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Livingston vs. Rangers SPFL Championship 04/10/14 KO 15:00


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Match Preview from the Official Site

 

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ALLY MCCOIST has made five changes to his starting eleven for today’s Championship clash against Livingston at the Energy Assets Arena.

With Bilel Mohsni suspended Richard Foster will start at right back with Marius Zaliukas joining skipper Lee McCulloch in the centre of defence and Lee Wallace at left back.

In midfield Fraser Aird slots in on the right wing with Lewis Macleod deemed fit having fully recovered from an ankle injury. He starts on the left wing with Nicky Law and Ian Black through the middle.

Nicky Clark also returns to the Rangers side after missing recent games against Falkirk and Hibernian with a shoulder injury. Nicky will partner Kris Boyd in attack as the Light Blues look to return to winning ways against John McGlynn’s Lions.

On the Rangers bench this afternoon are keeper Lee Robinson, Darren McGregor, Stevie Smith, Jon Daly, David Templeton, Seb Faure and Dean Shiels.

RANGERS: Simonsen; Foster, Zaliukas, McCulloch, Wallace; Aird, Law, Black, Macleod; Boyd, Clark
Subs: Robinson, Smith, Daly, Templeton, Faure, McGregor, Shiels

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Livingston 0-1 Rangers

 

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LEWIS MACLEOD’S stunning overhead kick after just eight minutes was enough to give Rangers an important away victory over Livingston at the Energy Assets Arena.

 

In a game in which the visitors were guilty of missing several good goalscoring opportunities, particularly in the second half, it was Scotland under-21 starlet Macleod who produced the highlight of the game as he returned to Ally McCoist’s side having recovered from a shoulder injury.

The 1-0 result means Rangers stay six points behind Championship leaders Hearts, who also won today, and it was a solid display from the League One champions against a Livi side who worked hard throughout.

Ally McCoist made five changes to his starting eleven with matchwinner Macleod, Richard Foster, Marius Zaliukas, Fraser Aird and Nicky Clark all back in the Light Blues' team.

And with the sun shining down on Livi’s lush playing surface for kick-off, they started positively albeit it was John McGlynn’s men who had the first attempt on goal. After four minutes Danny Mullen found space but he blazed his shot over from 20 yards.

The Livi striker then broke forward down the right wing and when he was hauled back by Lee Wallace ref Stephen Finnie was quick to dish out the first yellow card to the Gers left back.

On 8 minutes the opening goal arrived and it was a moment of magic from Macleod. Rangers had men up the park and when the ball was played out of Livi’s box to Ian Black he lobbed it to the back post where Macleod was lurking unmarked.

Without hesitation, and with his back to goal, he unleashed a majestic bicycle kick which flew high beyond keeper Darren Jamieson and into the net.

Once again it was a finish of the highest quality from the 20-year-old and it lifted a bit of pressure off the visitors as they looked to settle into the match after their disappointing defeat to Hibs on Monday night.

Livingston, however, responded well to going behind as they tried to get the ball up to their top scorer Jordan White without really troubling Simonsen.

How much of the opening half hour Craig Sives will remember is anyone’s guess. The big defender took a knock-out blow after Nicky Law’s thunderbolt caught him directly on the chin and he was stretchered off as a result and replaced by Gary Glen.

After the break in play both teams attempted to get a grip of the game and for Rangers it was important to keep it tight at the back.

A slack pass inside from Zaliukas arrived at the feet of White but his tame first-time effort was easily gathered by Simonsen who had a relatively quiet first half.

At the other end an intelligent pass from Kris Boyd released Fraser Aird inside Livi’s 18-yqard box but his shot from close range was blocked by Jamieson and Rangers were unable to extend their advantage before the interval.

Having enjoyed a positive start to this match McCoist would have hoped his side could get back to that level in the second period as the game took a dip in quality following Macleod’s goal. Darren McGregor took the place of Marius Zaliukas for the restart with the Lithuanian failing to recover from a knock he took in the first half.

Just three minutes in and Rangers should have found the net for a second time. Richard Foster produced a powerful, overlapping run to get into Livingston’s 18-yard box and a great goalscoring position.

But instead of shooting he unselfishly cut it back to Boyd who sclaffed his shot from seven yards with an open goal in front of him.

The Gers number 15 could not believe he missed it and either could the bluenoses in the stands. Surely it’s just a matter of time before his luck changes.

On 52 minutes it was his strike partner Nicky Clark’s turn to miss a glaring opportunity. Macleod released Wallace down the left wing and when his back post cross floated over Jamieson, Clark failed to keep his volley down as he stretched to meet the ball.

This was more like it from Rangers and when McCulloch’s shot was palmed nervously over by Jamieson you wondered how long the home side could hold out as they struggled to get out their half.

When they did, however, Kyle Jacobs launched a powerful drive from 30 yards which had Simonsen flapping as it clipped the side netting with plenty of supporters in the ground thinking it had gone in.

This highlighted the need for the Gers players to stay focused and with a single goal separating the sides on the hour mark Livi were still in this contest.

On 64 minutes a shot from Michael McKenna crept wide of Simonsen’s goal and seconds later McCoist made his second change with Jon Daly replacing Boyd.

In the next attack a chance fell to the substitute. Macleod and Law this time combined and when the ball was played in Daly’s effort from 15 yards was deflected over the bar.

The game was now flowing from end to end with Livi getting men forward and it was Rangers who had to keep their concentration.

On 73 minutes a deep corner found Kyle Jacobs and his looping header went over Simonsen but was cleared off the line by Ian Black with several of Livi’s players claiming it had gone over.

That was a let off for the Light Blues who then pushed forward but substitute David Templeton, who had replaced Aird, could not get a shot away under pressure.

Towards the end of the 90 minutes Rangers did well to soak up any late Livi pressure and although it was frustrating they failed to net a second goal, overall they deserved to claim all three points.

LIVINGSTON (3-5-2): Jamieson; Fordyce, Sives (Glen 28), Talbot; McKenna, Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien (Ogleby 90), Kyle Jacobs, Rutherford; Mullen (Hippolyte 73), White
SUBS NOT USED: Grant, Robertson, Praprotnik, Burchill
GOALS:
BOOKINGS: O’Brien, Glen

RANGERS (4-4-2): Simonsen; Foster, McCulloch, Zaliukas (McGregor 46), Wallace; Aird (Templeton 71), Law, Black, Macleod; Boyd (Daly 65), Clark
SUBS NOT USED: Robinson, Faure, Shiels, Smith
GOALS: Macleod 8
BOOKINGS: Wallace

REF: Stephen Finnie
ATT: 5,924

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