Craig Fowler gives his take after Rangers motor through to the final four of the Scottish Cup with a comfortable victory over Championship side Falkirk
Cummings has posed the question
What better way to put himself into contention for the game against Celtic than by going out and bagging his first career hat-trick? But will it be enough?
If Jamie Murphy proves his fitness, he probably won’t play. And even if the midfielder doesn’t, Murty may well go with a one-up-front system against the league leaders. That said, the Rangers boss did select Niko Kranjcar as the No.10 in the 0-0 draw at Celtic Park last time round, and it’s doubtful Cummings could be as unproductive a day outside the penalty area as the experienced Croat that day.
Falkirk’s defence is Jekyll and Hyde
Since Paul Hartley, pictured, took over the reins at Falkirk they haven’t been brilliant, but they’ve improved steadily and no longer look like legitimate relegation candidates, which is an improvement.
When they get a result it tends to be behind a stellar defensive performance; chalking up eight clean sheets in 21 games prior to Sunday. However, things tend to fall apart on their off-days.
You knew Sunday was always going to be one of those as soon as Cummings opened the scoring. Quite what Tom Taiwo was doing is anyone’s guess. The former Hibs player should be well aware of the striker’s prowess in front of goal - not only has he seen him do it so many times against Falkirk in the past for Hibs, they actually played together at Easter Road - and yet decided to stay back and try to intercept a cut-back which never arrived, as Cummings instead advanced and slotted home.
A punch in the nether-regions is worth a yellow
Who knew? For the second time in the space of just a few days, David Bates received an off-the-ball knock, and both times the perpetrator was let off with a booking. It’s hard to tell what’s more bizarre: the referee’s thought process - having seen the incidents surely it’s got to be a red? - or that it’s Bates who’s getting the rough treatment. Name any player in the squad who you think would irritate opposing players into lashing out and surely the plain-Jane defender ranks at the bottom? Aaron Muirhead completed his comical bad-guy turn by immediately scoring an. Their glimmer of hope would not last for long, though, as further poor defending allowed Rangers to grab a quick second. Muirhead failed to get tight enough to Cummings, allowing the striker to net again, before knocking in an own goal for Rangers’ third. Bates probably felt quite smug about that.
The Alves or Martin conundrum rolls on
Russell Martin’s mobility has been an asset to the Rangers defence. Unfortunately, he has been at fault for a number of goals in his short Rangers career, including St Johnstone’s consolation in midweek. Seeing as he had barely played this campaign before arriving at Ibrox, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Fit and back in the squad, Bruno Alves stepped into the starting XI for this one and had the opportunity to cement his place for the Celtic game. He didn’t. He looked rusty and conceded a number of needless fouls in his own half.
Even when Celtic aren’t at their best there is a lot of firepower in the squad. This decision, more so than the Cummings one, will be crucial come next Sunday.
Jakubiak is a talented boy
The on loan striker has helped inject life into Falkirk’s miserable season following his January move, including netting five goals in four February games. Going against top flight defenders, it was intriguing to see how he’d handle the step up. While he didn’t take the game by storm, he can be pleased with his contribution. In the opening 30 minutes he looked Falkirk’s most dangerous attacker, using his quick feet and power to drive the team forward. In the end, the game became somewhat of a walk in the park for the home side with Jakubiak an isolated figure, though he stuck to his task dutifully.