Rangers tonight welcome the usual tough and organised challenge of Livingston. We sit 4 points clear at the top of the league, progress achieved in Europa League and Scottish cup banked for later in the campaign, so all focus is on this evening’s fixture and staying ahead in this title race.
Livingston are always difficult and well organised, they will sit in and then be expansive on the break, which has served them well. Rangers have the additional challenge of missing some vital players with Ryan Kent suspended, Alfredo Morelos on international duty and Joe Aribo only just back yesterday from AFCON. Scott Arfield and Ryan Jack all return to the squad and with Kemar Roofe also fit and Filip Helander close to his return, things aren’t all bad.
So it will be up to others in the squad, as well as existing players, to ensure Rangers achieve maximum points. With that comes opportunity for the likes of Fashion Sakala and Scott Wright for example, whilst Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten also come into contention this evening. Rangers do have options and whilst it will be a difficult task I expect we will take the game to Livingston.
We have been strong under Gio at home and very much like to push onto teams so, as ever when facing the low block, I suspect this will be the game plan thus evening.
Plenty of changes from the cup team as Allan McGregor returns to Goals. James Tavernier captains the side, whilst Borna Barisic is at left back. Calvin Bassey and Connor Goldson are in the centre of defence.
James Sands partners Glen Kamara with a first start for Alex Lowry in what is a big night for the youngster. Scott Wright, Fashion Sakala and Cedric Itten make up the attack. Roofe, Arfield and Ryan Jack are amongst the subs, there is no Leon Balogun or Joe Aribo.
This is a big test for the team and club with a weakened selection, no Morelos, kent, Hagi, Aribo and the soon to depart Bacuna means we are thin on the ground.
Big performance needed….
First half Action
3 mins – Good run by Sakala and Lowry shot straight at GK.
Mistake from McGregor presents Bailey with a shot who also hits straight at GK.
25 mins – Scott Wright finds space down the right and his shot is cleared off the line as GK was beaten.
32 mins – CAUTION 📒 Connor Goldson for a tug on Anderson, context of game that is very soft.
33 mins – CHANCE! Brilliant from Lowry who twists and steps in box to play it across and no one there to finish, Itten has to gamble but he doesn’t and is on his heels.
39 mins – CHANCE! Lovely move by Rangers as it’s worked from left to right, Tavernier brilliantly creates an opening and his cross is perfect for Sakala who’s effort is cleared by the CB and GK combined. Corner is headed over by Goldson.
42 mins – Goldson scoops over a Barisic corner.
RANGERS 0 LIVI 0 HT
Half time summary
It’s hard work for Rangers in terrible conditions and not much creativity on the park. Obvious any team would miss Kent, Aribo, Hagi and Morelos but it’s even more obvious here with this side who have tried but lack creativity.
Few chances but big ones for Itten and Sakala which lacked a sharp finish, we should be ahead but equally whilst 0-0 Livi are always dangerous.
Big second half needed and for a squad that’s struggling we need to somehow dig deep. If you want to win titles then big performances are required, we need a big 45mins this second half.
Second half action
47 mins – Bright start and Itten heads wide a Tavernier cross.
55 mins – CHANCE! Tavernier forward pass and Sakala touch is on point, he spins but shoots straight at GK.
59 mins – Substitutions – OFF Cedric Itten & James Sands ON Kemar Roofe and Scott Arfield.
62 mins – CAUTION 📒 Longridge cautioned for clumsy tackle on Wright.
67mins – Brilliant from Fashion who plays across goal and wright wasteful as blazes high and wide. Moments later he sclafs a shot wide and it’s poor from him.
71 mins – CHANCE! Made by Fashion Sakala as he powers on goal and his shot is tipped over, brilliant effort.
75 mins – GOAAAALLLL! YESSSS!!! Brilliant by Fashion who plays on Borna and his cross is brilliantly flicked and loops in by Scotty Arfield! What a goal!!! 1-0 Rangers!
86 mins – CHANCE! Livi play a cross in and Obileye in front of Bassey but missed the chance. 1-0
FT RANGERS 1 LIVINGSTON 0
Full time report
Huge win for Rangers considering the players we were missing this evening. Players had to dig deep and we did to get that win. I said we needed a big performance and we got it.
It took a moment of magic from Rangers and the goal was lovely. The lively Sakala set up Barisic who got to the byeline he drilled a cross which Scott Arfield flicked on and it looped over Stryjek and in much to the relief of Everyone.
Fashion Sakala produced a brilliant second half and was rightly man of the match. We needed someone to step up and he did brilliantly to help the team.
We need players back and an arrival would help the squad also but obviously it has to be right. As for tonight, it’s job done and can’t help but feel that is a huge win in such difficult circumstances.
Well done Rangers.
Stadium Man of the match – Fashion Sakala
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