Another Rangers Fiasco
this afternoon, drawing 1-1 with Falkirk in a game
where the SPL Champions were far from impressive.
There must now be real concern within the Ibrox
portals about the forthcoming Champions' League
fixtures, for on recent form the Light Blues are in
for a torrid time.
Rangers' inaugural visit to Westfield, to the Falkirk
Stadium, saw only Sotirios Kyrgiakos of the new
signings in the starting line-up while Francis Jeffers
had to be content with a place on the bench. Hamed
Namouchi was a welcome return from injury and on from
the start. Manager Alex McLeish made two changes from
the catastrophic defeat at home to Hibernian with Alex
Rae and Steven Thompson dropping out. Marvin Andrews,
back from International duty with Trinidad and Tobago,
was also a substitute, but there was no sign of his
national colleague Russell Latapy in the home ranks.
It has been all of 34 years since Rangers lost a
League fixture to Falkirk - at the old Brockville on
New Year's Day 1971, to be exact, when what was
virtually an Ibrox reserve side went down 1-3 to a
home side that contained both Alex Ferguson and Andy
Roxburgh (a goalscorer on that occasion).
The visitors were the first to threaten, Thomas Buffel
shooting wide from a Dado Prso head-flick in eleven
Falkirk were playing a holding game, yet almost caught
Rangers on the counter-attack in 35 minutes when
Steven Thomson's long ball found Alan Gow clear on
goal, only for Ronald Waterreus to deny him.
Two minutes later Rangers were ahead when Nacho Novo
converted a penalty after Craig Ireland had fouled
It should have been 2-0 in 39 minutes when Buffel
headed home a Barry Ferguson cross only for the goal
to be disallowed on the say-so of a linesman's flag by
official Gary Sweeney.
It had been a less than impressive first-half, yet
Alex McLeish somehow decided that in introducing
newcomer Francis Jeffers in 56 minutes he would
replace the influential and intelligent Buffel.
The former Arsenal and Everton striker almost made an
impact within six minutes, his volley from a Ferguson
lay-off being blocked by home goalkeeper Matt Glennon.
Rangers were well on top, with Jeffers' movement up
front adding a new dimension in attack and Falkirk
scarcely able to break out of their own half, yet the
introduction of home substitutes Daniel McBreen and
former Ranger Darryl Duffy in seventy minutes would
change the course of the game, their pace causing all
manner of problems to the Ibrox defence.
The equaliser when it came six minutes later followed
a refereeing blunder by Craig Mackay, who awarded a
free-kick to Falkirk for a foul against Kyrgiakos, who
had clearly won the ball in a fair tackle. A
quickly-taken free-kick found Alan Gow wide on the
left, his cross being headed home by McBreen after,
with the Greek still protesting his innocence to the
official, Julien Rodriguez failed to cut out his
Rangers piled on the pressure in the closing stages,
Jeffers seeing his shot from a Peter Lovenkrands cross
being held by Glennon in 81 minutes, then sixty
seconds later the goalkeeper produced a superb save to
keep out Ferguson's eighteen-yard piledriver.
Time ran out on the SPL Champions however, and
afterwards Alex McLeish was brutally
frank in his assessment:
"I'm extremely disappointed. I take nothing away from
Falkirk, but today was not an acceptable performance
as far as Rangers are concerned."
On today's evidence, and indeed that of the League
campaign thus far, many may well be wondering whether
Rangers will qualify for Europe at all next season,
far less the Champions' League.
FALKIRK Glennon; Lawrie, Ireland, Rodrigues, Milne
(McBreen 70); Ross (McPherson 33), Lima, Scally S.
Thomson, O'Donnell (Duffy 70); Gow
UNUSED SUBS Hill, A. Thomson, McStay, Moutinho
RANGERS Waterreus; Fanfan, Kyrgiakos, Rodriguez,
Murray; Novo, Ricksen, Ferguson, Namouchi (Lovenkrands
80); Buffel (Jeffers 56), Prso
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Andrews, A. Rae, Smith, McCormack
REFEREE Craig Mackay