Ally McCoist says Rangers won't take foot off the gas

RANGERS boss Ally McCoist today dismissed claims his side's massive lead at the top of SPFL League One had caused them to switch off.

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Lee McCulloch has been impressive for Ally McCoist's side this season
Lee McCulloch has been impressive for Ally McCoist's side this season

And he has promised a much-improved defensive display against Brechin City at Ibrox this afternoon than the one they produced last weekend.

The Light Blues fell behind twice in a thrilling match against Arbroath and were lucky to battle back and edge to a narrow 3-2 victory.

The goals the Gers conceded to David Banjo and Bobby Linn made for painful viewing for the manager and his players at Murray Park on Tuesday.

But McCoist is confident the comfortable cushion his team have over nearest rivals Dunfermline was not a factor in the below-par display.

The win over the Red Lichties sent his undefeated charges a staggering 23 points clear in the division - and within touching distance of the title.

The Rangers legend, though, is confident that complacency is not creeping into their play as they edge progressively closer to a second successive promotion.

"I really don't think it is," he said. "I think we just got caught cold losing the first goal in a minute and a half last week.

"Then I thought our defending at the second goal was decidedly ordinary. Defensively, there were one or two things we could have done differently last week.

"But I don't think it is anything other than you are going to get occasions where you lose goals and switch off. That is going to happen throughout the season. But again we have gone through it all and we realise we could have defended better in both instances.

"We defended were poorly, particularly at the second one. But we have gone through it in detail with the lads.

"However, we have to take positives from the game. We came back from behind twice and managed to win a game against a team that drew at Celtic Park last season. A lot of people forget that."

The Rangers rearguard's performance against Arbroath was certainly uncharacteristic; they have been highly impressive at the back throughout the 2013/14 campaign.

They have kept clean sheets in 15 of their 22 outings in the third tier this term. In total, they have managed 22 shut-outs in all competitions.

Rangers have also only conceded in one of their 11 outings on the road in the league this season, against Brechin at Glebe Park back in October.

In that remarkable match, Gers let in three goals in the first 35 minutes before staging a gritty second-half comeback to win 4-3.

As McCoist prepared to welcome the Angus club to Ibrox this afternoon, he looked back on that outing.

He admitted it had been a pivotal moment in the second stage of "The Journey" back to the top flight of Scottish football.

He recalled: "We lost three first-half goals. We were 2-0 down and 3-1 down. That was probably as poor as we have been defensively this season.

"But again the players showed great spirit to come back and win the game. That is not easy from the position they were in.

"In an ideal world, you don't get yourself in these situations. But they have certainly shown they are capable of coming back in matches."

McCoist added: "I think that game at Brechin helped set a tone in terms of the mentality of the squad.

"I'm loath to tempt fate as we still have a fair bit to go in the season, but that game showed me they certainly have the spirit and the attitude to go out and win games.

'I remember saying to the boys at half-time that I didn't want a good second-half performance or coming back in having done alright. I wanted us to win the game. And they did that.

'Of course we look at the negatives and try and eradicate them. But, looking at the positives, the comebacks have definitely shown they have something about them."

McCoist is rightly proud of how players like Cammy Bell, Lee McCulloch, Bilel Mohnsi and Lee Wallace have performed at the back in recent months.

But he accepts that, such is their total domincance in games at Ibrox, that they can get caught out on the counter-attack by their rivals.

And he will be looking for Rangers to be wary of their opponents hitting them on the break during the title run-in.

He said: "We have a very good record defensively and we are scoring a lot of goals as well.

"Maybe not as many as we did right at the start of the season, but we are still scoring.

'Generally speaking, we have been fine defensively in away matches.

"There is a bit of an argument that we are getting caught at home on the counter-attack with the some of the goals we have lost.

"I would go along with that. Teams are looking to do that at Ibrox so we have to be switched on defensively and that will again need to be the case against Brechin."

Football

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