Rangers boss more upset with performance than perfect season failing

ALLY McCOIST always insisted Rangers would be unable to keep their winning run going in SPFL League One until the end of the season.

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Gers trio Jon Daly Nicky Law and David Templeton look disconsolate after losing a late equaliser at Ibrox yesterday
Gers trio Jon Daly Nicky Law and David Templeton look disconsolate after losing a late equaliser at Ibrox yesterday

Drawing or losing a game away on a poor playing surface in bad weather was, McCoist repeatedly stated, inevitable. But at no stage during the 2013/14 campaign did he envisage his side would drop points at home in the manner they did against Stranraer.

And that is what made the 1-1 draw the league leaders slumped to in their Boxing Day fixture at Ibrox so painful for the manager. McCoist was not especially bothered that his team no longer had the chance to record a perfect season after the disappointing result.

And nor did the end of the record 20-game winning run that Rangers had been on - just two away from their all-time record - in all competitions upset him greatly.

No, he was more concerned with the poor quality of the performance his team produced in front of the 45,467 spectators who had braved the elements.

And he was, in particular, furious with the poor defending that allowed Jamie Longworth to net an injury-time equaliser for Stranraer's first-ever goal against Rangers.

"It was a really poor day for us," he said. "I am of the opinion that Stranraer more than deserved a point for their overall display.

"But from our point of view it just wasn't good enough. The players will all admit that themselves. We all deserve whatever criticism comes our way.

"I honestly couldn't give a monkey's about the record. I am only concerned with the level of performance we gave and it was extremely disappointing."

Nicky Law returned to the Rangers side for his first time since the 6-1 win over Forfar at the start of December after recovering from a groin strain.

His return saw young winger Fraser Aird, who played well in the matches against Arbroath, Falkirk, Forfar and Ayr, relegated to the substitutes' bench.

Having not played a competitive match in almost three weeks due to the postponement of the game against Stenhousemuir, this was a potentially awkward fixture for the home team.

Would they be rusty after such a lengthy lay-off and struggle against opposition third in the league table? Or would normal service be resumed and another win be recorded?

McCOIST felt the fact Rangers had not played a game since December 7, when they beat Ayr United 3-0 at home, showed in their play throughout the 90 minutes.

"We looked like a team that hadn't played in three weeks," he said. "We looked like a team that was needing a game. Well, we certainly got one against Stranraer. The irony isn't lost on me that we now have four games in 11 days. I am very hopeful that we can perform better against Dunfermline on Monday night."

The opening half-hour gave a taste of what was to come for Rangers. McCoist's players struggled to break down a resolute and well-organised visiting side.

They survived a couple of scares in that time too. But a well-worked attacking move on the half-hour mark suggested that better was ahead.

Lee Wallace, Nicky Clark and Lewis Macleod linked well to carve out a chance. Macleod charged into the box and struck a volley that was destined for the top corner. Stranraer keeper David Mitchell did well to palm over the crossbar for a corner.

No doubt buoyed by that ­passage, Rangers pressed upfield again and were awarded a penalty when referee Andrew Dallas ruled that Clark had been pulled down in the box.

No Rangers player appealed for the spot-kick and there was indignation from Stranraer about the decision. But the official did not hesitate. McCulloch stepped up and despatched the penalty brilliantly to take his tally in all competitions for the 2013/14 campaign to 12.

NOT a bad haul for a centre-half. But it was Stranraer who started the second half more brightly. Andrew Stirling, who was outstanding all afternoon, tried his luck from the outside of the penalty area and went close.

That McCoist made a double substitution before the hour told a story about his deep dissatisfaction with the fare that he was witnessing on the park.

He removed Clark and Arnold Peralta and brought on Andy Little and Aird respectively. Their arrival onto the field of play briefly energised a side that was being outplayed by their rivals.

Law unleashed a long-range shot at goal in the 64th minute of the game. His ambitious effort beat the outstretched Mitchell only to be denied by the bar.

But the runaway league leaders just could not, try as they might, kill off the challenge of the Stair Park club. Steven Bell and then David McKenna both tested Cammy Bell.

Rangers could have no complaints when Longworth popped up in injury-time to prod a Stirling cross home and level the match with what turned out to be the final kick of the ball.

Banners unfurled in the Broomloan Road Stand before kick-off paid tribute to the 66 fans who died on Stairway 13 in the Ibrox Disaster of 1971. They read: "Another year gone. The memory lives on."

It was a reminder that, even if your team suffers a bad result, football is utterly insignificant compared with the loss of human life.


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