CHARLES GREEN may be gone, but the ghost of the Yorkshireman lingered around Ibrox yesterday as Peterhead just about proved his theory that this is the worst team in Rangers’ history was spot on.
Scorers: Rangers - McCulloch 12; Peterhead - Ross 23; McAllister 56
The Gers may have long since been crowned Third Division champions, but they looked like they were already on their holidays as they were deservedly defeated by Jim McInally’s team. Despite Lee McCulloch giving them the lead, Scott Ross and the excellent Rory McAllister gave Peterhead their first ever victory at Ibrox and handed Ally McCoist’s men their third league defeat of the season.
After the seismic events of Friday, when Green announced his departure after his 11 turbulent months at the club, this defeat was almost an afterthought, but it left a huge crowd at Ibrox furious at another abject display from their side.
Rangers were able to reunite their potent strike force of Andy Little and McCulloch, who have netted 50 goals between them this season, after the Northern Ireland international recovered from his knee injury. That total would soon rise.
It became 51 in the 12th minute following a Peterhead gift. Dean Cowie was short with his passback to former Rangers keeper Graeme Smith and McCulloch nipped in. Smith was able to get a hand to the ball, but it squirmed from his grasp and the Rangers skipper was able to spin round and lash the ball high into the empty net.
Peterhead at least responded well and McAllister and Jamie Redman both cracked shots at goal in a bid to level matters, but the home side looked dangerous every time they ventured up the park, which was frequently. McCulloch very nearly added a second goal when he collected Kyle Hutton’s pass, rounded Smith and struck the post from an acute angle.
However, the Balmoor outfit were level in the 23rd minute when they took advantage of Rangers’ Achilles’ heel this season – their inability to defend set pieces. David Cox’s corner from the right was met at the far post by Ross, who nodded past Neil Alexander into the net.
Undeterred, Rangers rattled the woodwork again soon after when McCulloch threaded in David Templeton with just Smith to beat, but the former Hearts winger hit the post when it seemed easier to score.
The game was becoming increasingly volatile and referee Euan Norris had to book three players – Peterhead’s Ryan Strachan, Cox and Rangers’ Ian Black after a flare-up before the break.
That suited the visitors though against the out-of-sorts champions and they took a 56th minute lead, which was just about merited. McAllister collected Andy Rogers’ pass and found space for a shot away from the challenge of defender Sebastien Faure and struck a superb effort into the far corner of the net.
Peterhead defender Graeme Sharp saved his side when sub Kal Naismith’s corner was deflected towards goal, but the right-back bundled the ball clear on the line. Smith then made a fabulous fingertip save in injury time to prevent McCulloch from equalising as the Blue Toon side celebrated a famous win.
Rangers: Alexander; Mitchell, Hegarty (Gasparotto 77), Faure, Wallace; Templeton (Stony 69), Black, Hutton, Aird (Naismith 58); McCulloch, Little. Subs: Smith, Crawford.
Peterhead: G Smith; Sharp, Ross, R Smith, Noble; Cox (Gilfinnan 63, ), Redman, Cowie (McCann 63), Strachan, Rogers (McGlinchey 80); McAllister.. Subs: Jarvie, Fitzgerald
Referee: E Norris. Attendance: 43,961.