IF the latest twist in this Rangers saga sends them into administration for a second time, the football department is entitled to be mighty aggrieved.
Scorers: Rangers - Zaliukas 27; Templeton 46; Mohsni 64; Miller 86; Queen of the South - Reilly 22 Russell 36
They could doubtless play a lot better at times, but when it comes to getting the job done, they are more or less fulfilling their side of the bargain.
There was further evidence of their shortcomings at Ibrox yesterday when their slack defence allowed an injury-hit Queen of the South side to lead twice, including 2-1 at half-time, but the introduction of David Templeton, and later Kenny Miller, inspired them to a deserved victory.
Miller’s first goal since rejoining Rangers in the summer was the last of three second-half counters that overshadowed a couple of red-card protests in the 18th and 72nd minute. The demonstrations were in response to Friday’s news that, if the club’s share issue is not successful, “the future of the company will be uncertain”.
Angry at what he described as “inexcusable” first-half defending, Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, hauled off the hapless Marius Zaliukas, and was much happier with what followed, but not as happy as he was with the overall focus of his players.
“If they wanted an excuse, or to look over the shoulder for an issue or two, there have been massive opportunities to do that,” said McCoist. “But they haven’t. They are a fantastic squad of boys. I do salute them for concentrating their efforts 100 per cent on getting the job done, winning games and hopefully entertaining the support at the same time. We are extremely grateful they are doing that.”
The first demo served to enliven a desperately poor opening quarter, although it was Queens who were first to take advantage. Neither side had looked remotely like troubling their opponents’ goalkeeper until Danny Carmichael dashed down the right and stretched Rangers’ back four. When he squared the ball inside, Gavin Reilly had the time and space to take a touch before slotting it low past Steve Simonsen.
The breakthrough persuaded Rangers to give themselves a shake. Within seconds, Nicky Clark and Kris Boyd each got shots away, and within five minutes, their team were level. Darren McGregor rose at the back post to meet Lewis Macleod’s free-kick, but his effort came back off the goalkeeper’s legs. When the rebound bounced only as far as Zaliukas, the defender looped a header under the crossbar.
There was a brief period of Rangers pressure in which Boyd’s angled shot struck the goalkeeper’s legs, and Lee McCulloch pulled one wide, but the home side were far too lax at the back to press forward with any confidence. The yawning gaps between their defenders invited punishment, which duly arrived eight minutes before the interval. When Carmichael knocked it forward, Reilly turned Zaliukas much too easily before setting up Russell to his left. With not a soul so much as closing him down, he planted it into the bottom right corner of the net.
It might have been worse for Rangers had Derek Lyle not dragged a shot wide, which prompted McCoist to take action at the interval. Off went Zaliukas and Arnold Peralta, replaced by Ian Black and Templeton, the consequence of which was that Lee McCulloch retreated to central defence.
Within a minute of the restart, the double substitution paid off. When Boyd got a sniff of goal just outside the box, he thought of a shot, but opted instead for a ball wide to Templeton. As the winger collected, the full-back slipped and the opportunity to shoot presented itself. Templeton took advantage with the sweetest of left-foot strikes.
That set the tone for the second half, which belonged to Rangers. Macleod had a couple of shots, and Nicky Law dragged one wide before the home side took the lead for the first time. Bilel Mohsni’s header , from a corner by Law, seemed to lack the necessary power, but it squirmed under the goalkeeper’s body.
Templeton gave another dimension to Rangers’ advances, but when he went off injured near the end, it was the arrival of Miller that settled the outcome. McCulloch’s long ball was flicked on by Boyd, teeing up the substitute for a shot that went in off the goalkeeper’s hand.
Rangers: Simonsen; McGregor, Zaliukas (Black 46), Mohsni, Wallace, Peralta (Templeton 46; Miller 85), McCulloch, Law, Macleod, Boyd, Clark.
Queen of the South: Clark; Dowie, Durnan, Higgins, Holt, Carmichael, Kidd, Dzierzawski, Russell, Lyle (Smith 71), Reilly (Baird 65).
Referee: S McLean. Attendance: 31,851.