Peterhead spurred on by role as underdogs, says goal hero McLaughlin
ACCORDING to midfielder Scott McLaughlin, Peterhead drew inspiration from being written off in so many quarters as the eyes of British football were trained on Balmoor for one rather surreal afternoon.
Rangers played their first-ever non-top-flight league match at Peterhead on Saturday and found it an awkward experience. The presence of live television cameras were a reminder of their previous station in life. But they learned that switching off on the pitch can be just as fatal in the Third Division as it is in the Scottish Premier League. Rangers threw away a one-goal lead in the second half and only earned a draw due to a scrappy last-minute equaliser from Andy Little.
“The gaffer [Jim McInally] said to us that no-one expects you to do anything,” said McLaughlin, who put Peterhead ahead with just eight minutes remaining. “But we managed to put on a great show. I am sure the fans enjoyed it. The players certainly did.
“We have a lot of good players in there but we were part of the side-show. A lot of people were dismissing us. But we were quite confident that we could go about our business and get in about them. Because they pressed so high it gave us the chance to get opportunities.”
McLaughlin tried not to focus too much on the amount of talent in the Rangers ranks. Their starting line-up featured eight internationalists and yet Peterhead rallied after conceding the opener mid-way through the first-half. The scorer was Barrie McKay, one of two unexperienced players in the Rangers side.
“I did not pay much attention to them,” said McLaughlin. “But they have some good international players and they have built a decent squad. They probably should be beating teams. Let’s not kid ourselves, they are in the Third Division and they should be winning. But we can be proud of ourselves. Rangers will get a bit of stick but we can take a bit of credit for the way we played.”
Of his 82nd minute goal, McLaughlin said: “I wish it was the winner.” Little’s scrambled equaliser denied him this claim to fame, however. “I suppose you don’t expect to score the winner in the Third Division against Rangers,” he added. “You don’t expect to play against Rangers in the Third Division.”
McLaughlin expects others to take some inspiration from the way Peterhead matched their more illustrious opponents on Saturday. Rangers’ next away match in the league is at Berwick Rangers, a place which already holds bleak memories for the Ibrox side.
“I hope we have set a standard and others can take heart from the way we played,” said McLaughlin. “But they [Rangers] will pick themselves up. They will be up there at the end. They are used to playing in the Premier League and in Europe, they are not used to coming to grounds like this. It might have been a shock. But I am sure they will adjust.”
Ally McCoist acknowledged that every away game in the Third Division will be played in a “cup-tie” atmosphere. “That’s exactly how I felt it was today,” said the Rangers manager.
“They [Peterhead] did not try and play through us a lot but they got the ball from back to front and they were getting success with that, so why should they change it? I did feel it was a bit of a cup-tie atmosphere, which we will have to get used to.
“You have to earn the right to go and play and compete. In the second half, I thought there was a lot more desire from their front players to score a goal than there was from our lads to keep them out.We will draw games and we will lose games in this league, but my overriding feeling is disappointment at the way we defended.”
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