Rangers win comes at a cost

ANOTHER game, another three points and another step closer to an unbeaten League One campaign.

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Nicky Clark celebrates after scoring Rangers' winning goal in their 2-1 victory against Brechin City yesterday
Nicky Clark celebrates after scoring Rangers' winning goal in their 2-1 victory against Brechin City yesterday

Rangers completed a familiar hat-trick at Glebe Park yesterday but this time it may have come at a cost and have a significant impact on their Treble dreams.

Ally McCoist's side extended their remarkable run with a 2-1 victory in Angus as goals from Fraser Aird and Nicky Clark clinched the win but it was injuries to Nicky Law and Ian Black that could overshadow a hard-fought triumph.

The midfield pair have been almost ever-presents for the champions this term but neither completed the 90 minutes here, Law lasting less than half an hour before picking up a back injury and Black being stretchered from the field midway through the second half.

With the Ramsdens Cup final against Raith Rovers coming up in a fortnight and the hotly anticipated Scottish Cup clash with Dundee United just a week later, McCoist will be hoping that his midfield stars are not added to an injury list that already contains David Templeton, Andy Little and Lewis Macleod.

The wellbeing of those key men will be top of his thoughts in the coming days but it was the action on the field he was concerned with yesterday, his side battling their way to another three points to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Rangers remain on course to complete the third tier campaign unbeaten but one record came to a halt at Glebe Park as Ray McKinnon's men did what no other team has done for months and score against the champions when they have come to town.

Brechin's Alan Trouten was the last man to score against Rangers on their travels in League One when McCoist's side left it late to claim all three points on their last trip to Angus.

The midfielder's strike wasn't enough to see off the Light Blues that day as they fought back to emerge 4-3 winners and Trouten was involved in the incident that could have seen City take the lead after 21 minutes.

A slack pass from Richard Foster allowed him to nick in and advance in on Light Blues keeper Cammy Bell but when he went to ground his appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears, a yellow card for diving the controversial decision of referee Andrew Dallas.

It was a call that infuriated the home support and boss McKinnon, with Bell perhaps fortunate not to concede a spot-kick and Trouten certainly unlucky to be punished for simulation.

Brechin were certainly aggrieved at Dallas' decision and their frustration was compounded less than a minute later as Rangers took the lead through Aird.

McKinnon had lost defender Paul McLean to injury early in the half and it was Jonny Brown, who would also leave the field before the end of the half due to injury, who was at fault just minutes after he had switched to the right side of the City defence.

IAN BLACK'S long ball should have been dealt with fairly easily but when Brown failed to clear his lines, Aird pounced to put McCoist's side in the driving seat, the Canadian kid finishing well before spinning away to celebrate.

It was a lead Rangers were relieved to have but hardly merited as they once again struggled to make their superiority show in a combative affair in the Glebe Park sunshine.

The champions lost one of their most creative talents, Law, midway through the first half through injury, with replacement Sebastien Faure adding steel rather than an eye for a pass in the middle of the park alongside Black.

The goal capped a decent first half from Aird on the left flank while youngster Calum Gallagher put in a shift on his second successive start for the Light Blues but there was little to shout about from top scorer Jon Daly and Dean Shiels as they were marshalled and marked out of the game by the bustling Brechin back-line.

The hosts would have headed for the dressing room at half-time undoubtedly pleased with their efforts but with nothing to show for it, Darren Petrie's drive that was tipped over by Bell the closest they came to a goal in the first 45 minutes.

McKinnon would certainly have been the happier manager at the interval and his side were soon rewarded for their endeavours as Rangers' clean sheet record on the road came to an end.

IT was striker Robert Thomson who would do the damage, the City striker getting across Bilel Mohsni to meet Greg Cameron's cross and divert the ball beyond Bell at the near post.

The cheers that greeted the second goal of the afternoon may have come from the minority of the 3070 crowd inside Glebe Park but few could have argued about the scoreline as the Hedgemen grew in confidence.

They had Rangers on the back foot and looking flustered but it was the champions who would score next. It would come at a cost, however.

Having already lost playmaker Law, McCoist saw another of his midfield stalwarts leave the field early as Black was stretchered off after a challenge from Graham Hay.

It was the former Hearts star's replacement who would emerge as the Light Blues' hero, Clark proving the scourge of Brechin once again with a neat header at the back post after he was picked out by Daly.

After a fraught few minutes, Rangers settled back down to business as they looked to see the game out and the points could have been sealed when Aird raced through on goal but the winger saw his shot go just wide of Graeme Smith's far post.

In the end, it didn't matter as the champions saw the game out to add another three points to their tally this term.

Only time will tell what the damage is to their ambitions for the rest of the campaign, however.

Football

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