29 October 2012

Clyde 0 - 2 Rangers : Job Done

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

It wasn't vintage stuff. There was no champagne football. But Rangers emerged from Broadwood with three points and their first away league win of the season.
Our problems on the road have been well documented and the unexpected nature of our struggles has heightened the scrutiny and criticism of our results. The fact that we are now almost into November and only just recording our first victory away from Ibrox speaks volumes and it will have certainly caused McCoist more than a few concerns in recent weeks.
Ally decided to make a couple of changes to the team who managed to grind out a result against Queen's Park last weekend. Out went Aird and Faure, neither of whom had a particularly good game at Ibrox, and in came Little and Hegarty. Certainly the return of the attacker is most welcome given his goal scoring exploits prior to his unfortunate injury and he made a considerable impact from the bench last Saturday.
The game began in an all too similar fashion to what has gone before this season. We were slow out of the blocks and were lacking the tempo required to pin back our Third Division opponents. Our lethargic starts to matches is something which Ally should really look to address but I suppose that may be easier said than done. The players themselves have to take some responsibility.
The line-up didn't exactly fill me with much confidence either with McCulloch looking isolated up front as Shiels and Little stayed on the wings. This resulted in far too many long, hopefully balls being played forward and inevitably we surrendered possession on an uncomfortably regular basis. Surely we should be capable of passing the ball a bit better than we did? Apparently not.
Somewhat ironically the goal did come from one of our lengthy passes when big Lee knocked the ball down to Shiels with his header. The Northern Irish international then worked half a yard for himself before curling a majestic shot beyond the despairing dive of Barclay in the Clyde goal. It was a piece of magic and perhaps we were always going to need something like that to open the scoring as our play yielded few clear-cut chances.

We should really have kicked on from there however we continued to give the ball away needlessly and were sloppy in some of our defending. Truth be told, Clyde would have been disappointed not to take one of their chances before half-time and perhaps deserved to be level.
There didn't seem to be much of a reaction from the Rangers players after the break and in fact we had Neil Alexander to thank for denying Clyde an equaliser just moments after the restart. The game became somewhat bogged down in midfield and Ian Black in particular seemed to be a target for some rough treatment throughout the match. It’s frustrating that most referees have been willing to ignore such tactics for the majority of the campaign so far.
Clyde were eventually to pay for their indiscipline as Neill became needlessly involved in a tussle with Shiels which resulted in his second yellow card of the day. With the extra man Rangers managed to retain possession better than they had done previously but were still made to wait until late in the match before putting the game beyond doubt.
Ian Black somehow found himself bursting into the box and unselfishly squared the ball to Lee McCulloch to tap in from close range. This was his 14th goal of the season and equalled his highest goals tally in a single campaign. Not bad considering we're just going into November!

While the football wasn’t inspiring we can look back on a clean sheet, three points and our status as league leaders and find some positives in there. Undoubtedly there are issues which still need some attention but hopefully our first away win should remove the mental barrier that seems to have been a problem on our travels.

This midweek we welcome Inverness CT to Ibrox in the League Cup and I’m sure we are all hoping for a replication of the performance and result that we were given against Motherwell in the previous round. The game is certainly going to be difficult and the visitors have a pretty decent record against Rangers, even at Ibrox, and that of course was with the higher quality of players who have since walked out on the Club.

Hopefully I’ll be reporting on another enjoyable night at Ibrox later in the week.

Andy is the Deputy Editor of our half-decent blog. You can find him on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org