Rangers suffered a 2-1 loss to Dundee at Dens Park, as the Ibrox side lost their second game in a week while the win lifted the Dark Blues off the foot of the table. Here are five things we learned...
Morelos is suffering a crisis of confidence
The Colombian striker hasn’t scored since 15 September, and his barren spell in front of goal is having an adverse effect on his all-round game.
Graeme Murty gave the forward extra target practice in training in a bid to help him return to the goal trail, after Morelos showed signs of frustration at his goal drought during the 2-0 defeat to Hamilton.
And despite being restricted to just 45 minutes against Dundee, Morelos was trying too hard to make things happen. On top of that, while he had a couple of decent efforts on goal, there were times he looked to pass when he could have and should have had a shot himself.
His collision with a post after a valiant effort to reach a Daniel Candeias cross summed up his night, and his past few matches. Unable to continue, he was replaced by Eduardo Herrera on the stroke of half time.
Unfortunately for Rangers, neither Herrera nor Ryan Hardie have shown that they have what it takes to lead the Rangers attack.
With a tricky tie at home to Aberdeen next up for Rangers, Morelos - if fit - will need to find his shooting boots if Murty’s side are to have any hope of taking something from the game.
A game of substitutions
It could be argued that the introduction of Scott Allan turned the game. The on-loan Celtic midfielder was brought on in the 79th minute for Roarie Deacon as Neil McCann tried to change things up to tip the game in Dundee’s favour.
A little over 60 seconds later, Allan had set up Mark O’Hara for the winner using one of his trademark reverse passes. It was an inspired sub from McCann and one not without its risks given Allan’s recent injury concerns.
Graeme Murty, on the other hand, was forced into replacing Morelos with Herrera, but his next change came on 84 minutes, when he brought on Ryan Hardie for Daniel Candeias. Admittedly, Candeias had had a poor second half, but Hardie has only played a handful of games for Rangers. If it was surprising to see him come off the bench against Hamilton, it was even more so to see him given a run-out against Dundee. Especially with Carlos Pena on the bench. The Mexican midfielder hasn’t been short of critics since joining in the summer for a reported fee of £2.5 million but he does know where the back of the net is, as his four goals in eight appearances proves. Murty could even have brought the pair on at the same time - with Rangers 2-1 down and needing a goal, he could have gone for broke with a double substitution.
Rangers still need to sort out their defence
As if it wasn’t bad enough for Rangers that their main source of goals appears to have dried up, the problems in the Ibrox side’s rearguard just won’t go away. Without Bruno Alves - ruled out with the back complaint that kept him out of the defeat to Hamilton - and Fabio Cardoso, who is still working his way back after sustaining a broken nose in the Betfred Cup semi final defeat to Motherwell, Murty was forced to go with Danny Wilson and Ross McCrorie in central defence. While no Ibrox defender covered themselves in glory for Dundee’s first goal, Wilson was particularly culpable as the ball ricocheted in the box before falling kindly to Mark O’Hara who lashed in the opener. The ball in from the right hadn’t been particularly hard to deal with yet wasn’t dealt with effectively.
At the second goal, it was Declan John - who had impressed up until that point - who gave O’Hara too much space in the box allowing the former Kilmarnock defender to score his and Dundee’s second. Without Bruno Alves, Rangers lack a leader at the back. Murty must be desperately hoping that Alves will be fit enough for the visit of Aberdeen in five days time.
Dundee aren’t missing Scott Bain
According to Neil McCann, Bain missed the visit of Rangers through injury, with Elliot Parish starting and Under-20s goalie Calum Ferrie on the bench, but the ongoing saga with the former Alloa stopper continues to rumble on.
The Dundee boss said before the game: “There’s an issue with Scott where he finds himself out of the side and he’s now injured. The situation is still ongoing.”
With the arrival of French ‘keeper Jeremy Malherbe on trial, it looks as though Bain’s time at Dens Park may have come to an end. Regardless of what happens with Malherbe or Bain, Dundee look to have found an able replacement in Parish. The former England Under-20 international made some important saves, most notably from Candeias in the first half, to keep Rangers at bay.
Where might Dundee be with a better final ball?
It’s been said on more than one occasion that Dundee’s performances aren’t consistent with a bottom-placed side and while they took a while to get going tonight, once they settled down they began knocking the ball about well.
Time after time they shifted the ball forwards on the counter attack only for the move to break down in the final third.
Even allowing for tricky conditions - a slippery pitch making it difficult underfoot - there were too many wayward crosses from Dundee, especially from the right hand side.
McCann will be delighted with the three points, the win moving the Dark Blues off the foot of the table at the expense of Partick Thistle, but he’ll have plenty of food for thought when his squad returns to training ahead of next Saturday’s trip to Ross County.