Support fail to become starry-eyed prior to brief encounter...

AS THEIR team were busy throwing away two points on the park, the Rangers support were allowing their minds to wander in the stands.

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McCoist will try and boost morale ahead of Tannadice
McCoist will try and boost morale ahead of Tannadice

They unfurled a banner at Ibrox deep into the second half, a message urging their side to go into the William Hill Scottish Cup battle against Dundee United next weekend with courage, verve and attitude.

After all the fuss over tickets and the decision by the club to refuse their allocation, there will be a wall of tangerine to greet Ally McCoist's side this Saturday lunchtime.

"Carry our noise with the badge of honour on your breast. Give them hell at Tannadice," it pleaded.

Yet, on Saturday's evidence, there will be no-one within United's dressing room quaking in their boots at the sight of this team limping into view.

Up front, they were toothless, incapable of killing off Montrose. At the back there remains a soft centre about the Ibrox defence; David Gray scored a peach of a goal with a rasping drive that cannoned off the crossbar and bounced over the line, but there was an invitation from the Gers rearguard to take a pop.

In the middle of the park there was a distinct lack of creativity.

Ian Black started on the bench but came on to replace the injured Lewis MacLeod. The former Hearts midfielder hit the post twice and put in a plucky performance, but he and Kyle Hutton both offer a very similar service in the side.

But for all that Rangers have deficiencies, they still should be able to beat, at Ibrox and in front of more than 46,000 supporters, the likes of Montrose.

The home crowd were gracious in the aftermath of the game – with a 20-point lead at the top of the table they can afford to be – as they applauded the part-timers off, but they were equally forthright as they booed their own men.

McCoist fumed after the game that it was the angriest he had ever been with his side. The dropped points – for the sixth time this season – ultimately matters not a jot, but the sloppiness of his men must give him cause for concern, particularly with the Scottish Cup tie coming into sharp focus.

There was a malaise about Rangers against Montrose with even the goal they did score. David Templeton's cross was diverted by John Crawford past his own goalkeeper on the cusp of half-time to ease the growing frustration among the natives.

Yet, for all that the Light Blues dominated possession and peppered the visitors' goal, there was always the hint that there was going to be a leveller.

What happens next now is anyone's guess. The game at Tannadice is entirely different to the routine from of the Irn-Bru Third Division. The cup game with United gives them a platform to release the frustration of their current predicament and vent it on an SPL side, one who they believe played a part in their descent to the bottom tier of Scottish football.

Anger and determination, though, will only take them so far. Their hosts have been nowhere near the force they have been previously but if they have paid any attention to recent displays they will not be overly anxious.

The only player in the current Ibrox ranks who could give United genuine trouble is Lee Wallace. The defender has been impressive throughout this campaign.

Defensively astute and threatening breaking forward, Wallace is the one player who may be able to open Peter Houston's men up.

When Gers put Motherwell out of the Scottish Communities League Cup earlier this season, there was a swagger about them, although it also ought to be pointed out that there was a real lack of belief about the Fir Park side.

It will be different at Tannadice. The furore over tickets could well backfire on Rangers who could be doing with all the support they can get.

United are on their own patch, in front of a vocal crowd and on recent displays, it may not be a tie that this Ibrox side quite have the stomach for.

Unless McCoist can work a minor miracle this week and inject his side with a healthy dose of conviction.


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