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Rangers vs Annan Athletic (SFL 3rd) 09/03/2013 KO 15:00 GMT


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Last week's win over East Stirling leaves Rangers 20 points clear at the top of the table... and still they have no idea which division they'll be playing in next season. On Saturday Rangers are again at home, this time against Annan Athletic, currently 8th in the table and without a win since January 12th. Rangers won the previous encounter with Annan at Ibrox 3-0 thanks to goals from David Templeton (2) and Andy Little.




Ally McCoist speaking ahead of tomorrow's game:


We Are Making Progress


ALLY McCoist’s immediate goals are to get the Third Division title wrapped up and then set about tying down some new signings.

The manager was speaking at the end of a week in which Rangers announced impressive interim figures.

And Ally also made it clear that he and chief executive Charles Green are on the same wavelength about what has to be done to improve the team.

"Where we are at the moment is ok, it’s not great and it’s not a disaster, but in the grand scheme of things it’s ok," he said.

"We will make progress this season hopefully by winning the league and getting out of the division. We can then regroup and we can hopefully bring in one or two players who can help the assembled squad move on again.

"That’s the ideal scenario, to strengthen and get back to the level we all want to reach."

The manager received strong backing in a radio interview from Mr Green, who made it clear Ally knows what is required.

"It goes with the territory to be fair," Ally added "but I would far rather have my position discussed when we are 20 points clear than 20 points behind, that’s for sure.

"But I speak to Charles on a regular basis and I listened to the interview yesterday. I would have to say he was completely and totally supportive as I am of him."




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Early team news:

DAVID TEMPLETON will miss tomorrow’s home game against Annan Athletic as he sits out the game with an Achilles injury.

The problem isn’t a major one and the former Hearts winger could be back in action again next weekend against Elgin.

He isn’t being risked tomorrow though and that could provide an opening for the likes of Fraser Aird or Dean Shiels to come back into the team.

Shiels was omitted from the squad altogether for last Saturday’s 3-1 victory against East Stirlingshire at Ibrox.

Aird, meanwhile, has been limited to substitute appearances lately and hasn’t started a first-team since the Scottish Cup tie against Alloa in November.

Otherwise, manager Ally McCoist has the same squad to choose from that he had at his disposal six days ago.

Club captain Lee McCulloch has come through a full week of training without suffering a recurrence of the ankle pains which kept him out for two months recently.

It is expected he will start up front alongside in-form Andy Little but Fran Sandaza and Kane Hemmings are also pushing for places after scoring for the reserves on Wednesday.

Kyle Hutton should play in his final game before he has to serve a one-match suspension for collecting his sixth league booking of the season recently against Stirling Albion.

But Long-term injury victims Kevin Kyle, Darren Cole and Lewis Macleod remain on the sidelines while Ross Perry continues his rehabilitation from a torn hamstring.

Tickets for the meeting with the Galabankies are still available from £16 for adults, £12 for concessions and only £5 for kids.

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Disappointing result and a very poor performance, arguably Rangers' worst of the season. How do you explain such a performance? Complacency perhaps, but whatever the case, there was no excuse. Rangers didn't get going at all during a first half in which they managed only one attempt on target.


With Queen's Park winning at Cyde, the gap is now down to 17 points, which should be enough to see Rangers home and dry for the title. Perhaps that really is part of the problem. What's certain is that Rangers will have to play a lot better than they managed today.


For what it's worth, here's the report from the official Rangers site:


Rangers 1-2 Annan Athletic


GOALS from Annan Athletic’s Ally Love and David Hopkirk put an end to Rangers’ unbeaten league record at Ibrox this season and clinched a famous win for their club.

After 11 victories and two draws at the Stadium the Light Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat to Jim Chapman’s Galabankies who showed great determination and fighting spirit to claim the three points on offer.

After a poor first half in which few chances were created and Dean Shiels was stretchered off the game burst into life after the break.

Annan were two goals up nine minutes into the second period and although a fight back looked on when Andy Little scored from close range with more than half an hour remaining it was not to be with the visitors holding on until John McKendrick's final whistle.

With David Templeton out because of an Achilles injury Shiels returned to the team for kick off, partnering captain Lee McCulloch in attack.

Kal Naismith was asked to start on the right wing with Little on the left as the manager made one change to the side which began against East Stirlingshire seven days ago.

On a bitterly cold afternoon the action in the first half did little to heat up the fans in the stadium.

Rangers enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening ten minutes but the first goalscoring opportunity was created by the visitors when the lively Hopkirk’s cross from the left was headed over by David Murray.

The Light Blues responded and a rasping drive from Anestis Argyriou produced a stunning save by Alex Mitchell who diverted the ball away from the postage stamp corner of his goal.

On 21 minutes Rangers were awarded a free-kick on the left wing and a pre-planned set piece saw Black drill a low delivery in to Wallace who peeled away from the pack but his left foot shot was saved.

Despite Little’s excellent form he was looking uncomfortable on the left but he showed a glimpse of his undoubted talent when he skinned his marker with a burst of acceleration but his shot flew across goal and out for a goal kick.

On 33 minutes, however, the Ulsterman found himself back through the middle when Shiels was stretchered off following a nasty collision with a defender and McKay jumped from the bench to take his place.

Prior to the break Annan could, and should, have had their noses in front. With four minutes of the first half remaining Hopkirk used his pace to get away from Argyriou on the left and his cut back landed at the feet of Murray in acres of space.

The forward had time to control the ball and pick his spot but his composure deserted him and his tame effort from 12 yards was easily gathered by a relieved Alexander.

The Ibrox faithful were restless and before the ref’s whistle a deflected shot from Murray was nervously palmed away by the Gers keeper.

The fans’ boos as the players walked up the tunnel said it all about a first half lacking in quality but things were only to get worse at the start of the second period.

After the unmarked Martin McNiff had headed the ball over the bar from a free-kick the Black and Golds opened the scoring on 47 minutes.

Daniel Orsi did well to work an opening on the right and his low cross into the danger area was met by Love who swept the ball into the net for his second goal of the season against Rangers.

Annan’s supporters couldn’t believe what they were seeing and on 54 minutes their team, remarkably, made it 2-0.

With Fran Sandaza now on for Naismith, Love sent Murray clear down the left and his back post delivery was nodded home by Hopkirk who took a smash to his head as he doubled his side's advantage.

Ibrox was stunned but on 58 minutes there was a glimmer of hope. McKay’s deep corner was controlled by Sandaza and his toe-poked shot was bundled in by Little for his 25th goal of the campaign.

Questions were now being asked of the visitors for the first time in the game and when McCulloch headed over and then had a shot saved by Mitchell you wondered if Rangers could complete yet another comeback.

On 69 minutes Little had the chance to equalise but his header from McCulloch’s cross went inches over the bar.

The skipper then fired a terrific shot himself on 76 minutes but Mitchell was there again to make a terrific left-handed stop.

With the clock ticking down Rangers kept the pressure on but there was to be no dramatic ending to this contest and after the players in blue had walked up the tunnel the Annan players and staff walked over to their supporters to celebrate a famous victory.

RANGERS: Alexander, Argyriou, Cribari, Hegarty, Wallace, Naismith (Sandaza 49), Black, Hutton, Shiels (McKay 33), Little, McCulloch

SUBS NOT USED: Gallacher, Faure, Crawford


ANNAN: Mitchell, Chisholm, McNiff, Swinglehurst (Daly 90), McGowan, Murray (Sloan 66), Chaplain, Jardine, Love, Hopkirk, Orsi (Black 80)

SUBS NOT USED: Shepherd, Hawke

BOOKINGS: Chisholm

REF: John McKendrick


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It's worrying how much Rangers seem to depend on Templeton, Little & McCulloch. It's not as though it's a team full of youngsters either, there's a fair bit of experience in there, but without the quality we'd prefer. Maybe Ally can bring some new lads in during the summer on free transfers, the Gers need to improve a bit for Division 2 or there could be even more embarrassing results.


Never mind though, we've pissed the league this season and the fans have had a great time on the terracing at all those Division 3 grounds - wish I could join 'em!

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