Rangers get a wake-up call ahead of Dundee United tie

Montrose keeper John Gibson clutches the ball under pressure from Andrew Little. Picture: SNS
Montrose keeper John Gibson clutches the ball under pressure from Andrew Little. Picture: SNS
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DAVID Templeton admits Rangers must quickly learn the lessons from Saturday’s draw against Montrose before they face Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

The Ibrox club blew the chance to move 22 points clear at the top of the Irn-Bru Third Division when they were hit by a late sucker punch at Ibrox. They now face one of their toughest games of the season when they travel to Tannadice this coming Saturday for the fifth-round tie.

Templeton said: “If we do get chances like we did in this game, we have to take them. Dundee United are a strong side and we can’t give them any chances near the end of the game, because they will punish us.

“They’ve got some very good players, such as Johnny Russell and, if we give him any chances, I’m pretty sure he will punish us. We will have to be a lot better defensively and make sure we cut out our mistakes.”

Much controversy has surrounded the United clash, after Rangers opted against taking their ticket allocation following calls for a boycott of the fixture by fans. But, despite the setback against Montrose, Templeton says the challenge is one the players are relishing as they seek to replicate their impressive Scottish Communities League Cup win over Motherwell earlier in the season.

The winger added: “It’s one all the boys are looking forward to. We will have to work hard this week and make sure we are ready for it.

“When Motherwell came here, it was one of the best performances we’ve had this season so, hopefully, we can step up and play better next week.”

The clash between Rangers and Montrose was the only Third Division fixture to survive the weather conditions. But the hosts’ hopes of putting further daylight between themselves and the rest of the teams were shattered when a superb last-gasp strike by David Gray cancelled out John Crawford’s own goal.

Rangers had made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time when Templeton unleashed a left-foot shot that appeared to be directed into the back of his own net by Crawford under pressure from Little. But, late on, Gray stunned the majority of the 46,273 crowd with a 25-yard strike that found the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Templeton said: “We had three or four clear-cut chances but I think that’s been the difference recently. We’re just not taking those chances and killing teams off. It’s coming back to haunt us at the end of the game.

“We were trying to get that second goal. They got the chance to counter and I gave the ball away, which was poor from me. The boy scored a world-class goal and it’s sore to take. We sort of deserved it in the end for not taking those chances that we created.”

Rangers left the pitch to the sound of jeers, and afterwards manager Ally McCoist was furious with his players’ performance. “I was booing myself. I’m probably as angry as I’ve ever been as manager with that performance,” said McCoist. “I’m not even interested in the wonder goal with a couple of minutes to go. You could see it coming, you could absolutely see it coming.

“Our overall performance was not good enough and our standard of finishing was probably worse.”

Asked if his players switching off was the problem, McCoist said: “I don’t know. But I tell you what, they better switch on kind of quick or they will be completely switched off.

“What I’m saying is, that level of performance can’t, and won’t, be tolerated. It seems a bit bizarre saying that when they’ve only had two draws in 14 games but, at the same time, the supporters deserve a better level of performance than what they got today.”

McCoist was unwilling to use the absence of injured skipper Lee McCulloch as an excuse for the poor display. “It’s too simple to say that,” he said.

“That team we put out there today, regardless of the result, should be performing at a higher standard.”

Gray was thrown into the action with 25 minutes to go and Montrose manager Stuart Garden was thrilled with his contribution. He said: “I told him to go and make an impact, and he certainly did that. David has done well and he was a bit unlucky to be left out and he was disappointed to be left out. I told him that’s the type of character we need at the club – somebody who is going to come on and make an impact.”

Asked if he regarded the result at Ibrox as a shock, Garden said: “Everybody will do. Not many teams get points here. It is very hard because they are a good quality side. But we’ve been doing well recently and we came down here hoping to get something.”