St Mirren 0-1 Rangers 6/3/11

Champions put midweek ‘game of shame’ behind them.

St Mirren 0-1 Rangers

Graham Baird reports…

Kyle Bartley’s first senior goal was enough to give Rangers the victory and three points in Sunday afternoon’s SPL clash between St Mirren and Rangers.

If the game was to be judged on creativity, excitement and stimulation, it would have struggled to receive a solitary mark out of ten.

Danny Lennon made three changes to the team which lost at Rugby Park last week, bringing in Kenny McLean, welcoming Paul McGowan back from suspension and seeing Lee Mair recover from a bout of illness.

Walter Smith named his team with only one change to the side which faced Celtic midweek, with David Healy coming in for notable absentee Sasa Papac. The Rangers manager lined his team up in an unorthodox 3-5-2 formation, also naming a vastly inexperienced bench for the game at St Mirren Park.

While St Mirren would have went into the game hoping to benefit from a  possibly fatigued and threadbare Rangers squad, there was to be no such luck for the home side as Rangers left Paisley with all three points.

The opening stages of the game were somewhat of a tedious affair, with neither side able to assert themselves in the game.

The first effort of the match was recorded after the fifth minute when Rangers’ Steven Whittaker tried an ambitious shot from just outside the area, only to see his effort sail high and wide over Paul Gallagher’s goal.

With the game failing to produce anything at either end of the park, Michael Higdon found himself at the back post of Allan McGregor’s goal after a superb cross from David van Zanten found the waiting striker. Only Higdon himself will know what he was trying when he lashed at the ball, failing to connect properly and the St Mirren striker not punishing some slack defending from Rangers.

St Mirren then went close to opening the scoring after an in swinging corner from McLean found Lee Mair in the box. The defender rose to head toward goal only for the ball to be stopped by John Fleck before rippling the net. With the effort not cleared properly by the Rangers defence he was presented with another opportunity, this time dragging the ball wide of the waiting goal.

The only goal of the game came in the 24th minute when Kyle Bartley put Rangers ahead. With Bougherra being played into the box from a Diouf throw, he delicately chipped over the waiting defence for Bartley, who simply connected with the ball to put the visitors one up.

Bartley goal

By the half hour point in the game and with the visitor’s one goal to the good, the game didn’t give the impression of two teams who were perilously in need of the three points on offer. Instead what it offered was two teams, neither of whom were able to take control of the game, were wasteful in possession and who lacked a killer edge in the final third of the park.

As the match limped toward half time, Maurice Edu had a decent opportunity to put Rangers two goals up. As the ball fell to the Rangers midfielder just outside the St Mirren area, Edu blasted his effort high over the bar, summing up a dull forty-five minutes.

With the teams re-emerging for the second half, the action got underway much in the same fashion the first half had finished in.

The home side had the best opportunity in the early stages of the second forty-five minutes when the ball fell to Paul McGowan. After McLean’s corner had found its way to the back post, McGowan found himself unmarked with time and space on the ball. Instead the on-loan Celtic player snatched at the ball, watching his attempt soar high over Allan McGregor’s goal.

It was then Edu’s turn again to blast over the bar, in what was becoming an afternoon where little was hitting either target.

Midway through the second half Walter Smith relinquished his usual viewing area of the main stand, making his way to the technical area. At times looking to be deep in consultation with both Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall, you got the feeling he knew one goal may not be enough to deliver the three points his side required.

With this Smith introduced youngsters Kyle Hutton and Gregg Wylde to the action for David Healy and John Fleck, in an attempt to shore the team up and give it the momentum to get over the finishing line.

Just after the arrival of the Rangers substitutes, it was Maurice Edu again who should have put the game beyond the home side. After some neat work from Steven Davis, his ball down the left found Edu in acres of space inside the St Mirren area, only for the American to waste the opportunity firing his shot wide of the target.

Davis was Rangers stand out player throughout the game and went close to notching a goal himself when his shot from outside the box narrowly went over the bar.

With only one goal in the game, the Buddies continued to press Rangers in search for an equaliser with Jim Goodwin testing Allan McGregor with a shot from distance, only for the Scottish international to collect comfortably.

As Rangers were trying to see out the match, van Zanten wasted what was to be the final opportunity of the game for St Mirren. After receiving the ball from sub Craig Dargo just inside the visitors penalty box, van Zanten’s right footed effort whizzed past the post, and with that any hope of St Mirren getting anything from a hard fought encounter.

The win for Walter Smith’s men in Paisley consigns St Mirren to their 8th home defeat of the season, now matching fellow strugglers Hamilton, who also boast the appalling record at home this season.

Although this will be viewed as an expected victory for Walter Smith’s team, the veteran will no doubt be aware there is still an enormous task to be faced in trying to stop Neil Lennon’s team from marching on toward the league title.

The defeat leaves Danny Lennon’s men still toying dangerously above nearest relegation candidates Hamilton, who also lost at the weekend to the other half of the Old Firm.

In what was not a particularly entertaining clash at St Mirren Park, by far the most exciting part of the afternoon was the frequent thunderous roars, not from either set of fans but the jumbo jets departing Glasgow airport, destined for sunny horizons in a monotonous afternoon in Paisley.


Teams


St Mirren

01 Gallacher

02 van Zanten

05 Mair

06 Potter

07 Murray

08 Thomson

10 Higdon

11 Goodwin (80, Dargo)

16 Travner

19 McGowan

45 McLean (90, Mooy)

Substitutes

12 Samson

40 Lamont

09 Dargo

17 McAusland

27 Cregg

20 Lynch

33 Mooy

Rangers

01 McGregor

03 Weir

07 Edu

08 Davis

10 Fleck (72, Wylde)

12 Foster

15 Healy (72, Hutton)

16 Whittaker

17 Diouf

21 Bartley

24 Bougherra

Substitutes

25 Alexander

28 Kerkar

39 Wylde

41 Hutton

45 Cole

48 Hemmings

Goal(s):

24, Kyle Bartley (Rangers)

Man of the Match

David van Zanten

Bookings:

Jure Travner (St Mirren)

Attendance

5,405

Referee

William Collum

One Response to St Mirren 0-1 Rangers 6/3/11

  1. Pingback: Sunday afternoons SPL action « The Commentary Box

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