Forfar 0-1 Rangers: Lacklustre Gers make it six
Rangers gained a measure of revenge on Forfar for their League Cup defeat last month by making it six wins in a row in their League One campaign.
Scorer: Little 43
Referee: J McKendrick
But it was a below-par display by Ally McCoist’s men, who can consider themselves highly fortunate to have taken the three points.
The Ibrox side suffered a major embarrassment when Dick Campbell’s men stunned them in the cup at the start of the season at Station Park. And they came close yesterday to repeating that giant-killing feat by causing Rangers all kinds of problems on their plastic pitch.
Andy Little netted the game’s only goal just before the break but Forfar – inspired by their 37-year-old former Rangers defender, Marvin Andrews – came mighty close to grabbing at least an equaliser, with Rangers completely failing to adapt to the gusty conditions and the surface.
Rangers were booed off at the end by plenty of their supporters, unhappy at their timid display, and McCoist had no complaints about their displeasure in the performance. He said: “I wasn’t happy with the performance and I agree with the fans. We told the players that. But I can sympathise with the players because of the wind.
“As disappointed as we all are with the performance, I would certainly cut the players some slack because of it. The conditions played a massive part in the way the game was played and, sadly for the fans, there wasn’t a lot of good football. It was the wind… it was horrendous and all over the place. You saw the amount of times the ball either hung up or went flying forward.
“It didn’t help the flow of the game and didn’t help either of us pass the ball. When you have conditions like that you have to adapt to them. Both teams attempted to do that as best they could.
“I thought we had the better chances but Forfar still had a threat, particularly late in the second half. They had big Marvin up there winning headers like he has for his whole career. But we knew it would be tough coming here. We didn’t need a reminder and got the game we exactly expected. Forfar were spirited and very professional, so we’re delighted to go back down the road with the three points.
“We probably won’t have to earn another three points like that this season. That was as competitive a fixture as we’ve had in a long, long time. I’ll watch the game again but I’m not sure we would have won this a year ago. It’s going to be a long, hard season and nothing had changed from that.”
The Angus side started better and should have taken a fifth-minute lead when Omar Kader ballooned Gavin Swankie’s intelligent cutback over the bar when off balance.
It was a sluggish opening by the visitors, full of misplaced passes and they again appeared to be struggling to adapt to the plastic pitch and never really improved as the game progressed.
Slowly, though, Rangers started to get into the game and forced a succession of corners, which caused Forfar goalkeeper Darren Hill plenty of problems with a swirling wind.
From one of those, the ball dropped to Lee McCulloch, who saw his effort cleared off the line by Andrews as he almost added to his seven goals in his last three games.
McCulloch and his central defensive partner Bilel Mohsni were being given plenty of problems at the other end, though, by the giant figure of Chris Templeman, who was relishing the physical battle.
But the Ibrox side took the lead out of nothing just before the break. Darren Dods was sloppy with a pass out of defence and David Templeton played in Little to dink the ball past Hill into the net and give Rangers a half-time lead which they scarcely deserved.
Dale Hilson nearly hauled the home side level right after the break when he easily swept past Richard Foster before cracking a dipping effort that was only just too high.
The striker then nearly took advantage of appalling defending by Rangers when Mohsni allowed a high ball to drift over his head and Hilson again brushed off Foster, but lobbed the ball over Bell and wide of target.
Hill saved Forfar 12 minutes into the second half with a fine save after Little had picked out Jon Daly inside the box and the ex-Dundee United man should have done better than his tame effort.
Rangers almost paid for that in the 63rd minute when Templeman somehow headed Campbell’s corner wide right in front of the target.
Nicky Law nearly made the game secure after good build-up play between Daly and Little and the former Motherwell midfielder was desperately unlucky to see his clipped shot drift inches over the bar.
Templeton was having a miserable game and never seemed to get to grips with the surface, but he kept Rangers ahead in the 74th minute after a corner fell to Dods, whose stabbed shot was booted clear by the former Hearts winger on the line.
Despite throwing Dods and Andrews up the park in the closing stages in search of an equaliser, Forfar couldn’t get the leveller, much to the frustration of their assistant manager Ian Campbell.
“The goal we lost wasn’t acceptable, not at any level of football. But I thought we played well and are disappointed not to take something from the game,” said Campbell.
“Our finishing and set-pieces were not good enough. I don’t think Rangers created a lot of chances. We coped with them pretty well.”
Forfar Athletic: Hill, McCabe, Andrews, Dods, Baxter, Kader (Ross Campbell 60), Dale (McManus 80),Hilson, Iain Campbell, Swankie,Templeman (Malin 65). Subs Not Used: Douglas, Malcolm, Fusco, Gray.
Rangers: Bell, Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace, Little, Peralta, Law, Steven Smith (Faure 81), Templeton (McKay 83), Daly. Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Clark, Crawford, Emilson Cribari, Shiels.