Steven Whittaker nods Rangers ahead.
Welcome relief for manager Walter Smith no doubt as it was his counterpart Celtic boss Tony Mowbray’s turn to face the inquisitive press pack over recent bad results in Europe (Celtic 0 - 1 Hamburg SV) and now over the CIS cup exit as Celtic face the fact that they are no longer in the hunt for a possible domestic treble.
It was the Ibrox sides’ young guns that helped fire Rangers into the semi finals of the CIS cup with rookie defenders Danny Wilson and Jordan McMillan impressing as both made their competitive debuts for Rangers with Walter Smith mixing it up a little due to injuries and some players being rested.
Fellow teenager John Fleck impressed on the night too (he of course could almost be considered a veteran when compared to his fellow teenage fan club members with 20 odd first appearances) grabbing the winner late on in the game.
Four days later it was back up the A9 again to the City of Discovery for the Sunday afternoon match up against Craig Levein’s Dundee Utd side.
Always a tough fixture for Rangers as over the last few years there has been a number of testing and challenging draw’s that have frustrated the Ibrox side but this time it was the torrential rain that was to be the bug bear for both sides.
The heavy downpour made playing conditions difficult from the onset, so much so the Tanadice floodlights were on full beam despite it being an early lunch time kick off.
Scottish weather don’t you just love it?!
Rangers had a few chances in the first despite Dundee Utd dominating with a 55-45 majority possession of the ball. The best chances for the Gers coming from strikers Kris Boyd as he failed to connect to a Kenny Miller pass and big Kyle Lafferty hitting his shot wide after squeezing his way through the United defence.
Dundee Utd had a number of failed attempts at goal, firstly defender Mihael Kovacevic having a header come of the Rangers cross bar, midfielder Prince Buaben blasting a shot over the from 16 yards and Paul Dixons free-kick from 25 yards out rebounding of the crossbar as well.
Despite United’s possession and first half chances it was Rangers who took the lead on the 29th minute through midfielder Steven Davis. The goal resulting from a Davis corner kick cleared by United defender Garry Kenneth which found its way to Kyle Lafferty, who headed the ball to Sasa Papac who delivered a rather sweet curling cross into the United penalty area for Davis to latch onto.
Calls for offside from Dundee Utd, watching the replay at first I thought Davis was just the slightest edge off side however after watching it several times I think the ball was played just inline and well lets be honest you’re going to take the decision every time if it goes your way.
Rain eventually stopped play (something I’m more used to saying and seeing when following another sporting passion of mine!) as referee Mike Tumilty and his assistants inspected the pitch during the half-time interval.
The correct decision in my eyes as the player’s safety is of paramount importance as is quality of football and entertainment value for the fans. I fear if the match had gone on we would have seen a farcical football spectacle due to the weather conditions and more worryingly a nasty injury or two.
All in all a disappointing afternoon especially when Rangers were 1 – 0 up but that’s life in tropical rain hit Scotland I’m afraid! This fixture has been rescheduled for either the 1st or 15th of next month.
Rangers now lie third in the SPL table as Celtic beat Killie 3 – 0 at the weekend and with Hibs beating Aberdeen 2 – 0 at Easter Road to go second, a single point above Rangers who obviously have a game in hand now together with Dundee Utd.
Meantime it’s back to serious business in the Champions League as Rangers face Unirea Urziceni away at Tineretului stadium on Wednesday night (4th Nov 09).
Let’s face it; it’s been a rather disastrous start for the Ibrox side in Group G with just one single point coming from the opening fixture against Stuttgart followed by two heavy losses on the bounce at home to Sevilla and what was an underestimated Unirea Urziceni side. Rangers quite simply must win in Romania to have any real chance of making the next round of the competition or indeed even make third spot to drop into the Europa Cup.
The team is fighting on a number of levels here, firstly to salvage some pride back for club after recent disappointing results in the Champions League, secondly to lift the cloud over Ibrox from recent front page money trouble headlines concerning the club and finally helping the Scottish cause in terms of the UEFA coefficient rankings.
And let’s not forget the fans too.
Yes it’s been a few gloomy weeks for Rangers but I see some sunshine on the horizon…
It’s great to see young players such as Danny Wilson aged only 17 years old (who I thought had an excellent game against the both Dundee teams) come into the side and rise to the challenge.
With Madjid Bougherra still injured and Lee McCulloch remaining a doubt for the trip to Unirea young Danny Wilson could well be partnering Captain Davie Weir in central defence. It may well be a touch ask for a rookie of his age and experience but what better way to get big match experience?
I say give him a start!
Granted it’s a huge step up in class from the SPL as well as being a must win game or at the very least Rangers needing a draw but the way things are going at Ibrox the products of Murray Park are the future for the club as funds seem to be depleted so much that’s there’s constant tabloid rumor’s of a fire sale at Ibrox.
Steven Davis is the latest player being linked with a move away from Ibrox come the January transfer window. The midfielder is rumored to be attracting interest from new Premiership rich boys Birmingham City, managed by former Rangers manager Alex McLeish.
After excessive spending during the 1990s and early 2000s under Sir David Murray’s reign as chairman, his wisest investment could well be Murray Park training ground that bears his name as it seems that is the new lifeline for the club if major new investment isn’t found.
Rangers ‘Young Team’ at the ‘Ready’ once again.
Dated 2nd November 2009.