ON A day when Rangers supporters made a few pointed statements about the club’s ongoing political situation, Ally McCoist and his players delivered a message of their own.
Rangers: Hegarty 2; Law 39; Black 80; Shiels 85
Brechin City: Jackson 65
A week after Forfar Athletic had bundled them out of the League Cup, they put four past Brechin City at Ibrox yesterday, doing enough in the process to suggest that they will be formidable opponents when all of their new signings are eligible to play.
Despite the transfer embargo, Nicky Law and Jon Daly were able to turn out as trialists here, just as they had done against Albion Rovers two weeks ago, when Rangers won 4-0. “We have put a message out there that we are ready to put a lot of goals past teams,” said Lee Wallace, their full-back.
Law, in particular, was outstanding, adding another goal to the brace he scored against Albion, and generally giving more purpose and imagination to the Rangers midfield. There was a brief period, midway through the second half, when the home side allowed Brechin back into it, but overall, there was no denying their superiority.
The biggest cheer of the day came before the kick-off, when Sandy Jardine unfurled the Third Division championship flag. After doing the honours, the 64-year-old former Rangers defender, back at Ibrox after a battle with cancer, engaged in a lingering hug with McCoist on the touchline.
In these troubled times for Rangers, when it is often difficult to distinguish the bad guys from the good, the supporters cling to their legends. Jardine was a hard act to follow, but Andy Goram tried his best at half-time, and Alex McLeish made a cameo appearance on the big screen, warmly applauded by the capacity crowd.
When trouble brews, Rangers fans turn to their own, one of whom is McCoist.
While no-one would wish upon their likeable manager the stresses and strains of the last 18 months, the political backdrop of the club’s ongoing crisis has its advantages. He has struggled to make the most of Scotland’s second-biggest transfer budget, but they are willing to
forgive him, for the time being at least. After all, everything is black and white in the world of fan worship. McCoist is not Charles Green, therefore McCoist is good.
“Super Ally,” they chanted after Rangers had scored in only the second minute. Law took a short corner, accepted the ball back from Ian Black, then struck a shot across the face of goal. When the ball broke to Chris Hegarty at the back post, the young full-back turned it over the line.
Green, meanwhile, was getting it in the neck on a day when Jardine was not the only one on flag duty. An array of banners were unfolded, many of them aimed at the former chief executive, now back at the club as a “consultant”.
“Green & Co it’s time to go,” said one. “Red white and blue, no Green in Rangers,” was the gist of another. Intriguingly, the latter was then shown on the big screen, which must have pleased the self-acclaimed, straight-talking Yorkshireman.
That, of course, was the recurring phrase in McCoist’s rant against Green at Forfar, which took the headlines away from his team’s defeat. To be fair, they looked much better here, certainly in the first half, when they were utterly dominant and unfortunate not to be ahead by more at the interval.
That their half-time total reached only two was thanks largely to the profligacy of Daly. The former Dundee United striker will score plenty in the months ahead, but he missed a hatful here. The pick of the bunch was an opportunity at the back post, which he clattered with the inside of his right boot.
Law, on the other hand, reproduced the form that enabled him to score twice against Albion Rovers. Six minutes before the interval, he got the goal his performance deserved by gliding past two men and thumping a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
The early part of the second half was altogether more pedestrian from a Rangers point of view. They nearly scored again, when Brechin’s Jonathan Brown headed against his own crossbar, but the game’s third goal arrived at the other end. Steven Jackson, with his back to goal some 12 yards out, executed a neat bicycle kick that dipped over Scott Gallacher.
For a while, it looked as though Rangers were about to make a meal of it, but a controversial penalty rescued them with ten minutes to go.
When Andy Little went down
under a challenge by Paul McLean, the referee red-carded the Brechin defender, despite protests from his goalkeeper. Ian Black had his spot-kick saved, but he was alert enough to convert the rebound. Down to ten men,
Brechin’s challenge was over. Instead, they conceded another, although this time there was no dubiety about it. Substitute Dean Shiels, back after a lengthy injury absence, saw the goalkeeper off his line and cutely curled a right-foot shot over his outstretched hands.
Rangers: Gallacher; Hegarty, Faure, Cribari (McAusland 45), Wallace; Black; Little, Crawford (Shiels 70), Law, MacLeod; Daly. Unused subs: Smith, Gasparotto, McKay, Aird, Murdoch.
Brechin City: Smith; McLean, Jackson, McLauchlan, Brown (Moyes 76); Trouten, Molloy (Cameron 62), Henderson, Barr; Donnelly (Jackson 53), Carcary. Unused subs: Nelson, Tobin.
Referee: G Salmond. Attendance: 44,380.