Stenhousemuir v Rangers at Ochilview Park, Stenhousemuir on 19.4.14
SPFL Division One Att 2,767
Stenhousemuir 0 Rangers 4 [Smith 31, Shiels 35, 77, McCulloch 65 pen]
The Warriors went into this game on the back of a twelve game unbeaten run. This was always going to be their biggest task as Rangers would have been intent on not suffering another shock after the 3-3 draw at Ibrox. Stenhousemuir made only one change to the starting eleven from the fortunate victory over East Fife the previous week with Sean Dickson replacing Sean Lynch. This meant that rookies Ciaran Summers and Robbie Duncan kept their places for this game.
In the 5th minute Rangers created the first opening with Jon Daly glancing a Fraser Aird cross wide of the target. Seconds later Cammy Bell was called into action at the other end to prevent a Chris Smith kick out going into the net as it was on target to sneak in if the Rangers player been lacking in concentration.
It had been a decent start for the home side and they had the first proper shot from either side on target in the 8th minute when Dickson picked out Ben Greenhalgh who stabbed the ball towards goal but lacked power and Bell was able to save.
Richard Foster should have done better than shoot wide in the 18th minute after Daly miss-hit a shot and Foster with time to take advantage failed to do so. Bryan Hodge showed drive to make a probing run and shot in the 20th minute that was saved by Bell. That was the best that it got though for the home side as Rangers took the lead in the 31st minute when the ball was played across the 18 yard box to Steven Smith who dispatched the ball past Chris Smith with a clinical finish. This was the league champions first shot on target and they doubled their lead with their second four minutes later. Nicky Law opened the heart of the defence up with a through ball that was gathered by Dean Shiels and he fired a tremendous shot with the outside of the foot past Smith.
Rangers by this time had taken a grip on the game and this counter gave the impression of game over for the Warriors who were struggling to make inroads against a Rangers defence that was looking more comfortable as the game progressed.
The second half took a while to get going and although Daly had an effort saved by Smith there was few chances at either end of the pitch. Josh Watt and Summers combined to create an opening in the 58th minute for Dickson but the strike took the slightest of deflections to go wide of the target.
The first booking of the game came in the 61st minute when Iain Black was cautioned for dissent, but it was the next card that had the biggest impact on the game. Robbie Duncan appeared to trip Nicky Law and thus stopped a goal scoring opportunity in the 65th minute. He was sent off and Lee McCulloch converted the penalty. It looked a penalty at the time but Duncan appeared to get his shorts almost torn off him just before the award so it could have quite easily been a Stenhousemuir foul.
Despite being down to ten men the Warriors didn’t shore up the defence and indeed were at times a 3-3-3 formation with John Gemmell coming on to try and add a physical presence to the Stenhousemuir attack. As could be expected Rangers were able to hit on the counter attack without too much resistance and they scored the fourth in the 77th minute when Bryan Hodge was dispossessed and the ball went to Nicky Law who once again showed his quality with a curling effort that deserved to win a game at a higher standard than this.
Rangers should really went nap in the 86th minute when Nicky Clark found himself with only Chris Smith to beat but the keeper brought off a great save and then the rebound was blocked for a corner.
There was a touch of controversy in the 88th minute when Bilel Mohshi handled as he cut out a through ball to Darren Smith. He was booked but Smith would have had only the keeper to beat if he had got on the end of the pass and although there was some distance to be travelled it could quite easily been deemed a scoring opportunity.
The game ended without any further incident with Rangers worthy winners though the margin of defeat for Stenhousemuir could be seen as a bit harsh.
With Ayr and Stranraer both dropping points there is still a chance of getting into the play-offs but they need other results to go their way and realistically need to pick up two wins out of two to have a chance. They face a real test next week though against Airdrie who are one of the most improved teams in the league.
Stenhousemuir – C.Smith, Duncan [so 64], Greacen, McMillan, Summers, Hodge, Dickson, Rowson [Faulds h/t], Greenhalgh, Higgins [Gemmell 70] and Watt [D.Smith 61]. Subs not used – Lawson, Lynch, Shaw and Douglas.
Rangers – Bell, Foster, Mohshi [b88], Hutton, Smith, McCulloch, Aird, Black [b61][Faure 66], Daly[b68] [Clark 73], Shiels [Telfer 68] and Law. Subs not used – Crawford, Simonsen, Sinnamon and Gallcher.
Referee – John McKendrick Assistants – David McGeachie and Mike Roncone
|April 19, 2014||3:00 pm||SPFL Ladbrokes League 1||2013/2014||90'|
|Ochilview Park Stenhousemuir|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|