A Kris Boyd goal within 30 seconds of kick-off and a second half Carlos Cuellar goal was enough for Rangers to see off the Caley Thistle challenge.
After taking 7 of a possible 9 points from the Gers last season, this seasons numbers are a little less pleasing... 0 out of a possible 6!
|03/11/07||Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow|
|Rangers||2 Boyd (1), Cuellar (63)|
Team: McGregor, Hutton, Cuellar, Weir, Papac, Beasley, Ferguson, Hemdani, McCulloch, Novo (Cousin 60), Boyd (Darcheville 61)
Subs: Naismith, Furman, Lennon, Faye, Carroll
Team: Fraser, Tokely, Munro, McCaffrey, Hastings, Proctor (Morgan 86), Duncan, Black (Cowie 87), McBain, Bayne, Wyness (Niculae 84)
Subs: D. McDonald, Vigurs, Kerr, Malkowski
A smaller than usual army of Caley Jags fans turned up for this weeks SPL fixture against Rangers at Ibrox. Hardly surprising given the price of tickets to see any of the teams in the SPL these days and with away trips to play Gretna last weekend and Aberdeen midweek then wallets will have already taken a pounding.
It’s been a strange week though. After a convincing performance against Gretna where we never looked to be in danger we were taken back down to earth with a bump in our CIS Cup fixture against Aberdeen despite playing some decent football. One never expects to go to Ibrox and come away with the points but given the fact that that our only loss there had been over 3 years ago, then we had reason enough to be upbeat.
We were down in good time on the minibus and nosiness had gotten the better of me and I wanted to check up on the rumours that Barry Wilson had been dropped from the squad and would not be making the trip south with the team, so we headed round to meet the team bus….low and behold there was no sign of him. However, this didn’t stop the ladies battling to the front of the crowd to drool over the lads and offer some encouragement ahead of the game. The Wilson question had been answered, but curiosity remains as to the reasons!!! Best place to ponder over such things is in the pub, so off we went for a couple of lemonades before heading in to the game.
Listening to the squad being announced things started to get strangerer and strangerer. Not only had Wilson not been included in the squad, but the on form Cowie who has performed consistently for us all season had been relegated to the bench with Proctor getting a start.
I’d barely reached my seat when I glanced up to see the ball in the back of the ICT net. Only 34 seconds in to the game and a goal down…from memory that is the quickest goal we have ever conceded and actually quite fascinating when you consider we’d had the kick-off and the play leading up to the goal had resulted from McCaffery bringing Novo down from a free-kick just inside our own half. Ferguson took it quickly, passing to Novo who caught us napping - feeding the ball through a gap big enough for a 747 for Boyd to latch on to leaving only the keeper to beat. Oh Horlicks!!!
Was this going to be a repeat of Wednesday night? Wyness was first to give the ICT fans something to shout about when only moments after losing the goal he was up the other end and testing McGregor…well, making him aware we had turned up at least, as he had little to do but catch the long range effort…still promising signs that we had some idea on the direction of the goal. Beasley was next to get the ball in the net, but fortunately for us he’d been flagged offside before he’d even touched it. 5 minutes in, and already Rangers are looking to run the clock down with wasted efforts after the whistle had been blown....lol. It wasn’t all one way traffic and although Rangers looked like they may pose a threat on a couple of occasions our defence, in large, seemed to be dealing with most of what they had to throw at us. Meanwhile at the other end Bayne had been given a couple of opportunities to open the scoring…going narrowly over with his first effort and having his second blocked by Cuellar. Munro also had a half chance with a long ranged left foot effort which went wide of the mark. Novo was next to notch up a conversion putting on over the bar and Duncan did the same for us at the other end. Had this been a game of Rugby we might actually have had our noses in front based on drop goals!!! Much of the action was taking place in the middle of the park with both teams making the odd toothless foray into the oppositions third which wasn’t causing either keeper too many problems. Rangers had a couple of half decent chances just before the break when Fraser got a string hand to a shot from Beasley to parry it for the corner and McCulloch went wide with a header.
HT – Rangers 1 v 0 Inverness CT
We were a goal down, but we certainly didn’t look out of it. It was hard to tell if Rangers were just “doing enough” and had it in them to step up the pressure if needed, but we had been knocking the ball about well and only seemed to be lacking a bit of creativity in order to open up some better chances at the front. The defence who have come under a lot of criticism this season seemed to be performing a little better, partly down to the presence of Proctor who was dropping back to cover for Tokely when he was making charges forward…although this did leave us a bit lacking in the middle on occasion. This seemed to have been the reason for replacing Cowie, but with us being a goal down and it getting to the stage where we might need to chase the game then thoughts during the HT chat among fans surrounded substitutes and whether we may see them before the magic 79 minute mark.
Caley Thistle appeared to have the majority of possession at the start of the second half but it was 10 minutes in before we saw the first effort from any team go near the goalmouth when Bayne popped the ball over the bar from the edge of the area. Fraser gathered a shot from Beasley without much effort and Tokely picked up the first yellow card of the game following a slack tackle on same. Caley Thistle looked to have been handed a golden opportunity when a Weir, attempting to head back to McGregor, succeeded in putting it over the keeper and into the front of the goal…a yard quicker off the mark and we would have equalised, but McGregor recovered and eventually managed to smother the ball.
Not surprisingly, Rangers were the first to make some changes when Novo and Boyd were replaced by Cousin and Darcheville on the 60 minute mark. Rangers started to turn the screw at this point and it wasn’t long before substitute Darcheville left his mark on the game. His clever ball from the middle of the area was met by Cuellar who scored into the bottom right of the net, leaving Fraser with no chance at a save. Frustration seemed to be setting in and Hastings was next to pick up a yellow card for a tackle on Hutton. The game was crying out for a tactical change on the part of Inverness, especially now that we had gone 2 down. We needed to bring on players to give us more of an attacking threat, be that someone with pace coming in to the midfield or us sacrificing a man at the back to put a third forward on the park, who knows, but the change was needed. We had been creating chances the whole game, but they were mostly long(ish) range efforts and we weren’t doing anything to carve our way through the back line of Rangers. Our long balls in to the box were being crowded out and it was only from set pieces we were getting any penetration.
McBain and Duncan had both had chances and Proctor was caught offside when it looked like he may have stolen a chance to go through one on one with the keeper but the only keeper being tested to any degree was Fraser. If we weren’t putting it over the bar then we were playing it straight in to the hands of McGregor. The “Magic 79 Minute Mark” had come and gone with still no sign of any changes for ICT, this was all getting rather frustrating. Then finally on 84 minutes we made a change with Niculae coming on to replace Wyness. Again a baffling decision, what we needed was more of a threat, so why take of our top scoring Striker!!! 2 minutes later we made a double substitution. Black and Proctor coming off to be replaced by Cowie and Morgan. 4 minutes left in the game and we’re looking for miracles. In truth, other than a late shot by Cowie we rarely saw the ball again.
Full Time: 2-0
Yet again the lads on the pitch had, for the most part, done what had been asked of them by the manager. I remain perplexed by the late use of substitutes in games where they are crying out for changes earlier on, and this “like for like” change of players on the pitch is doing little to change the tactics even when subs are made. Early in the season some of the players looked like they needed a good kick up the jacksie to get them going but things changed around when Brewster arrived…now it’s Brewster that looks like he needs the kick to get him going so as to prove that he has more about him as a manager than just getting the squad fit.