Lee baffled with Rangers' poor rearguard performances at Ibrox

LEE McCULLOCH has admitted Rangers must perform better at the back in order to land the SPFL League One title against Airdrie tonight.

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Gers captain Lee McCulloch is all smiles during a training session at Murray Park yesterday
Gers captain Lee McCulloch is all smiles during a training session at Murray Park yesterday

And the Gers captain has vowed to do his utmost to improve their dire defensive displays at Ibrox and clinch the third-tier trophy.

Ally McCoist's side are 23 points clear at the top of the table and need just one more victory to secure a second successive promotion.

But the Light Blues have, despite being on the brink of league success, conceded seven goals in their last five outings at their own stadium.

And during that disappointing run on home turf they have slumped to draws against part-time opponents Stenhousemuir and Albion Rovers.

That latter result came in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final on Sunday when Rangers were fortunate to earn a draw and a replay.

McCulloch, who was responsible for the early goal that Rovers netted, confessed he is baffled at the rearguard's poor showings at home in recent weeks.

Because they are in stark contrast to their performances away from home in League One throughout the 2013/14 campaign.

Rangers have so far played 14 away games in the league this term - and have managed to keep clean sheets in no fewer than 13 of them.

The 4-3 win over Brechin City at Glebe Park way back on October 19 remains the only occasion that their backline has been breached in that time.

Many theories have been put forward as to why the Govan club excel on their travels and then struggle on their home patch.

These include an inability to break down teams that sit back and defend and a difficulty in performing when their own fans get on their back.

Whatever the reason for their troubles, the skipper has made improving their performances at Ibrox a priority.

Because Rangers still have much to play for once they finally complete Stage Two of "The Journey" back to the top flight.

Having won 25 and drawn two of the 27 league games they have played they hope to go the entire season undefeated.

And they are still, by the skin of their teeth, in the Scottish Cup. Elsewhere, they have the Ramsdens Cup final to look forward to next month.

McCulloch knows victory over Gary Bollan's much- improved team this evening is not a foregone conclusion if his side continue to give away goals so cheaply.

HE said: "We have got to concentrate on clean sheets at home and hopefully we can achieve that in the remaining weeks of the season.

"We have lost a fair few goals in our last few games at Ibrox and that has been deeply disappointing for us both as a defence and as a team.

"When you are playing at home you have to expect to dominate games and be difficult to break down and beat. That has not been the case in the last few weeks.

"When you compare our home record to our record away from home it is a strange one. There is no doubt about it that we have to do better in that department."

He added: "Our record away from home this season has been fantastic. We have won our last 17 games away from home and our clean sheet record is impressive as well.

"The only league game that we have let goals in away from home in the league this season was against Brechin. As I say, it is a fantastic record.

"I am not quite sure why we have not done so well at home. When you are a player at Rangers you have to learn how to deal with the crowd getting at you.

"We certainly have good enough players at the back to be able to keep clean sheets at home and that is what we will endeavour to do from now on."

McCULLOCH believes the Rangers rearguard should be able to repel their League One rivals given their ability and experience.

And he believes the fact they have played the majority of the season together has also helped them to improve as a unit.

He said: "I think both myself and big Bilel have played the majority of the season together and that definitely helps you develop an understanding.

"We also have Lee Wallace who has been brilliant outside us on the left. Richard Foster has come in and has done well at right-back too.

"He has played well for us since coming back into the team in recent weeks. And Seb Faure has also done well when he has featured.

"I think that organisation is the key to a successful defence and that has, by and large, been good this season compared to last season.

"We have also got players in front of us who are willing to take the ball, the likes of Ian Black, Nicky Law and David Templeton. That helps to take the pressure off us."

McCulloch continued: "Cammy Bell has been outstanding in goals for us and it is no surprise to me that he has been mentioned in connection with a Scotland call-up.

"He deserves it more than most. Some of the saves he has made for us this season have been just unbelievable. It would be amazing to see him getting called up."

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