McLeish Blunders Cost Rangers Dear
they crashed to their second successive defeat this
evening - 0-2 at the hands of Aberdeen.
An appalling first-half proved costly to the Ibrox men
- with serious and searching questions to be asked
over Manager Alex McLeish's team selection and
tactics, astonishingly making just the one change from
Saturday's debacle with Thomas Buffel unbelievably
relegated to the substitute's bench to make way for
A bitterly cold evening awaited the legions of
Rangers' fans who travelled to the Granite City with
flurries of snow adding to the wintry scene. There
were huge gaps in the home support, but in the
visitors' section one banner proclaimed 'Murray Out' -
and it certainly wasn't Ian to whom they were
Aberdeen were on top from the opening minutes with
former Ranger Barry Nicholson creating havoc down the
right - his thirteenth minute cross being headed wide
by Jamie Smith.
Three minutes later Nicholson, in acres of space, sent
over another cross that flashed across the face of
Rangers finally mustered an attack worthy of the name
on twenty minutes when Bob Malcolm's 25-yard drive was
blocked, Prso seizing on the rebound only to see his
effort parried by Jamie Langfield.
Fourteen minutes later Marvin Andrews should have done
better than head over the bar from a Chris Burke
Immediately thereafter the opening goal arrived - at
the other end when Burke's slip allowed Dutchman Ferne
Snoyl the opportunity to centre for Jamie Smith, with
room to spare right in front of goal, to volley home
Rangers' defensive deficiencies were being exposed -
and five minutes later it was 2-0 when Neil
MacFarlane's cross to the back post saw Russell
Anderson outjump Ian Murray to nod down to Steve
Lovell who shook off the challenge of Sotirios
Kyrgiakos to prod the ball home.
A truly abysmal 45 minutes ended with a blizzard
threatening to force the abandonment of the game, yet
by the restart of play the snow had eased off in time
to see Rangers taking the field with two changes -
Steven Smith and Thomas Buffel replacing Sotirios
Kyrgiakos and Kris Boyd.
In an instant the introduction of Buffel transformed
the Light Blues, giving rise to the question of just
exactly why he had not played from the start.
Rangers should have reduced the deficit in 49 minutes
when Barry Ferguson shot wide from a Burke cross, then
seven minutes later in a lightning break Buffel and
Lovenkrands split the Dons' defence wide open only for
the Ibrox Captain to head the Dane's cross wide.
If those two misses were bad enough, the worst was yet
to come - Lovenkrands somehow putting the ball wide of
the target after Prso and Buffel had again opened up
the home defence.
Rangers continued to dictate play, but one had the
inescapable feeling that those missed chances would
prove fatal - Burke passing up another golden
opportunity in 83 minutes when, through on a reverse
pass from Prso, the winger hesitated before shooting
into the side-net.
Sixty seconds later Lovenkrands' cross only just
eluded the inrushing Prso.
Time however ran out on Rangers - and with news that
Hibernian had overwhelmed Livingston 7-0 to move into
third place the prospect of the unthinkable prospect
of the reigning Champions failing to qualify for
Europe looms ever larger.
Surely such a cataclysmic event would force the hand
of Chairman David Murray - but don't bet on it.
Afterwards a beleaguered McLeish lamented:
"We were much better in the second-half. We gave away
two cheap goals. We just have to keep battling.
Aberdeen defended stoutly. We just have to concentrate
on the teams above us."
Dons Boss Jimmy Calderwood was honest in his
"We deserved the win. Rangers were a completely
different team in the second-half. Thomas Buffel
caused us all manner of problems with his movement and
pace. We would have been struggling had Rangers pulled
a goal back."
The plain and unacceptable truth however is that
Aberdeen have now won seven out of a possible nine
points against Rangers this season - an unacceptable
state of affairs to all with the apparent exception of
Chairman David Murray.
ABERDEEN Langfield; Clark, Anderson, Severin,
McNaughton; Nicholson, MacFarlane (Diamond 76),
Griffin, Snoyl (Foster 65); Lovell (Mackie 72), Smith
UNUSED SUBS Esson, Dempsey, Stewart, MacAulay
RANGERS Waterreus; Ricksen, Andrews, Kyrgiakos (Smith
45), Murray; Burke, Malcolm, Ferguson, Lovenkrands;
Prso, Boyd (Buffel 45)
UNUSED SUBS Klos, Carcary, Hutton, Novo, Hemdani
REFEREE John Underhill