Back to Ibrox this evening for the Premier sports cup Quarter-final versus Livingston. Huge chance to reach Hampden and first push towards domestic silverware. Of course cup competition has alluded us somewhat under this management, so this has to be an opportunity to fix that.
Livingston will be on a crest of a wave with their rather welcomed and impressive victory on Sunday. I always felt it was a matter of time before their results started coming so that wasn’t a huge surprise and they will be on a high from that.
Plenty of recognisable names from a Rangers perspective, Ben Williamson our young loanee does miss out as he can’t play against his parent club, but former players Jason Holt and Andrew Shinnie do start.
Rangers make some changes which is expected for a cup game and also as we search for form. Jonathan McLaughlin is back in goals, Calvin Bassey and Nathan Patterson are installed as full backs. Leon Balogun and Connor Goldson, captain for the evening, make up the rest of the defence. Four changes from Sunday from the back five is always a risk especially as we search for consistency.
In the middle, John Lundstram comes in and I am expecting a strong performance from him and I expect him to anchor the midfield. Glenn Kamara and Joe Aribo partner him either side, I expect Aribo will be given licence to get forward and on Sunday his expected goals (XG) was 1.96 so I am hoping for a bit more ruthlessness from him this evening.
Up top and Alfredo Morelos starts once more, Scott Wright and Kemar Roofe play either side. I’m tipping Alfredo to fire this evening and get back on the scoresheet, we really need him too so this is the game where he does it for me.
So we are all set for an intriguing match, Rangers will be looking for a more complete performance and take the opening 60 mins of Sunday into this evening. Livingston are dangerous and will play on the break and to contain, so we need to be on it.
Hampden awaits as does an expectant Ibrox.
First half action
7 mins – CHANCE! Patterson interchange with Morelos and he’s in on the keeper who spreads himself to keep it out, that was a chance.
17 mins – Goldson goes long and Wright is in, he completely misses the ball and the chance is gone.
21 mins – CHANCE! Goldson again long and is on point, Bassey is in and cuts back on his right foot to fire well over.
35 mins – Morelos across goal and well defended as Roofe hovered, Patterson again down right and his cross is saved by the GK.
39 mins – Break by Kamara and he drags a shot wide.
Summary – Dismal and uninspiring. This isn’t the Rangers of last season, it’s miles off it. Uninspiring, slow and lack of any tempo. The front three, including Morelos and horrifically off it, offering very little.
Best chances have come from the runs of the full backs so that is at least something but this Rangers team need a boot right up the arse for want of a better expression.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes at half time, Sakala, Bacuna and Hagi all options. Certain players look like they are going through the motions, Alfredo Morelos for one and that is hugely frustrating.
Needs a big second half and we desperately need to get a tempo going.
Second half action
Half time sub – Ianis Hagi on for Scott Wright.
47 mins – GOAL! Kemar Roofe opens the scoring as he fires home. Lundstram wins it on the turnover and releases Hagi who digs it across for Roofe to fire home – Instant impact from Hagi! 1-0.
52 mins – Balogun heads wide after good work from Hagi again.
53 mins – Morelos wins it and turns to fire in a shot which was tipped over.
57 mins – CHANCE! Should be two as a poor pass from Fitzwater is intercepted by Alfredo who slides Roofe in, he fires at the gk and should do better! 1-0.
61 mins – CHANCE! Hagi is wiped out but play continues as Aribo drives forward, his ball across is stabbed at goal and well saved from Roofe
64 mins – GOAL! It’s a second from Alfredo! Howler by Strycek whose clearance goes straight to Morelos who takes a touch cuts inside and fires home! 2-0.
Much more like it, better tempo and aggression.
70 mins – CHANGE – Morelos goes off and on is Juninho Bacuna.
75 mins – CHANCE! Goldson header is well saved after a decent Tavernier corner, should have scored for number 3.
77 mins – CHANGES – Joe Aribo and Kemar Roofe off, Scott Arfield and Fashion Sakala on.
FULL TIME Rangers 2 Livingston 0
SUMMARY – A game of two 45’s which were extremely different! First half was slow and lacked tempo. The second the exact opposite. Moved it a lot better, passing faster and introduction of Ianis Hagi made the difference, he played between the lines and immediately got involved.
The second half was enjoyable to watch, better tempo and better football. Lots of chances and opportunities whilst being solid at the other side.
Jon McLaughlin didn’t have a save to make which highlights when we do play with tempo then we are more than capable. We looked more like our old selves in the second half.
The object now will be to take that into the whole game on Saturday and get that more complete performance. But that second was much more like it.
On to Hampden and job done.
Full time Rangers 2 Livingston 0