ANY number of off-field distractions have been placed in the way of the Rangers squad and management both last season and this, and that has been no different over the past few days as the battle for control of the Ibrox boardroom has continued.
But, in the league at least, they have been able to remain focused on the task, as they proved again yesterday with a 2-0 win at Ayr United.
“It’s a box of tricks managing the club in the last year or so,” Ally McCoist said after his team’s eighth win from eight games in League One. “We’ll just handle anything that’s thrown to us. Last week was interesting, but the most important thing is the team are performing and getting results on the park for the supporters. Today we did that again.”
McCoist accepted that the first half had not gone the way he had hoped, but rightly pointed out that, once ahead, his team had never looked like failing to pick up the three points. “I thought it went according to their [Ayr’s] plan in the first half.
“We knew it would be extremely difficult. It was a typical away game in the league, to be honest with you. They were very difficult opposition, as you’d expect – full of spirit, full of commitment. I said to our boys we felt it was just a matter of matching the opposition spirit. And, particularly in the early stages of the game, I thought we did that to a certain degree. I didn’t think by any stretch of the imagination we were great in the first half. But I thought we upped it in the second half and I thought we ran out deserved victors.”
Bilel Mohsni was on the scoresheet again, and McCoist praised the Frenchman’s contribution at both ends of the field. “He’s been great. I think he’s full of surprises.
“The way he plays the game – every game he’s involved in there’s a talking point. He’s a fans’ favourite, he likes to go forward, he’s certainly powerful in both boxes.
“He scored with an overhead kick against Stenhousemuir last week, he scored a fantastic goal today and he had a hand in the second goal. We’re certainly enjoying his work at the moment – as we are with the vast majority of the team.”
It was the second week in a row that Mohsni was on the scoresheet, but he still has some way to go before he challenges his record for a season. “I scored 18 in a season once when I was playing in the under-18s,” the centre-half said. “I don’t know if I can beat that – we will see. I was playing in central midfield then.
“We didn’t score in the first half so there was a little bit of pressure,” he added about the match. “After we scored the pressure went down.”
Ayr player/manager Mark Roberts agreed to an extent with that analysis, though suggested that Lewis McLeod’s overhead kick for Rangers’ second goal should have been chalked off for dangerous play. “For the first 45 minutes I thought we did great,” he said. “We just switched off for the first goal and the big boy Mohsni had a great strike.
“The second goal – when you see it back it’s actually dangerous play. Kevin Kyle was done in the first half for putting his feet into Ian Black, who’s two foot three. So he [McLeod] came down with an overhead kick in the box and there’s a guy just about to head it.
“We’re disappointed with some decisions. We had a game plan today, we stuck to it and it worked for 45 minutes.
“As soon as Rangers got the second goal, the game kind of died on us. It was disappointing.
“The boys did all right, but I don’t like them accepting defeat. When you’re playing against a team in your own league you should still maybe have more of a go than we did in the second half.”
Having said that, Roberts agreed that, if his team keep up the same standard against the rest of League One, they will come out on top more often than not. “Aye, we’ll win. We’ve been playing at that level most of the season. We did fine today and we have been for most of the season.”