Annan Athletic 0 - 0 Rangers: More awayday blues for Rangers
ANOTHER Rangers awayday in the Third Division, another day of heady excitement and media scrums in a couthy provincial town and another day of frustration mixed with an undercurrent of embarrassment for Ally McCoist and his men.
Referee: C Charleston
It would be ludicrous to suggest that any lasting damage has been done to the reborn Ibrox club’s promotion winning objective for this campaign and, as the Annan manager Harry Cairney suggested afterwards, it is probably only a matter of time before one of the sides in the basement division “gets a real doing” when Rangers come calling.
Nevertheless, three successive draws on the road means that McCoist is being forced to follow what must seem like a tiresomely repetitive script when going through the post-match rituals with both his players and the press. The word “disappointed” crops up more often than not and on Saturday it was directed mainly at the lack of width shown by his charges, which undoubtedly assisted a gallant Annan side doing everything to congest the road to goal. While the fact recent signing David Templeton had to hobble off with an ankle injury early on did not help Rangers’ bid to stretch the game down the flanks, McCoist did not seek to use that as an excuse and returned to another theme which has been aired following similar experiences at Peterhead and Berwick – that of having “utmost respect” for their part-time opponents.
After Rangers’ place in the humble surrounds of Division Three was confirmed in the summer it was always likely to be the case that their trips to the more remote outposts of the Scottish game would assume the status of a series of David v Goliath cup ties, and so far the outcomes haven’t wavered too far from the original script. Annan would have been flattered if they had nicked all three points but they did have a few chances to land a sling-like blow on the Glasgow giants, most notably when Jack Steele found himself with clear openings on Neil Alexander’s goal either side of half-time. The big occasion got the better of the diminutive midfielder each time however and he fluffed his efforts. For all the lack of creativity and width about Rangers’ play, they still believed they could smash their way through the heart of the Annan defence but, although there were several narrow escapes for the Dumfriesshire side, their defence remained remarkably unflustered throughout. The sense of this being a big one-off occasion for the likes of Steven Swinglehurst – currently taking a plumbing course at college in Carlisle – was underlined by the happy but exhausted 19-year-old’s take on the entire hullaballoo surrounding the game.
“It’s one of those games that you dream about – a draw against one of the biggest teams in Europe – it’s unbelievable. We definitely deserved it and it was a great performance by the lads,” he said. Lifting the level of performance “comes from adrenalin and all that”, he continued. “When you know you’re playing Rangers you’re doing extra work in training and away from training just to get your fitness to that peak. It’s a mentality thing too – when you see Lee McCulloch walking around and the size of him, you know you’ve got to perform, be up for the fight and not be overrun”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west