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Clyde vs Rangers (SFL 3rd) 16/02/2013 KO 15:00 GMT


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On Saturday Rangers play their second game of the season on the artificial pitch at Broadwood, having won the previous encounter 2-0, Rangers first away win of the season, with goals from Dean Shiels and Lee McCulloch.

 

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While Rangers continue to run away with the title, a full 22 points clear of second placed Queen's Park, Clyde currently sit 8th in the table, having won only one of their last six matches.

 

Early Team News

SKIPPER Lee McCulloch’s hopes of a speedy recovery from an ankle problem have been dealt a blow as he is being sent for another examination of the problem.

McCulloch has not featured since January 5 and is still suffering from pain which has made it difficult to train.

Now he will have a second scan on the problem area to finally get to the bottom of the issue but clearly he faces more time on the sidelines.

Manager Ally McCoist has also revealed that Ross Perry and Fran Sandaza are also unlikely to return to the team for Saturday’s game away to Clyde.

He told RangersTV: “Lee is struggling unfortunately. He has been having this pain in his ankle and we are going to send him back for another scan.

“Obviously the injury is not right and we need to get it right.

“Perry and Sandaza are also still struggling. Ross came off with a hamstring injury at Tannadice while Fran has a thigh muscle pull so we don’t expect either of them to be fit for the weekend.â€

With Kevin Kyle still struggling and both Lewis Macleod and Darren Cole out long term, McCoist’s resources remain stretched.

Kal Naismith serves the second of a two-match ban this weekend after his dismissal at Tannadice in the Scottish Cup on February 2.

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Ally McCoist speaking ahead of tomorrow's match:

 

A Test Of Character

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ALLY McCOIST believes tomorrow’s clash with Clyde will be one of the first tests of his squad’s ability to motivate itself.

The Rangers boss refused to accept the suggestion after last week’s victory over Queen’s Park that the league title race is settled.

He believes his side must focus on every match and that Saturday’s trip to Broadwood will be the first chance to see how his players cope with those demands.

McCoist said: “We’ll find out tomorrow because effectively it’s not over yet. This is a new squad, and a new team but Rangers teams have always had to go and win games.

“Regardless of opposition or competition there is an extra pressure on this club to win games of football.

“I defy anyone to tell me that’s not the case and it will be put to the test in the next few weeks.â€

McCoist’s side earned its first victory on the road in SLF3 at Broadwood earlier this season in a hard fought win.

The boss is expecting a similar test from a side managed by two men he knows well in Jim Duffy and Chic Charnley.

He added: “I remember Clyde had a chance to score before we got our goal and there wasn’t a lot in the game.

“To be fair Dean Shiels scored an excellent goal and then we got another from big Lee towards the end.

“It was a really important step for us that particular game. We had three games which we’d drawn and a defeat at Stirling and people were questioning the results away from home.

“It will be equally difficult tomorrow because they have two guys who know the game well and enjoy winning.â€

McCoist will again be without a host of first team players for the match with his squad likely to shape up in exactly the same way as it did against Queen’s Park seven days earlier.

He said: “Numbers wise the squad’s not looking great. We’re in exactly the same shape as we were last week when we struggled to fill the bench.

“We have our long term injuries and Kal Naismith is suspended. So Perry is out, McCulloch is out and Macleod is out.

“Kyle and Sandaza are both missing too so we’ll have the same squad as we had last week.â€

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Match report:

 

Clyde 1-4 Rangers

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RANGERS cruised to their eighth successive away win in the Third Division as they took another step towards the title with a handsome 4-1 victory against Clyde.

Doubles from Andy Little then David Templeton secured the points at Broadwood, the ground where that impressive run of results began back in October.

Having struggled for so long to get their first away success in the championship, it took until that game against the Bully Wee for Gers to break their duck.

Ally McCoist’s men haven’t stopped succeeding on their league travels since and this was certainly one of their more straightforward afternoons of the season.

As soon as Little broke the deadlock in the early stages, there was only one team which looked as though it would win and that proved to be the case.

The manager will have been happy with the manner of his side’s triumph as it followed up last week’s 4-0 win against Queen’s Park with another dominant result.

It seems as though his squad is now over the mini slump it endured at the start of 2013 and it will move on to next Saturday’s fixture at Berwick with confidence.

Given he was without seven players for this match, it wasn’t a great surprise McCoist went with the same starting line-up and substitutes that defeated the Spiders.

He was looking for the same sort of performance as he got from his men in the second half of that match too.

But the opening moments were disjointed as both sides were guilty of misplaced passes on an ever-awkward artificial surface which, as usual, caused a degree of apprehension.

Rangers soon settled though and Templeton signalled his intentions with a 20-yard drive that flashed over before the visitors took a lead with less than eight minutes on the clock.

Little had relished his rare outing as the central striker against Gardner Spiers’ team a week ago as he scored his first goals in four games.

Dean Shiels also found the net but had a frustrating afternoon in general as most things he tried failed to come off.

On this occasion, however, the two were both on form as they combined really well to ensure the Light Blues went ahead.

It was Little who took possession on the halfway line and linked with Shiels, who charged upfield then played his countryman in after a good interchange between them initially.

With only home keeper Jamie Barclay to beat, Little played a game of patience as he waited for his opponent to commit before rolling a neat finish inside the far post.

That was his 19th goal of what has been a terrific campaign for the young Ulsterman so far and an opener so soon, Rangers were in for a comfortable day.

They certainly set about trying to get a second quickly, with the home rearguard having to react sharply to stop Templeton from pulling the trigger.

The former Hearts star then set up his old Tynecastle team-mate Ian Black with a deep corner from the left but his header went just over.

Templeton had another go after an excellent cross-field pass from Barrie McKay as Gers dictated, although he was again off range as he pulled his attempt across goal and wide.

It wasn’t long before the lead was doubled, however, and it was Little who again made his mark with a tremendous finish.

Templeton played inside to Kyle Hutton and he rampaged upfield before playing to the forward.

Under pressure from his marker, Little still had a lot to do but a smart turn left the defender motionless and he ran around him to set up the shooting chance.

From there, Little rifled high into the net and with almost three quarters of the game to go it seemed it was already over as a contest.

Emilson Cribari nearly flicked in his first goal for the club from a Templeton corner to make it 3-0 but his effort was cleared.

Nevertheless, the Ibrox team was in total control and having such a healthy lead so soon took any sting there had been out of the match.

There was time for one more goal before the break though – and it was a quite incredible strike at that which caused much amusement in the press box.

Discussion between two journalists looking on had come on to Templeton and how he had fallen away a little after a bright start.

To raucous laughter from those sitting around them, the winger then stepped up three seconds later with a goal of the season contender.

There seemed to be little danger as Templeton picked up the ball deep in midfield and started dribbling forward.

But he then unleashed a wicked rising drive from 30 yards which rocketed past Barclay, smacked off the inside of the keeper’s far post and dropped in.

Clyde started the second half much brighter and took advantage when Rangers switched off to pull one back.

Striker Kevin Watt was the scorer, finishing well as he turned Stuart McColm’s centre past Neil Alexander to reduce the deficit.

But back came Rangers and they soon struck again with another fine effort from Templeton as he grabbed his 13th of the campaign and 11th since moving along the M8.

Chris Hegarty had just had a header from Lee Wallace’s free kick saved superbly by Barclay but Clyde couldn’t clear their lines properly.

And when the ball fell to Templeton on the left, his stepovers took him past two players before he shot across the face of goal and in.

With that, the points were safe and Hutton, Little, Shiels and substitute Fraser Aird were all amongst those who tried to pile further misery on their opponents but failed.

The hard part had been done and with another seven days now to prepare before the next fixture at Shielfield Park, Rangers will go there riding high.

CLYDE: Barclay, Brown (Sharp 68), Kane, Gray, Lyden, MacBeth (McGachie 51), Fitzpatrick (Scullion 73), Sweeney, Watt, McCluskey, McColm.

SUBS NOT USED: Fitzharris, Rajovic.

SCORER: Watt 48.

BOOKINGS: McCluskey, Sweeney, Brown.

RANGERS: Alexander; Argyriou, Hegarty, Cribari, Wallace; McKay, Black (Crawford 66), Hutton, Templeton (Aird 80); Shiels (Mitchell 85); Little.

SUBS NOT USED: Faure, Gallacher.

SCORERS: Little 8, 24, Templeton 45, 55.

BOOKING: Black.

REFEREE: Kevin Clancy.

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After the second half performance against Queens Park last week, the message from Ally McCoist would have been ‘more of the same please’ and that is exactly what he got. Three first half goals from Andy Little (2) and David Templeton allowed Rangers to take their foot off the gas in the second half to run out eventual 4-1 winners.

Early Pressure

Slow starts have been a recurring theme this season. All too often we allow the opposition to get comfortable in their defensive shape early on and we (at times) struggle to break them down. This was not the case today as the forward players and midfield pressed Clyde high up the pitch, not allowing them to get comfortable or even keep hold of the ball for any significant length of time. Rangers capitalised on this by scoring in the first ten minutes after some good play from Dean Shiels to play in Andy Little who doesn’t seem to miss many when he is on form.

Little – Shiels Partnership

Dean Shiels has been criticised over the past couple months for going missing in games and not getting involved. While I agree with this to a certain extent, I think he was a victim of the position he was playing in. He was playing in that role behind the lone frontman, a role that many teams across Europe have very creative players in. But with creative players you need to get them on the ball. For a lot of the time during the past couple of months we have been using the long ball to completely bypass the midfield or we have built attacks down the wings, primarily the left hand side. This was making it very difficult for Shiels to get involved, although he could have been doing more to get himself into games.

But now we are seeing him begin to develop what looks like a very promising partnership with Andy Little. They seem to understand each other well. Little’s movement gives Shiels more options for a pass, which we saw today with the first goal. He has been used to playing with a target man up front, but we are now seeing how Shiels is a lot better getting the ball into feet and having a more mobile striker alongside him.

The 4-2-3-1

The 4-2-3-1 formation is one that on paper looks like the ideal formation for us to use. It suits the players we have. But up until the second half against Queens Park, we hadn’t seen Ally use it to its full effectiveness. Before last week we had rarely seen the 2 central midfielders venture forward. We don’t need holding midfielders when we expect to have the majority of possession; we need them pressing forward to offer an extra option in attack. When teams are sitting in and playing everyone behind the ball it is hard to play your way through if the player on the ball has no options for a pass.

I also like the three behind the striker to play within the width of the 18 yard box. This allows the full backs to get forward and provide another extra problem for the opposition defence. The more players you have in the forward areas, the more you will be able to drag the opposition out of position to create space. With Argyriou back in the team we are starting to see this. If he was to improve his crossing, I don’t see how Ally could ever select Sebastien Faure ahead of him. If Ally continues to play this way once MacLeod is back in the team we should start to see the very best from a player who was already impressing.

This was all evident today against Clyde, especially in the first half. We saw how much space Templeton was getting when he had Wallace constantly overlapping. The defenders didn’t know who to try and stop. While we struggle with injuries it looks like this will be our team. With performances like today we will have the league wrapped up in no time.

Settled Defence?

Our defence this season has been poor to say the least. The Perry/Cribari partnership has had the most playing time, but it looks like the Hegarty/Cribari partnership could be the best one we have. Despite poor defending for Clyde’s goal, they coasted through most of the game. Hegarty reads the game really well, an attribute that Davie Weir had in abundance. If he keeps improving then I don’t see how Ross Perry can just walk back into the team. In my opinion, this is the back four we will see for the remainder of the season if we don’t get anymore injuries.

It is always a bonus these days when you get a good result and a good performance. Too often this season we have seen a decent result but a poor performance. But after today and last week, let’s hope this becomes something we see week in week out.

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