Rangers manager Ally McCoist admits he has a defensive headache approaching after both his centre-halves picked up suspensions during the nervy 2-1 win over Brechin on Saturday.
Bilel Mohsni was sent off after collecting a needless second yellow card for booting the ball against Hedgemen defender Gerry McLauchlan after conceding a free-kick. Then skipper Lee McCulloch also put himself over the disciplinary threshold for an injury-time foul on Bobby Barr. The duo will both be available for the club’s Scottish Cup clash with Dunfermline on Friday, but sit out the League One clash at Ayr United in a fortnight.
“It gives us a headache,” admitted McCoist. “It will give us a problem. After Bilel was sent off, we moved Sebastien Faure into centre-back and Ricky Foster came on at right-back, but we didn’t look particular comfortable. I’d be hopeful that was down to the fact we were down to 10 men, but those final few minutes have given us some food for thought.”
Rangers looked like they were cruising to victory 25 minutes in after goals from Dean Shiels and Jon Daly put them two up, but Steven Robb halved the deficit for the Glebe Park men with a 25-yard strike before Mohsni’s dismissal introduced an air of panic to the hosts’ display. They were forced to cling on in a frantic final ten minutes that ended with the Glasgow giants being booed off by the home support.
However, McCoist hopes the match will provide his misfiring side – 23 points clear at the top of the table but hardly inspiring since the turn of the year – with a wake-up call.
The said: “Games like Saturday do keep us on our toes.
“If you look back to the Stranraer game when they equalised in the 95th minute, it shows what can happen. Brechin got a free-kick on the edge of the box late on and I was thinking, ‘Is it going to be one of these days?’.
“It was a strange afternoon. After the first 45 minutes, you definitely wouldn’t have seen the last five where we were hanging on coming.
“The pressure of playing in front of a big crowd at Ibrox is not something that is new. It might come as a surprise to you, but I used to get a bit of stick myself when I was playing.
“It’s just a matter of handling it. You need to take it on your shoulders and keep taking the ball. You need to keep doing the things that got you here in the first place, because it’s a great place to play.
“It’s the best place to play, but it can be a difficult place to play. You have to stand up, but I don’t have any doubts that the boys will do that.”
Rangers have conceded just 11 league goals all season, but five of them have now been scored by Brechin and their manager, Ray McKinnon, was satisfied with his side’s performance.
“We have got a bit of firepower in our team,” he said. “We definitely cause teams problems and have now scored five against Rangers this season.
“That is no mean feat because they are a formidable team.”