RANGERS may have avoided the sort of negative result that caused them so much anguish when they last played Forfar Athletic back in August.

Yet, there was little, if anything at all, in the 1-0 triumph at Station Park yesterday for Ally McCoist and followers of the Ibrox club to be buoyed by.

The Glasgow giants were second best for long spells of the SPFL League One match in Angus and were highly fortunate to return home with all three points.

It could be argued that good teams win when they are playing poorly. But the paucity of the overall performance in the televised fixture was alarming for them.

That seven of the new players started the game against Dick Campbell's part-time side may have been partially responsible for the below-par display.

They may need more time to gel. But if there is any repeat of the insipid showing in the weeks or months to come then Rangers will suffer more of the sort of defeats that have been such an embarrassment to them in the last year.

McCoist, whose team remain five points clear at the top of the division, felt his side struggled to cope with the blustery conditions and defended his charges.

However, he accepted that, individually and collectively, his players can perform far better and agreed the fans who had made the long journey to Forfar were right to be upset.

"I wasn't happy with the performance and I told the players that afterwards," he said. "But I can sympathise with them because of the wind.

"I would cut the players some slack because of it. The conditions played a massive part in the way the game was played. Sadly for the fans, there wasn't a lot of football.

"The wind was horrendous. It was all over the place. You saw that with the number of times the ball hung in the air or went flying forward.

"It certainly didn't help the flow of the game and it didn't help us pass the ball. I would cut the players some slack because of the wind. We probably won't have to earn another three points like that this year."

It was the second game in succession where Rangers had to play on an artificial pitch and the players were clearly not comfortable with the surface.

Several of them, including Lee McCulloch, Arnold Peralta and Lee Wallace, went down clutching their legs and required extensive medical attention before continuing.

McCoist said: "A few of the guys went down because of it. Arnold twisted his studs on it. But I am not going to moan about it. You have to play on it so there is no point complaining about it."

The Rangers manager made one change to the team that overcame Queen of the South in the quarter-final of the Ramsdens Cup five days previously.

He brought in David Templeton and relegated Robbie Crawford to the bench. With Lewis Macleod out injured there were none of the Murray Park kids who have impressed so much in their outings since last summer in the starting line-up.

The arrival of so many experienced players in the close season was always going to make it more difficult for the youngsters to feature in the first team at Ibrox.

Crawford and Barrie McKay - who came on late in the game - were both on the bench and they, and others like Fraser Aird, Chris Hegarty and Kyle McAusland, will get their chance if they attain a sufficient high standard.

However, it is sad to see none of players involved who last season showed so much ability, enthusiasm and potential in helping the Glasgow club win the Third Division.

Rangers appeared to miss their contribution at times in the first half yesterday as they struggled to break down determined and hard-working opponents.

When Omar Kader was given time and space to get a shot away in the Rangers penalty area in the seventh minute every travelling supporter inside Station Park must have been feeling decidedly uneasy.

It took until just before half-time for Rangers to engineer an opening and even then it was a result of a slack piece of play by Forfar defender Darren Dods.

He gifted Templeton possession with a poor clearance. The midfielder supplied Andy Little and his team-mate netted with the outside of his right foot.

It was a good time for Rangers to score. Yet, the home team were by far the brighter side at the start of the second half and Dale Hilson was unlucky not to score on two occasions.

Nicky Law showed great skill to tee himself up for a shot in the 65th minute. Inexplicably, though, the Englishman fired over the crossbar from close range. But that was an isolated attack.

With a strong wind behind them, Forfar gave Cammy Bell a torrid afternoon with several speculative long-distance efforts. Templeton was well positioned to clear a Dods shot off his own goal-line in the 75th minute.

That he was, ultimately ensured his side avoided another embarrassing scoreline.