Pyrotechnic poser for Neil Doncaster following guilty pleasure smoke bomb display
Rangers’ trip to Livingston proved the game with which the cinch Premiership season kicked off because of its Saturday lunchtime scheduling. As a result, essentially took only a mere 80 seconds of the campaign for a possible test of SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster’s eve-of-the-season pledge that “unacceptable” fan behaviour would be “punished severely”. A consequence of referee Don Robertson being forced to halt play in the second minute when a smoke bomb display behind the goal that Livingston were defending in the first period led to the area becoming obliterated by the pyrotechnic fug.
Now, from a health and safety point of view, smoke bombs and flares are no-nos – two supporters were injured by them at this very fixture three years ago, indeed. Moreover, their widespread use by Scottish supporters is utterly juvenile. Has to be confessed, though, the red arrows-style red, white and blue plumes infusing into a pea-souper fog at Almondvale was something of a guilty pleasure yesterday in creating an incredibly atmospheric scene.
Starting prospects of Allan McGregor and John Souttar in Champions League
Maybe we were guilty of reading too much into Jon McLaughlin being selected in goal by Giovanni van Bronckhorst for Rangers for the club’s West Lothian. It was taken as an indication he is likely to get the nod ahead Allan McGregor for Tuesday’s Champions League third qualifying round first leg away to Union Saint-Gilloise. The Dutchman has been coy on the matter. However, it could well have been the case that, at 40-years-old, the ageing limbs of McGregor were spared the punishing plastic pitch.
Maybe, too, we were too harsh on John Souttar in believing his wretched competitive debut could see him eased out of the Rangers side in midweek. Yet, his rag-dolling by Joel Nouble - not just in being most at fault for the forward’s goal, but throughout his appearance - and apparent discomfort at operating as a left-sided central defender, doesn’t bode well. Neither does the fact that James Sands cut an altogether more unfussed figure when he replaced Souttar in 67 minutes.
VAR could result in day-night games
Only little over months now till VAR is introduced into the Scottish top flight, apparently. Billed in some quarters as like all our game’s Christmases coming at once, it could turn out to be a present that results in buyer’s remorse. So much in the Scottish game is deemed contentious, VAR checks could stretch games interminably. Not that it isn’t long overdue, whatever issues may ensue. However, just consider Rangers’ 2-1 victory at Almondvale. There was a general belief that Philip Cancar should have received a second yellow for a crude challenge on Scott Wright. Livingston manager David Martindale countered that by maintaining Glen Kamara should have walked after the Rangers midfielder pulled back Scott Pittman when he had earlier been booked. Rangers striker Antonio Colak might, just might – it wasn’t entirely clear cut – have been wrongly flagged for offside when he headed in shortly after the interval. And there didn’t seem to be any infringement in the moment that Livingston defender Ayo Obileye had the ball in the net for Livingston late on, despite Robertson blowing an instant before it crossed the line for an apparent push by Sean Kelly on Connor Goldson. Prepare for VAR interventions to be never-ending, folks.