Ralph Brand and Davie Wilson.

Manager – Scot Symon

St Johnstone – William Taylor, Charlie McFadyen, James Lachlan, Jim Little, Alex Ferguson, Ron McKinven, Matthew McVittie, Jim Walker, James Gardiner, John Bell and Joe Henderson.

Attendance – 41,000

Rangers started wearily. It looked as though the tough run of fixtures had taken its toll whilst Saints forwards Gardiner, Bell and Walker “had Patterson and Shearer in 57 varieties of difficulty.”

The Gers couldn’t have many complaints when the Perth side went ahead through Gardiner on 31 minutes. Things went from bad to worse when Bell doubles the lead, just before the half-time break.

Not only was the Defence in trouble but the forwards had failed to create any real opportunities at the other end. Whatever Symon said at half-time had the desired effect as Davie Wilson went straight out and pulled a goal back within a minute of the restart.

Alex Scott was the brightest spark for Rangers, stunning the Light Blues into life in the 2nd half. The Gers put in a much better showing but still couldn’t find the equaliser. Eric Caldow scored from the penalty spot, 12 minutes from the end to take the match to Extra-Time.

The Tie was eventually won, when Davie Wilson headed home in the 13th minute of hand the Light Blues a 3-2 victory.

Hearts defeated Stirling Albion in the other Semi to set-up a Hampden Final, 2 and half weeks later with the Gers.

The League Cup did head to Ibrox but only after a Replay. The Light Blues triumphed 3-1 after a 1-1 draw.

Final Comments –

A below-par performance on Saturday, in my opinion. Dumbarton sat in, and made it difficult, although never looked likely to take anything from the game. I thought, Rangers struggled to break them down and find a way through, which is where I believe that we missed Jason Holt’s forward runs.

At times, I felt we were guilty of trying to pass the ball into the net. Waghorn of course scored from distance, and Tavernier, twice including his free-kick, and Halliday both went close too.

St Johnstone will be a completely different proposition. They will feel they can win the game, and being a cup tie they will have to come out and have a go at some point, where we will look to pick them off.

Tuesday should be a much more open game and one that I think we should win. Hopefully Holt is fit again and of course Oduwa will surely come back into the team in place of Kenny Miller.