IF ALLY McCoist was expecting a reaction from his players for being branded the worst Rangers side in history by owner Charles Green, he certainly got it. They proved he was spot on.
Scorers: Rangers - Little 59 ; Annan Athletic Love 48, Hopkirk 55
Rangers crashed to one of the most humiliating results in their history as they fell to a thoroughly deserved loss to tiny Annan Athletic. That’s the same Annan who have lost four out of their past five games and were crushed 5-1 by Montrose in their last away match.
It may have been Rangers’ first home league loss of the season and they will still comfortably win the Third Division, but this was a disgraceful result against a team from a town with a population of just 8,000 inhabitants. Rangers’ lowest league crowd of the season – well, the poor fans who remained in the stadium to the bitter end – were not slow in telling McCoist exactly what they thought of this capitulation.
Two quick second-half goals from Ally Love and David Hopkirk proved too much for Rangers, who pulled a goal back through Andy Little. At no stage did they look like they were ready to equalise and Annan were deservedly clapped off the park by the Rangers fans… after they howled derision at their own team.
McCoist was understandably unhappy at his side’s display. He said: “I thought the 90 minutes was really, really poor. The players know that level of performance was unacceptable. The bottom line is the players know what is expected of them. I just told them that that is unacceptable without doubt.
“If one or two of us thought it was just a matter of turning up and someone will shake your hand and give you your SFL3 league winners’ medals, then that is certainly not the case. We never thought for a minute that would be the case and today proved that.
“I don’t know what the reason for it was, but I can guarantee you that come Monday morning we’ll all be looking over the game in detail to establish why it went wrong and what we can do to make sure it never happens again.”
Rangers were desperately poor in the first half and had only a long-range effort from Greek defender Anestis Argyriou. Annan had the better chances through David Murray and you would have expected McCoist to give his team a rocketing at the break and change things. He clearly did neither.
It was Annan who were fired up and scored twice in quick succession to absolutely stun the home crowd. Daniel Orsi’s cross from the right was behind Ally Love, but he managed to flick the ball past Alexander with a superb piece of improvisation.
Incredibly, Annan quickly doubled their advantage when Murray took advantage of a slack pass from
Chris Hegarty and his cross was bundled in at the back post by David Hopkirk who bravely scored under pressure.
Substitute Francisco Sandaza made an impact just before the hour mark when a corner dropped to him and his blocked shot spun up in the air to allow Andy Little to head home his 25th goal of the season from a couple of yards.
That should have been the signal for a Rangers cavalry charge, but with the exception of a couple of Lee McCulloch efforts that were kept out by goalkeeper Alex Mitchell, it was a nothing response.
Victorious Annan boss Jim Chapman, who guided his side to their first win since he took over earlier this year, said: “If you believe in yourself, there’s no reason why you can’t do well. It’s all credit to the players. We came with a game-plan to play positive football: I wanted them to demonstrate what they’re capable of.
“I was telling the players to keep their emotions in check, but I had to control my own emotions. It’s my first win, and there are not many teams, at any level, that will come to Ibrox and win.”
Rangers (4-3-3): Alexander; Argyriou, Cribari, Hegarty, Wallace; Naismith (Sandaza 50), Black, Hutton; Little, Shiels (McKay 34), McCulloch. Unused subs: Gallacher, Faure, Crawford.
Annan (4-4-2): Mitchell; Chisholm (Sloan 67), McNiff, Swinglehurst (Daly 90), McGowan; Orsi (Black 81, ), Jardine, Chaplain, Love; Murray, Hopkirk. Unused subs: Shepherd, Hawke.
Referee: J McKendrick. Attendance: 34,441.