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Montrose vs Rangers (SFL 3rd) 30/03/2013 KO 12:00 GMT


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On Saturday Rangers make their second visit of the season to Montrose, having won the previous encounter at Links Park 4-1, with goals from Dean Shiels, Lewis Macleod,,Lee McCulloch and Robbie Ceawford, with his first ever goal for Rangers.

 

Montrose currently sit third in the table, twenty six points behind Rangers, having won four and lost three of their last seven games, which in turn followed a run of three successive draws. The players are well aware that Rangers recent form has not been satisfactory, Andy Little describing recent performances as "Way off the mark". Little was away on international duty with Northern Ireland last week, but would have been unavailable through injury.

 

In other news, Ian Black could be the sole addition to the squad, but according to the official Rangers site, three others aren't far behind him.

 

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Former Hearts midfielder Black has served his suspension after a recent red card at Elgin and he is poised to come back into the pool for the trip to Montrose.

Andy Little is unlikely to make it though as he continues to received treatment for the knee injury which forced him out of Northern Ireland’s squad for their game with Israel tonight.

And although David Templeton and Ross Perry have both stepped up their rehabilitation from knocks, neither is likely to be risked on the artificial surface at Links Park.

With Darren Cole, Lewis Macleod and Dean Shiels out for now and Fran Sandaza suspended by the club at present, manager Ally McCoist still has big selection problems.

Black’s availability will allow for added experience in midfield but otherwise it’s a sparse pool the Light Blues boss will pick from.

That means the likes of Kane Hemmings and Robbie Crawford are likely starters again, while teenager Andy Murdoch could be on the bench once more.

First-team coach Ian Durrant said: “I think Ian will maybe be the only one who will come back in.

“Andrew has come back from Northern Ireland and he had a scan on his knee. He has shaken it up a bit and with the game being on astroturf he might struggle on that.

“David has been given the all-clear to up his rehab and we will see how he goes towards the end of the week. You never know.

“Ross has had another week under his belt and that’s a good sign for us but I think we’re still looking at the 16 we had on Saturday with Ian added to it.

“It’ll be down to the medical staff to decide if David or Ross come in too but playing on a synthetic pitch might be a bit too much for them at the moment.â€

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Rangers failed to capitalise on a promising start to the game, inspired by the welcome return of David Templeton, eventually having to settle for a second consecutive 0-0 draw. And so the title will have to wait a little longer.

 

Montrose 0-0 Rangers

 

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RANGERS were again left frustrated this afternoon after a second consecutive goalless draw in SFL3, this time at Montrose's Links Park.

The point gained edges the Light Blues closer to the title but they struggled to break down Stuart Garden's side who worked hard throughout the 90 minutes.

As it stands Rangers will be crowned Champions if second-placed Queen's Park lose to Elgin City at Hampden later today.

But the performance against the Gable Endies was ultimately disappointing with the home team arguably creating the better chances, especially in a disappointing second half.

Ally McCoist made two changes to his team that drew with Stirling Albion at Ibrox last weekend with David Templeton and Ian Black returning in place of Fraser Aird and Barrie McKay.

Templeton started on the left wing while Ian Black joined Kyle Hutton in the middle of the park as part of a 4-1-4-1 formation.

Rangers had to work hard for the three points when they last travelled to Angus in December and they started positively on this occasion.

Hutton's early long-range effort swerved wide of target and on 11 minutes Templeton looked up and saw John Gibson off his line but the keeper got back to save his cheeky lob from 35 yards.

The Gers winger was looking lively on his return from an Achilles injury and on 15 minutes saw another attempt blocked after his pace and skill had taken him into a goalscoring position.

It was one-way traffic at this stage and when Wallace powered his way into the box his shot hit Gibson before skimming off the top of the crossbar.

Montrose were struggling with the pace of Templeton and on 24 minutes the number 11 landed painfully on the 3G surface when Cameron McDonald produced a poor tackle which halted a promising counter attack. He was quite rightly shown the first yellow card of the game.

From the resulting free-kick Lee McCulloch smashed a shot through the wall but again the ball flew a metre wide of the target.

Montrose, however, had a couple of chances before the half hour mark.

On 27 minutes a low drive from the experienced Jamie Winter was arrowing into the bottom corner but Neil Alexander dived to his right to make a good save.

Defender Alan Campbell then had his head in his hands when he rose to meet a wicked Paul Watson free kick but the ball curled past the post.

The Gable Endies were now back in the game and they should have been ahead at the break when, on 37 minutes, a great cross from right back Stephen McNally found striker Martin Boyle who headed over from just five yards.

As it was the game was goalless at the break with the travelling Bears frustrated their team couldn't build on their good start to the match.

McCoist and Montrose boss Garden stuck with the same players for the restart and it was the home side this time that came out the traps quickly.

With two minutes of the second period played David Gray's rocket had to be watched by Alexander as it soared into the Rangers fans behind his goal.

At the other end Hemming's left foot shot on the turn was going in but was palmed away confidently by Gibson.

With Rangers in need of a spark Barrie McKay replaced Robbie Crawford before the hour mark with Templeton moving through the middle with Hemmings.

More urgency was required in the last third of the pitch if Rangers were to get the win in Angus they so desperately craved.

But on 67 minutes it was Montrose that had the ball in the net.

A deep cross from substitute Lloyd Young was punched out by Alexander who then had to stop a powerful volley from Terry Masson.

The ball went straight up in the air and as it came back down the Gers keeper was fouled before Boyle fired it in from 8 yards.

With just over 20 minutes remaining Kal Naismith was given a run out in place of Hemmings but the youngster didn't have time to have an impact and help his team secure a much-needed victory.

Montrose (4-4-2): Gibson; McNally, Campbell, McDonald (L. McIntosh 90), Watson; Masson, Winter (R. McIntosh 85), Gray (Young 64), Johnston; G. Wood, Boyle

Subs Not Used: S. Wood, McCord

Rangers. (4-1-4-1): Alexander; Hegarty, Cribari, McCulloch, Wallace; Faure; Crawford (McKay 59), Black, Hutton, Templeton; Hemmings (Naismith 69)

Subs Not Used: Smith, Aird, Argyriou

Ref: Kevin Clancy

 

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Queens Park lost 1-0 at home so that result means  Rangers are Division 3 Champions. ::clap2::

Do you know, I never even noticed the Queen's Park result? I think I can blame a certain porky Iberian for that!

 

Here's Lee McCulloch on winning the title:

 

Best Feeling In The World

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LEE MCCULLOCH has expressed his pride at leading Rangers to the Scottish Third Division title this season.

The 34-year-old skipper has played a massive part in the historic campaign - playing in defence, midfield and attack while also scoring 24 goals in all competitions so far – and his experience has been vital for Ally McCoist’s young squad.

Jig admits the past eight months have been a rollercoaster ride with a lot of highs as well as lows but the Light Blues have now achieved what they set out to at the start of a league campaign which began at Peterhead’s Balmoor Stadium on August 11, 2012.

For every Rangers fan today should be a celebration with the club taking its first step back to the top of the Scottish game and McCulloch, speaking as he arrived back at Murray Park from Montrose, could not hide his delight.

He said: “There was obvious disappointment after the game today, it didn’t flow and we didn’t play as well as we can.

“But to come home and hear on the bus that we were Champions is the best feeling in the world.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win three (titles) before but I think this is my favourite one. I’ve been lucky enough to be captain for this one and it means the world to me and my family.

“We can only play against the teams we’ve been told to play against but at the end of it if you are giving me a winner’s medal I am taking it.

“It really is a dream come true to captain the team and hopefully we can kick on now.â€

This afternoon’s goalless draw was a frustrating one for the club’s inspirational captain but he is now looking forward to the five remaining league games and has no doubt Rangers will go from strength to strength and that the younger players in the squad will only get better.

He added: “I think it’s a good thing that they take a bit of criticism.

“I think the low points this season, the hard times, have made the boys stronger for next season, that’s the way I look at it anyway.

“We’re just happy to be where we are with five games left and the number of points we are ahead. You could say it’s been easy but it’s been far from that.

“The boys are just delight and the coaching staff are as well.

“I’m away on my pro-license tomorrow, I’m in at Hampden at 9 o’clock and then I’m down to Everton on Monday all day. Maybe on Monday night I’ll get time to reflect back.

"But this will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life, to captain a Rangers team to win a league means the world to me.â€

 

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