Five things we learned from Dundee 1 - 2 Rangers

Goals from Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller gave Rangers a 2-1 victory over Dundee. Picture: SNS
Goals from Harry Forrester and Kenny Miller gave Rangers a 2-1 victory over Dundee. Picture: SNS
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CRAIG Fowler looks back on the match at Dens Park, where Rangers got their first victory back in the top flight.

Rangers have not reined in the full-backs one bit

“They’ll get found out when they get to the top flight,” was an accusation thrown at Lee Wallace and, in particular, James Tavernier last season. We’d never really witnessed a team allow their two full-backs, at least not in a back four, to be so gung ho. It went against football convention. However, today’s result showed that Rangers are willing to take their chances and continue with the approach, and in this match it certainly worked. Tavernier’s run on the overlap led to the first and Wallace notched himself an assist for a second. The left back constantly got in behind the Dundee defence as Cammy Kerr and Danny Williams seemed incapable of tracking his runs, and Rangers should really have scored more through this source of creativity. There were chances for Dundee on the counter, as the centre backs were left exposed, but the Ibrox side are happy to live by these means, believing they’ll create more chances than the opposition each week.

Dundee are a team still in flux

The caveat to the above is that Dundee were a good opponent for Rangers to face. Paul Hartley’s side may be coming off an impressive 3-1 win away at Ross County last week, but they’re still adjusting after getting over the loss of Kane Hemmings and Greg Stewart. The hero from last week, Rory Loy, did not have a good game, failing to sufficiently hold play up in the manner Hemmings used to. The only time he really contributed to an attack, he won the corner from which his side scored. Jordi Teijsse looked a handful when he came on but he’s still very raw, having come over from the Dutch fourth tier, and Faissal El Bakhtaoui only recently joined. Hartley is still molding his squad for the new campaign and figuring out which combinations work better against certain teams.

Jordan Rossiter looks another good signing from Mark Warburton

After rotating between an attack-minded player (Andy Halliday) and centre back (Dominic Ball) last season, it finally looks as if Mark Warburton has a natural defensive midfielder. Someone who is capable on the ball, but also has a sense of danger and ability to shut down opposing attacks, which is crucial in a system where both full-backs are pushed on. Before we anoint him the Claude Makelele of Ibrox, it should be noted he wasn’t up against an attacking No.10. Mark O’Hara - more on him in a minute - was the closest thing Dundee had to someone in the role, but he dropped back a little further alongside James Vincent, leaving Rossiter with a little more room in which to operate. He did respond well to some early pressing from the hosts, but it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a team who show a little more attacking intent in the first hour than Dundee did in this match. The early signs are promising, though.

Mark O’Hara is a player transformed

The summer signing showed last week’s performance at Ross County wasn’t some sort of bizarre aberration. Though he played a little deeper than the No.10 role he occupied in Dingwall, he confirmed his capabilities in the centre of the park with another strong showing against Rangers. This sudden transformation in his play is more than just a former Kilmarnock right back excelling at a new club, it’s the intensity that accompanies his play. Though tall and athletic, he was viewed by detractors at Killie as someone who needed to toughen up a little. It’s safe to say, from the two matches we’ve seen thus far, a lack of aggression won’t be a problem at Dens. He may have been basically allowed a free run at the ball by Joey Barton, but he still showed great determination to get there before the Rangers centre backs could react, powering his side back into the match. And any time he powered forward with the ball at his feet from midfield, it looked like Dundee could make something happen.

Harry Forrester has Scott Brown’s powers of escape

You know the type. The guy on a booking who keeps escaping punishment for fouls. How Harry Forrester never saw red for a second bookable offence is something only Craig Thomson can explain. When a manager immediately withdraws a player following a foul, as Mark Warburton did here, it usually tells you the referee has been a bit lenient. Dundee can feel hard done by that their opponents weren’t reduced to ten men.

As for Forrester’s wider performance, when Rangers came into this season with so many new faces he was one of last season’s stars, alongside Andy Halliday and Jason Holt, who you wondered whether they were going to see much playing time this campaign. Well, after starting the season on the bench against Hamilton, he’s proven himself to be a player capable of starring in the top flight. He rescued that match with an inch-perfect assist and opened the scoring, amid a fine attacking performance, at Dens. He just maybe needs to cool it a little on the slide tackles.

READ MORE: Neil Lennon confirms interest in Andrew Shinnie

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/competitions/championship/neil-lennon-confirms-interest-in-andrew-shinnie-1-4202211

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