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Rangers vs. St Johnstone League Cup QF 28/10/14 KO 19:15

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Team News: Black Returns For Gers


IAN BLACK returns to the Rangers starting eleven for tonight’s League Cup quarter-final tie against Premiership side St Johnstone at Ibrox.

The experienced midfielder slots in beside Nicky Law in the heart of midfield with Stevie Smith dropping out as Ally McCoist makes just one change to the team that beat Dumbarton 3-0 on Saturday.

Black missed the match at the Bet Butler Stadium because of a dead leg picked up in training. He has, however, recovered fully and will make his 11th start of the campaign against Tommy Wright’s Saints this evening.

With Steve Simonsen between the posts a back four of Richard Foster, Lee McCulloch, Darren McGregor and Lee Wallace will protect the big Englishman’s goal.

Wallace, who gives an exclusive interview in tonight’s matchday programme, netted his first goal of the season on Saturday with a superb strike and McCoist will be hoping for more of the same from the club’s powerful full back.

In midfield Law and Black will be looking to dictate play from the engine room while Lewis Macleod shifts out to the left wing with Fraser Aird on the right.

They will be asked to provide support to the front two of Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller who now have seven and three goals respectively in all competitions this season after they joined Wallace on the scoresheet against Ian Murray’s Sons at the weekend.

RANGERS: Simonsen; Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Wallace; Aird, Law, Black, Macleod; Boyd, Miller

SUBS: Robinson, Smith, Mohsni, Shiels, Templeton, Clark, Daly

ST JOHNSTONE: Mannus, Mackay, Lappin, Wright, Anderson, Millar, Graham, Davidson, Croft, Easton, O'Halloran

SUBS: Banks, McDonald, Morgan, Caddis, McFadden, Miller, Brown

REF: Steven McLean

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Rangers 1-0 St Johnstone


LEWIS MACLEOD was again the matchwinner as his stunning header in the 86th minute took Rangers through to the semi-finals of the League Cup.

With tonight’s tie at Ibrox looking as though it was going to extra-time and maybe even penalties the Scotland under-21 starlet popped up with a brilliant finish from Fraser Aird’s cross to book his side’s place in the draw for the next round.

Having worked so hard throughout the 90 minutes few would argue Rangers deserved to go through and in the second half, in particular, they showed a real hunger and desire to get another morale-boosting victory against Premiership opposition.

Having already beaten Inverness Caley Thistle in round two, in a match which also saw Macleod net the winner, the Light Blues will now find out who they will play in the semis when the draw is made live on BBC Scotland on Saturday at 5.05pm.

With 13,023 fans within the ground there were a lot of empty seats as both sets of players made their way on to the pitch for kick off. However, a section of Bears in the Broomloan Stand did their best to lift their side while also attempting to drown out the Saints supporters who had made the journey to Glasgow from Perth.

After a slow start to the match it was the visitors who had the first attempt at goal. Brian Graham picked the ball up 20 yards out but his shot lacked the curl required to test Steve Simonsen.

On seven minutes his strike partner Michael O’Halloran then used his pace to create another opening. The number 29 darted past Ian Black on the right wing and his cut back cross made its way through to Murray Davidson.

He looked certain to fire his side in front but Richard Foster was there to make a brave block on the six-yard line to keep the score goalless.

Rangers were also making chances at the other end and on 16 minutes they were denied by Alan Mannus. Macleod sprinted past Chris Millar in the middle of the park before he slipped a perfectly timed pass through to Kris Boyd. The Gers hitman had time to look up having got in behind the defence but his low drive was blocked by the Saints keeper.

Tommy Wright was forced to make the first change to his side on 22 minutes as Davidson collided with Darren McGregor 20 yards from Rangers’ goal.

The midfielder looked to be out cold as he was stretchered off and with both sets of fans applauding the Saints star as he was carried up the tunnel it was Gary McDonald who took his place.

At the half hour mark the game was goalless although Rangers now looked the brighter of the two sides. Macleod and Wallace were again linking up well on the left flank but on 41 minutes a moment of slackness from the pair almost proved costly.

Lee Croft intercepted a pass from Wallace to his young team-mate and when the winger clipped a teasing cross into the Gers 18-yard box Frazer Wright was guilty of floating a header over Simonsen’s bar when he should have at least tested the Englishman.

After Davidson’s injury four minutes of added time were played and during this spell Foster again produced a terrific defensive header under pressure after O’Halloran had crossed in from the right.

Croft then tried his luck from distance with seconds remaining but Simonsen got down well to his right to make a comfortable stop.

At the break it was almost impossible to guess who would win this tie and within five minutes of the restart both sides had chances to edge ahead.

Macleod produced a clever cross to Boyd but, with the Rangers fans out of their seats, his shot was deflected wide off a defender’s ankle. At the other end O’Halloran was through but his shot across goal was palmed away by Simonsen for a corner.

With 50 minutes on the clock a stretcher was back on the pitch and this time it was for the Rangers goalkeeper. Brian Graham rose above the home side’s defence to meet a free-kick and with the ball arrowing towards the bottom corner of Simmo’s goal he dived to make the save but his head smashed into the post.

Lee Robinson went on to make his second appearance for Rangers in this his second spell at the club.

The treatment given to Simonsen meant six minutes of injury time would eventually be played but as the game approached the hour mark most fans in the stadium were wondering if extra time and penalties would be required to decide this tight contest.

On 64 minutes a dipping free kick from Macleod on the left was aimed for McCulloch but the ball glanced off the head of his marker Brian Graham and landed on the top of the Saints net with keeper Mannus flapping.

Miller then linked up well with Miller to get in a good shooting position but Wright was there to make an excellent tackle at full stretch.

With 16 minutes remaining Jon Daly replaced Boyd as Macleod was preparing to take a free kick and within 60 seconds of going on the big striker crashed a header off the post with his first touch.

It was getting to the nail-biting stage of the tie and you felt one goal at either end could clinch a victory and a passage through to the semis.

Indeed, on 79 minutes McCulloch had the ball in the net. The skipper powered a bullet header past Mannus from a Macleod free kick but the Main Stand linesman had already raised his flag.

With the tempo of the game rising chances were coming thick and fast and when a cross from Foster made its way through to Macleod he blazed a volley over with Ally McCoist shouting at him to keep his effort down.

 On 85 minutes, however, it was the boy wonder who got the only goal of the game and it was a cracker.

Fraser Aird delivered a great cross and Macleod was there to guide the ball into the far corner of the net with a superb header to send his side through to the semis.

RANGERS (4-4-2): Simonsen (Robinson 54); Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Wallace; Aird (Smith 88), Law, Black, Macleod; Boyd (Daly 74), Miller
SUBS NOT USED: Mohsni, Shiels, Templeton, Clark
GOAL: Macleod 86

ST JOHNSTONE (4-4-2): Mannus; Mackay, Anderson, Wright, Easton; Croft (McFadden 88), Millar, Davidson (McDonald 22), Lappin (Caddis 75); Graham, O’Halloran
SUBS NOT USED: Banks, Morgan, Miller, Brown

REF: Steven McLean
ATT: 13,023


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