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Match Report and Analysis - Rangers 4 - Montrose 2


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Two of the form teams in SFL3 met at Links Park for the first time this season. Rangers won the fixture comfortably 4-1 at Ibrox in September, but as we have seen this season it is usually a different case away from home. Rangers had won their last 2 away games having failed to win the first 4 while Montrose were unbeaten in 6 games. Rangers ran out eventual winners but there were a couple of nervy moments towards the end before Robbie Crawford sealed a 4-2 win.

The Long Ball

One of the big talking points this season (on the pitch) has been McCoist’s use of the long ball. This is used more away from home than at Ibrox. I’m not sure if there is a reason for this; the size of the opposing pitch, the surface itself or if it genuinely is a tactic he favours. Earlier in the season it was a tactic that frustrated large sections of the support. It wasn’t pretty to watch and it wasn’t effective either. But since Kevin Kyle cemented his place up front while McCulloch deputises at the back, it is a tactic that has become effective. Kyle isn’t the most mobile striker so playing the long ball we are at least playing to his strengths. Against Montrose he won nearly every ball in the air and more often than not he was either directing them down to Shiels or out wide to Little or Templeton which allowed us to retain possession.

His hold up play makes him ideal to play up front in the 4-2-3-1 formation that McCoist has favoured over the past few weeks. If you can bring the 3 attacking midfielders into play then you can cause your opponents all sorts of problems. A downside to this however is that you are bypassing the centre of midfield which means in a creative sense, it is difficult for them to get involved. With Kevin Kyle now chipping in with a few goals you can expect to see him starting up front until Ross Perry and Emilson Cribari return from injury.

Templeton v. McKay

Before the game against Stirling Albion, Kevin Kyle spoke of his excitement of having Templeton on one wing and McKay on the other. Both are exciting players who can take on players, create goals and score them as well. But for the trip to Montrose McCoist opted to leave Barrie McKay out.

Earlier in the season he did say that he would give the youngsters (minus MacLeod it would appear) a rest now and again. In this game McKay would replace Templeton with the game still level at 1-1 and the 17 year old would have a massive impact on the outcome. David Templeton had a good first half; he won the penalty that led to the equaliser and in general he caused the Montrose full back problems with his trickery and link up play with Lee Wallace. But he had a quiet start to the 2nd half and that led to his substitution around the hour mark. On in his place was McKay who gave the team a much-needed freshness. His direct running at the Montrose defence led to the 3rd and 4th goals as he left them for dead and dragged other defenders out of position allowing Shiels and Crawford to have the time and space to score their goals.

Both are exciting players but they play that role on the left quite differently. Templeton likes to hug the touchline while McKay likes to come inside onto his stronger right foot. In a 4-2-3-1 I prefer to see that 3 behind the striker play within the width of the 18-yard box and have the full backs overlap to give you that option out wide. It gives the opposing defence more problems if you get more options in the middle. I think with McKay and Little on either wing we have a better balance to the team. I would like McCoist to start with McKay on the left (much stronger when coming inside on his right) and Templeton on the right. Ask Templeton to play with the width of the 18-yard box and as we seen against Montrose, he does cause problems when he drifts inside. It will be interesting to see if McCoist changes things slightly to play to McKay’s strengths given he has 4 assists in his last 2 games.

Defensive Vulnerabilities

Inconsistency at the back has been a recurring problem this season. No matter which pairing or trio we have seen, the opposition have been able to cause them problems. The 2 league games where these defensive vulnerabilities could have led to a defeat or a draw were the opening game away to Peterhead and the game against Montrose. One thing in common between these 2 games was the fact the opposition played 2 strikers.

Against Montrose both McIntosh and Wood closed down the defence and this made it difficult to build from the back. Early on in the game we struggled to maintain possession. There were a few long balls down the line for Little and Templeton to chase that led to a loss of possession. Jamie Winter would quite often play the ball between the centre back and full back for their striker to chase which usually led to a defender putting it out for a throw in. This was key in allowing Montrose to press high up the pitch and that suited the quick tempo they started with.

It was from a throw in that they scored the opening goal. The sun only hindered our defenders as Lloyd Young made a run towards the near post to side foot volley the ball past Alexander. He was given far too much time and space. The sun could be an excuse but they just switched off – something that has been common from set pieces this season. Montrose’s 2nd goal, which was undoubtedly a great strike, also had some defensive mistakes from a Rangers point of view. Lee Wallace failed to close him down while McIntosh outmuscled Chris Hegarty. The strength of McIntosh allowed him to lay the ball off and Grey had time to get his shot on goal. Hegarty was possibly fearful of giving away a penalty but there was a defensive mix up for Garry Wood’s chance.

Simple route one stuff from Montrose; Wood with the goal kick, McIntosh with the flick on which put Wood through one on one and only the crossbar stopped Montrose making it 3-3. Before McIntosh flicked the ball on, both McCulloch and Hegarty had their eyes on the ball. This allowed Wood to get that extra yard on Hegarty who couldn’t catch up with him. Better communication was needed between the central defenders but what do you expect when they are just a make shift pairing? It could have been disastrous but thankfully the crossbar came to the rescue.

Despite the mixture of positives and negatives in the game, we can all agree that those were the kind of games we were drawing or even losing in the first couple of months of the season. We are learning to take our chances when they come, but those lapses in concentration at the back must be addressed. Kevin Kyle is showing his strengths as a target man, although we have to bypass midfielders such as Lewis MacLeod to play to Kyle’s strengths. Can McCoist find a happy medium over the next month or so? Only time will tell.

bluenose_72 (RM)

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Following on from last weekends game With our World-Record breaking 4th tier attendance of 49,913 it has took us over the half a million mark for this season home and away - 521,506 in total. Fantastic, We Don't Do Walking Away.


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