Stalemate in Alloa leaves Rangers’ Mark Warburton frustrated

Michael O'Halloran (left) scores to equalise for Rangers. Picture: SNS Group

Michael O'Halloran (left) scores to equalise for Rangers. Picture: SNS Group

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It is a testament to the goalscoring prowess of the Ladbrokes Championship leaders that three goals netted from four games can only be looked upon as a drought in comparison with the rest of their 2015-16 season.

Rangers entered Saturday’s away trip to Alloa as by far and away the highest scoring side in the second tier with 65 goals. That was 27 more than both Falkirk and Hibernian, despite the latter being able to call on the prolific shooting boots of Jason Cummings, Anthony Stokes and, to a lesser extent, James Keatings. Yet, for the fourth consecutive match, Mark Warburton’s men were highly frustrated in front of goal.

When Jason Marr put the underdogs ahead, it appeared that Rangers would be heading for their third defeat of the league season. The visitors had battered the home goal in the opening 25 minutes but, once Alloa settled into the match, it became increasingly hard for Glasgow side to pass their way through.

Finally, with time ticking away, they managed to galvanise themselves and began the onslaught once more for the final 15 minutes. However, even though Michael O’Halloran netted on his first league start – a goal that should do the winger’s confidence a world of good – Warburton was left visibly frustrated at full-time. It was perhaps the first time this season that the Rangers boss didn’t concentrate on the positives in the aftermath of a disappointing result, insisting that his players needed to be more “clinical” in front of goal.

Warburton probably won’t appreciate the irony, but this scoring “slump” has occurred at the exact time Rangers have tightened things up at the back, as Marr’s goal broke a streak of four consecutive clean sheets – the longest run enjoyed by the Ibrox club this season. Those wondering if the two are connected would do well to pore over the stats: Rangers had 25 shots, won 23 corners and enjoyed 71 per cent possession. Clearly one of those days is turning into one of those months as far as the attackers are concerned.

Warburton and his players have always insisted they will keep playing their own way and won’t change their ways in reaction to a negative result. Once again, that message was hammered home following Saturday’s draw.

“There is only one thing and the manager is preaching it to us day in day out – we just do what we do. We turn up and play our game,” said striker Kenny Miller, who came off the bench in the second half. “If we play that way and create that level of chances in the last 12 games then I’ll be more than happy. We can’t create those sort of chances again and not score three or four goals. The players in that dressing room are too good to continue missing the chances we created today. If we do that then we’ll be fine.

“We work on it every single week. The situations that you see us put in on a Saturday are the situations we work at day in, day out. It is just bad luck, call it what you will. I thought we had enough chances in the Kilmarnock game to win. We should’ve won that game. Against Alloa we should have won comfortably, but we didn’t. We have to put it right. It might just be a wee blip and, on the back of it, we might go and bang in three or four on Tuesday.”

Everyone had assumed Hibs, kicking off after the full-time whistle at the Indodrill Stadium, would cut the gap at the top to six points with a win over lowly Livingston. Instead, Alan Stubbs’ side were forced to settle for a point and Rangers’ lead remained at eight. Miller, however, insists they are not bothered in the slightest by what Hibs may or may not do as they focus on keeping the title destination in their own hands.

“We’re not interested in what Hibs are doing,” added Miller. “We’re ahead in the league. If we win our remaining games we’ll win the league, it’s as simple as that. If we create the chances that we did against Alloa then I’ll be more than happy come the end of the season and we’ll go up.”

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