THOSE of a Rangers disposition that though much might be well in the Ibrox club’s world post-Brian Stockbridge surely would have found yesterday’s encounter a tough watch.
The problems at the club go well beyond finance directors... and even finance, dare it be said. Indeed, it is curious that Stockbridge should have so comprehensively carried the can for the club’s hemorrhagging of money. Anyone the foggiest who was the financial director at Rangers in the David Murray era when the club’s debts spiralled to £76 million?
Even if the latest win for Ally McCoist’s win marked their 21st in 22 League One matches, there was no glory in the victory – despite the Rangers manager’s bizarre post-match claims that it had been “another great day” for his team, and that they had “played really well”, apart from the loss of “two poor goals”. Rangers most certainly did not play well.
To collect their latest three points, they had to recover from a 2-1 deficit with the assistance of a bright cameo from winger David Templeton – a player they have been hawking around all manner of clubs in the hope of recouping £150,000 of the £750,000 outlay on him – and a disputed penalty. All of this against the second-bottom team in the league, Arbroath now merely a point above bottom-placed side Airdrieonians.
McCoist seemed to deliberately say little of import in the aftermath, and that extended to questions regarding Stockbridge. “The club have released a statement and I won’t say anything further on it,” was his reply when first asked about the development. When the issue was reframed as the fans welcoming Stockbridge’s departure, he stuck to his line: “The club have made a statement”.
Templeton might have made a small statement with his contribution, McCoist admitting he had been “integral” to the win after being brought on for Lewis MacLeod in the 56th minute, and proved he was capable of being as “game changer”, having also scored from the bench in the Forfar win last Monday. As Rangers began to look a little ragged, the wide man burst down the left-hand side of the box with 18 minutes left and lashed a shot across the bows of visiting keeper Scott Morrison and into the far corner of the net.
In the eyes of Arbroath, at least, there was controversy about the match-winner, which was an emphatic penalty conversion from Lee McCulloch, that followed referee Barry Cook adjudging Colin Hamilton to have tugged the arm of Jon Daly as the pair challenged for a cross from substitute Andy Little.
The pictures suggested that Cook called the award correctly. However, Arbroath manager Paul Sheerin still chose to have a moan about the decision, which, to his team’s credit, didn’t break them. Indeed, the visitors should have equalised in the closing seconds, no-one in maroon able to force in during a scramble that brought a goal-line clearance from McCulloch. “I don’t think the penalty was fair,” Sheerin said. “Hamilton’s been caught on the wrong side, but the ball was going high and wide so I don’t know how much chance Daly had of getting it. Sometimes they’re given and more often than not when you come to these places the decisions go against you.”
Sheerin wasn’t interested in being patted on the back for a plucky, but losing showing. The afternoon started in dream fashion for his side with Rangers sliced open down the left two minutes in courtesy of a move that allowed Bobby Linn to cross for David Banjo to net with a clipped volley. Daly provided the Rangers equaliser as the half approached the midway point by guiding a Lee Wallace cut-back from the left into the far corner.
Rangers, though, continued to look laboured and when McCulloch didn’t have the legs to track Linn and the forward raced in and the player knocked a low effort in off Cammy Bell’s post, a shock looked possible.
Which made the Arbroath manager right to be disappointed with the final scoreline. “When you’re deep, you can make it difficult for the other team,” he said. “It’s not easy to break things down but I thought with the pace we had going forward we did have a threat. I thought the boys were excellent. Again, it’s what could have been and we’ve had a season of that up till now. We need to start turning performances into results.”
Rangers, meanwhile, could be doing with turning results into performances.
Rangers: Bell, Faure, Wallace, Black, McCulloch, Mohsni, Aird, Law, Daly, Shiels (A Little, 59), MacLeod (Templeton, 56).
Subs not used: Simonsen, Crawford, Foster, Peralta, Cribari.
Goals: J Daly 21; D Templeton 72; L McCulloch 78 (pen).
Booked: I Black
Arbroath: Morrison, R Little, Hamilton, Nicoll, Travis, Keddie, Banjo (Sheerin, 79), Chisholm (Bayne, 85), Linn, Scott (McManus, 79), Cook.
Subs not used: Wood, Lindsay, Yao, Robertson
Goals: D Banjo 2; B Linn 50.
Booked: C Hamilton, A Cook.
Referee: B Cook