Peterhead 2-2 Rangers: Listless Rangers ‘receive a rude awakening’
Rangers had to travel a long way to learn a quick lesson about life in the lower reaches on Saturday. Ally McCoist’s side was studded with internationalists and yet they were undone by a plumber, among many other artisans in the Peterhead ranks.
Scorers: Peterhead - McAllister (64), McLaughlin (82); Rangers - McKay (27), Little (90)
Of course, there is an argument to say that Rory McAllister, who began Peterhead’s comeback with an exquisite finish just after the hour mark, is similar to Rangers in that he is performing at a level unbefitting of his talent. The striker has been courted by many Scottish Premier League clubs but chose to drop down a division to sign for Peterhead from Brechin City in order to complete an apprenticeship in his chosen trade.
As with Rangers, he hasn’t always found it easy to adjust to a level where he had been expected to run riot. Even on Saturday he was accused by one main stand denizen of being “lazy” as he struggled to impose himself in the first half. But he found his touch after the interval, when it was expected that Rangers would make their superior fitness levels tell and close out the win following Barrie McKay’s 26th minute opener.
How wrong this assumption proved to be. The warmth of welcome Rangers had received perhaps helped put players such as Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra at ease as they arrived at the Balmoor front door. Bag-pipers were out in force and the erection of marquees for hospitality purposes meant there was a village fete-feel to the proceedings. In the match programme, Peterhead vice-chairman Ian Grant observed that “there has been much written in regards to the rights and wrongs of the Rangers situation”. However, he added, “that is in the past and we will make Ally McCoist and his team most welcome”.
Jim McInally’s players took this too literally at first. The manager later made the novel complaint that they had committed too few fouls in the opening 45 minutes. It was amusing to then hear McInally rail against those who had demeaned the standard of the Third Division. “The best thing for me is that people will now respect the Third Division,” he said. “There was a well-known journalist who called us glorified juniors. I thought that was bang out of order. It was disrespectful to juniors, never mind Third Division players.”
McInally absolved Rangers of the charge of taking their opponents lightly, although McCoist was not quite so sure that all his players had been suitably prepared for the challenge. “It might just be a rude awakening for one or two,” he said. That said, Rangers did actually look fairly comfortable in the opening half, although the sight of McAllister nut-megging Goian was a sign that more serious embarrassment lay in store. McKay got Rangers’ Third Division adventures under way with the opening goal, picking up a long ball from Lewis MacLeod that had been flicked on by Lee McCulloch. Considering he is only 17 years old, McKay’s finish was exceptional.
Proof that Rangers might not have it all their own way came when Ian Black collected his first booking of the league season after showing dissent when penalised for a foul. It had him beating the turf in frustration. There was further dismay for him and his team-mates on 61 minutes when McAllister easily turned Bocanegra in the box, after exchanging the ball neatly from one foot to the other. He then placed a shot into the corner of Neil Alexander’s net.
McInally had suspected that Peterhead’s Achilles heel would be trying to defend corners. Their struggles became particularly apparent when McCoist sent on a lofty pair of substitutes in Fran Sandaza and Kevin Kyle. “The Harlem Globetrotters could not have stopped them,” McInally lamented. The former missed a series of chances to help Rangers regain the lead before Scott McLaughlin rocked the visitors back on their heels with his side’s second, rifling in from the edge of the box after Alexander had been able to get only a punch to Ryan Strachan’s corner.
Kyle was immediately sent on by a fretting McCoist. The striker managed to do what was required by reaching a Dean Shiels corner. The presence of fellow 6ft plus team-mates such as Goian and Sandaza had helped create maximum panic in the Peterhead box. Kyle’s header was kept out, if only just, by Paul Jarvie. However, Andy Little managed to squeeze the ball over the line. Rangers had already been reduced to feeling grateful for rather agricultural efforts snatched with seconds of normal time remaining. The fourth official, a special addition to life in the Third Division on those occasions when Rangers attract live television cameras, immediately raised his board to inform all of the three minutes added time to be played, during which Peterhead might even have claimed a winner. It would not have been undeserved.
However, Peterhead accepted the point earned gladly enough. They now leave the problem of having to cope with eight internationalists to others over the next few weeks.
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