03 Dec Rangers bite back
Rangers manager Mark Warburton felt his players answered questions over their battling qualities by grinding out a 2-1 victory over Aberdeen.
Second-half goals from Kenny Miller and Lee Hodson gave Rangers a first win over their top-four rivals this season and sent the Govan club back into second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Aberdeen could not respond until Andrew Considine headed home deep in injury-time, moments after Rangers defender Clint Hill and Aberdeen skipper Ryan Jack were sent off.
Rangers received seven of the game’s 11 yellow cards and their performance was in stark contrast to their limp display at Tynecastle on Wednesday, when they went down 2-0 to Hearts.
“The players were more than irked by comments made about them, by comments questioning their battling qualities and their desire,” Warburton said. “More than irked would be a polite way of putting it.
“But they responded really well, there was a lot of nonsense written about them and they more than answered those questions.”
James Tavernier was one of five players who dropped to the bench and Rangers showed they could adapt to the pressing game that gave them so much trouble at Tynecastle.
“We thought they would come on and press us having seen the Wednesday game, which they did,” Warburton said. “They pushed Shay Logan on to Lee (Wallace) and went one on one at the back and we had to be brave.
“We said ‘if we have to go long early stages, go long’. Joe Garner is aerially very strong so if we have to go long and change it, do that and beat the press that way. We were happy with it.
“First half nobody really controlled the game, it was pretty neutral. Lee Wallace had a great chance, great movement from Lee and unlucky not to get the goal. But second half we stepped on and won second balls and I felt we deserved to win the game.”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes disagreed with the last sentiment but he admitted the game was “won and lost in both boxes”.
His side had a glorious chance to open the scoring four minutes before Miller swept home Joe Garner’s deflected 52nd-minute cross, but Jayden Stockley sent a free header wide from six yards from Jonny Hayes’ perfect delivery.
“From penalty box to penalty box I thought we were the better team,” McInnes said.
“I thought we really got after Rangers, we pressed them high, we were competitive, we were winning tackles, we were fully committed. I thought we stopped a good team, a team who like to pass and play and move the ball and test your organisation. I thought we really frustrated them.
“But we said to the players at half-time, it was important in the final third to carry more of a threat ourselves,. We got in good areas and rushed that last wee bit.
“We had more opportunities to apply pressure with the ball rather than just without the ball, and Rangers scored when we were having our best spell.
“We started the second half really on the front foot, we passed and moved the ball well, got into good areas, still should be doing more with it, but Jayden’s is clearly the one we all remember.
“It was a good stand-up from Jonny and Jayden would normally eat that type of service up, but he misses. It happens but unfortunately for us it was very pivotal.”
McInnes did not see what Jack received his second booking for, after a lengthy spell of pushing which involved most of the players, but Warburton was unhappy that Hill had received a second yellow card for fouling James Maddison. The defender’s first foul on Maddison came after team-mate Andy Halliday went down clutching his throat.
“The first one was a yellow card borne out of frustration, simply because of what happened to Andy Halliday,” the Rangers manager said.
“There was a lot of things going on on the pitch and many of them were being missed. The second one, he didn’t touch him, he said the guy turned and no contact was made. What we can do, we will see, but he is more than frustrated.”