Rangers-Hearts reaction: One of the departing will return; Cantwell’s stonking output; 20-year low avoided
One of the departing will return
There naturally seemed a finality underpinning the guard of honour departing Rangers players Allan McGregor, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent, Scott Arfield and Filip Helander were given by their team-mates at full-time. A tribute that gave way to the cascading of choruses in their honour as they made their way round the pitch to share a love-in with the Rangers support.
Yet the very next time Michael Beale men’s take to the pitch at Ibrox, McGregor will be the recipient of shows of appreciation. The 40-year-old keeper’s tough exterior seemed to crack as he choked up in a Sky interview as he reflected on his last competitive appearance for a club with whom his professional associations began more than two decades ago. No wonder after two spells in which he played 504 times, claimed 13 major honours and proved himself one of the finest exponents of his trade Scotland has ever produced.
It is right and proper then he has earned himself a testimonial. And, judging by his reaction last night, he might want to pack hankies in his gloves bag when he no doubt captains Rangers against Newcastle United on July 18 in that benefit game that will also serve as a first look at the new-look Rangers Michael Beale will be fusing together with the extensive summer overhaul heralded by the farewells to the Rangers five. Or in McGregor’s case more the au revior for now.
Cantwell’s stonking output
The irresistible impact Todd Cantwell has made at Rangers must have the club’s faithful feeling like a prayer has been answered. The 25-year-old Englishman is an epicentre performer of the like that the Ibrox team have had in short supply in more recent times. An action man who forever seems to be in the thick of it…whether that is on the scoring or scrapping front.
Now, in this meaningless closing stretch of the season, form - individually and collectively - can typically be considered to offer few pointers. It feels different with Cantwell because he has only one mode: full throttle. Well for the fray anyway. In front of goal it is a different story and this combo is what makes him a player of such promise for Michael Beale’s men going into next season.
The sang froid he exhibited to tuck away his fourth goal in as many games in the draw with Hearts took his tally in Rangers colours to six in only 19 appearances since his January switch from Norwich City. In addition, he has contributed no fewer than five assists. Owing to a couple of substitute outings in that total, he has produced a goal action roughly every 60 minutes. A stonking output that maes him an attacker worthy of the name.
His calmness in beating Zander Clark last night was in contrast to his frenetic scamping around the pitch and, as they say in football circles, getting in faces. A combative approach that has earned him seven yellow cards. Yet, that should not be framed in the negative but merely be recognised as what ensues from him putting everything into his endeavours. He plays on the edge and that what has allowed him to bring an edge to Rangers’ in the final third.
20-year low avoided
Hearts may have proved powerless at Ibrox to keep alive hopes of a third place Premiership finish that is highly likely to offer guaranteed European group stage football. However, there was the meagriest mercy on the night. Lawrence Shankland popping up with his 28th goal of the season only 50 seconds into the 2-2 draw - which the Tynecastle men ending uo bookending with goals courtesy of Garang Koul netting with the final kick - spared them an unwanted distinction.
Having lost all three meetings to Rangers without scoring in the lead up to the clubs’ final meeting this season, had they concluded in the same vein it would have marked the first time in two decades they had suffered such a whitewash, scoring blank against the Ibrox men.
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