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Rangers manager Ally McCoist aiming for second tier as East Stirling beaten at Ibrox

March 4th, 2013 Sports


Rangers Ally McCoist aiming for second tier as East Stirling beaten at Ibrox


Great leveller: Andy Little celebrates his goal for Rangers Photo: PA




He has a point (and a precedent) but it might be better for all concerned if
his side took an extra year on their climb back to the top.

Rangers
won comfortably enough in the end against East Stirling at Ibrox on
Saturday, the 3-1 scoreline only hinting at the number of goalscoring
opportunities McCoist’s men created, but there remain nagging doubts about
the quality of this group of players.

They may boast the country’s second-highest wage bill but the long-suffering
fans are entitled to wonder if they are getting enough bang for their buck.

Defensively, they look all over the place, particularly at set-plays while in
midfield Ian Black rarely exerts the influence he did while playing for
Hearts last season.

The heavy defeats inflicted by Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Dundee United
this season suggest that speeding up this work in progress may do more harm
than good.

Ibrox, though, was in party mood at the weekend in the wake of Lord Nimmo
Smith and his fellow tribune members’ decision not to strip Rangers of
titles won during the period when they were found guilty of deliberate
non-disclosure of payments to their players.

That verdict provided the players and management with a much-needed shot in
the arm, according to midfielder Kyle Hutton.

“It was brilliant – a massive lift for the club and the fans and you could see
the atmosphere,” said the 22-year-old.

“That put some added pressure on us to go out and give them something to enjoy
on the pitch.

“Obviously, going one down piled even more pressure on us but we came out in
the second half, scored three goals and put on a display.

“I’d have been devastated if we’d been stripped of titles and all that history
had been just taken away from us. It would have been really disappointing.

“But everyone was upbeat at Murray Park on Friday and the verdict has come at
the right time for us. It’s given us a boost just as we start to go on the
run of games which could win us the title.

“Everything is sorted now and everyone can just concentrate on the football
and getting the victories we need. Hopefully, we can get the wins we need to
wrap the league up.”

Rangers were guilty of profligacy in front of goal during an insipid first
half and that wayward finishing allowed Andrew Stirling to give the visitors
the lead.

The midfielder, who is about to return to the United States on a soccer
scholarship, played a one-two with Paul Quinn before beating Neil Alexander
low to his left.

Unfortunately for the minnows, Andy Little, one of the worst first-half
offenders, converted a cross by Anestis Argyriou just five minutes after the
restart.

Lee McCulloch, returning from injury for his first game of 2013, put Rangers
ahead with a composed finish after being sent clear by David Templeton and
Little edged ahead of his strike partner with his 24th goal of the campaign
with a shot which Grant Hay ought to have saved.

“We always seem to make it hard for ourselves,” said Hutton. “We create
chances but we don’t take them and we never seem to get that early goal.

“Consequently, as the game goes on we get more and more nervous but,
thankfully, we did the business in the second half.

“Scoring early was the key. We knew we had to come out and raise the tempo
because we had been sloppy first half.

“The gaffer made it clear that we had to raise it and we switched things
round, with David Templeton playing in the hole, and that changed the game
for us.

“Overall it was a good performance and a good three points for us. The gaffer
and Kenny McDowall came in at half-time and had a real go at us.

“We knew ourselves that we’d been poor and that we had to improve in the
second half. Thankfully, we got the win.

“I’d probably say that the first half was the poorest 45 minutes of the season
from us at Ibrox. It’s all about taking our chances because when we do that
it calms everybody down.”

Scottish Football League chief executive David Longmuir has revealed that the
men behind the reconstruction plans – himself and his counterparts from the
Scottish Premier League (Neil Doncaster) and the Scottish Football
Association (Stewart Regan) – have yet to decide which division Rangers
should play in next season or even how many divisions there will be.

“Why would you do it 18 years ago with Stranraer and not do it with us?” he
asked. “Maybe there’s a reason for not doing it and, if so, I look forward
to hearing it. But I believe that if we win the league then we’re due a
promotion.”

However, Longmuir insists that the powerbrokers have yet to agree on the new
format for 2013/14, – in spite of the fact that the clubs who qualify for
European competition start playing in mid-July.

“The honest answer is that there have been no discussions yet as to where
Rangers will play if they go on to win the Third Division,” he said.

“We’re still debating whether we should proceed with the 12-12-18 model or,
perhaps, invite two new clubs to join and switch to 12-12-10-10.

“That’s a decision which needs to be made and we would hope to vote on the
issue as soon as possible.

“We’re hoping to produce the first draft of our rulebook next week. Proper
governance and distribution of the money from the central pot are crucial
for the new organisation.

“Our priority recently has been making sure that our constitution and articles
of association are to everyone’s satisfaction.

“Consequently, we haven’t spoken about the Rangers issue. Obviously, if we
decide on four leagues then the question is irrelevant because they will
play in the third one.”

However, should they adhere to the scheme they announced two months ago, would
Rangers be placed into the second tier?

“I’m sure that will be considered along with all the other options,” said
Longmuir.

Rangers (4-4-2): Alexander; Argyriou, Hegarty, Cribari, Wallace;
Naismith (McKay 65), Hutton, Black, Templeton (Aird 90); Little, McCulloch
(Hemmings 87). Subs: Gallcher, Faure.

East Stirling (4-4-2): Hay; Shepherd (Gillespie 68), Buchanan, Miller,
Maxwell; Turner, Hunter, Greenhill, Glasgow (Wright 64); Stirling, Quinn
(Zuffle 76). Subs: Gordon, Benton. Booked: Turner, Gillespie,
Miller.

Referee: B Colvin.