Rangers 3 -1 St Mirren (Att:49216)
By Peter Martin
There was a time when a team would come to ibrox and freeze in the tunnel, such was their fear of the Rangers jersey and the big crowd.
Those days are long gone, or so I thought. Step forward St Mirren and take a bow, because this was a team that looked every inch a defeated side inside the first half hour.
An almost capacity crowd roared on the home team and it only took 4 minutes for the Saints back line to cave in and allow defender Lee Wallace time to lash the ball high into the net from a Barrie McKay corner.
I don’t think the majority of Rangers fans believe this is the real deal just yet, all they want to see is a team playing football on the deck and giving their all for the jersey.
St Mirren fans want that too, but sadly the men in black and white couldn’t string two passes together in the first thirty minutes and resorted to lumping the ball into the stand early on to try and stop the tidal wave towards their goal.
Lee Wallace added number two for Rangers in the 26th minute, the build up was slick and incisive. Mckay and Holt combining to set up the on-rushing Wallace with a shooting opportunity inside the box. The left back didn’t disappoint with a firm strike past Ridgers.
At this point, I would have tipped Mark Warburton’s side to hit five or six against a disappointing Paisley outfit.
However, finally the Saints side woke up and ventured into the opposition half.
On loan Celtic player, Paul McMullan hit a sweet pass through the heart of the Rangers defence to allow Cameron Howieson to sweep the ball past Wes Foderingham to make it 2-1, minutes after conceding.
St Mirren came out with a far more determined attitude in the second half and pressed Rangers higher up the field, rather than sitting in and waiting for the inevitable.
In the 56th minute Ibrox fell silent as James Tavernier upended the impressive McMullan inside the box to leave Referee Kevin Clancy no option but to point to the spot.
Up stepped the captain of St Mirren, Steven Thompson with the perfect opportunity to lead by example and draw his side level. Amazingly, the striker blazed the ball way off target from 12 yards.
It was a woeful spot kick and summed up Thompson’s performance; he looked leaden footed and well off the pace right up until he was substituted beyond the 70 minute mark.
The penalty miss prompted the Ibrox fans to chant his name, something they rarely did when he wore the blue of Rangers!
Substitute Dean Shiels wrapped things up for the home side one minute from time, latching onto a Templeton cross to score at the second attempt.
There will be tougher tests ahead than the one supplied by St Mirren on Friday, but it’s three points and a well deserved man of the match performance by Lee Wallace.
Rangers will undoubtedly get better, as will St Mirren.
Mark Warburton praised his side, but once again highlighted the need for improvement.
“ We dominated possession, but we’ve got to be more clinical. Second half we had chance after chance and at 2-1 it is a dangerous scoreline.”
“Overall, I thought we deserved to win, but we’ve got to take our chances.
Ian Murray had a very positive spin on his side’s defeat.
“ We have got stuff to brush up on, but I think we showed enough to people that have written us off that we are not going to be too far away.”
“ If we play like we played in 90% of that game in all the other games this season, we will definitely be in the top four, there is no question about that.”