Sunday, 10 May 2015

The two masterstrokes by McCall which made Rangers beat Queens

It had always been the bogey ground. Only one victory had been secured over James Fowler’s well-drilled Queen of the South side this season, a side who sit in fourth place in the Championship.

That victory itself was an unconvincing 4-2 at Ibrox last year, and the other three results since then read one draw and two defeats, one goal scored.

The inability of Rangers to score at Palmerston Park, never mind win, was becoming a mild mental block, with even Stuart McCall’s buoyed side tasting its first piece of defeat in Dumfries since the former Motherwell boss took over.

So when Rangers ended up paired with the Doonhamers in the quarter finals of the playoffs, it was with strong conviction I suggested that victory over Queens was the biggest potential hurdle between Rangers and the SPL, especially at their own patch.

And when the team was announced, McCall sprung a major surprise. Not only was nuisance striker Nicky Clark benched, but Steven Smith, previously considered borderline surplus and primed for an exit next month, took his place in a rejigged formation which saw the controversial choice of a back three with only two recognised defenders; Zaliukas and McGregor, with the last place taken up by Lee Wallace.

Yes, marauding left wing back Wallace found himself in a far more restricted role at CB, while Smith took up the LW, with Foster his counterpart on the opposite side.

However, the biggest surprise of all saw young Andy Murdoch charged with stifling Queens’ big creative threat, Danny Carmichael.

The Doonhamer barely had a sniff as MOTM Murdoch stuck to him like glue, and this made the home side borderline impotent. It was an absolute masterstroke, showing that McCall does indeed have the tactical nous to handle Fowler’s men, in concert with that surprising defensive selection.

It all worked wonderfully. The home side was restricted to half chances, and Rangers’ backline and midfield kept their shape throughout, with high-energy and compression.

True, creatively Rangers did not offer a massive amount themselves, but Miller did score an offside goal before Smith’s mercurial free kick stole a march on the Dunfries side.

Rangers went in at half time a goal up, the first time in three attempts they had managed to hold a clean sheet for the first 45 on the road here.

The second half saw more of the same, but an arguable foul which led to two Rangers players being felled in the box among a mass of bodies went unpunished by referee Alan Muir and Lyle mopped up the free aerial ball as Bell slipped as well.

But this is as close as they got – when Dean Shiels brilliantly headed past Clark on 74 minutes, it was just deserts for a genuinely superior performance from Rangers.

This was not quite the level of vintage which beat Hibs and Hearts, but it did show McCall’s ability to alter an approach having learned from a previous mistake – and while the home side probably had more possession, Rangers did far more with theirs and the two goals were fair reward for the visitors.

Queen of the South have not won at Ibrox since 2012, that penalty shoot out in the cup, but that was a very different Rangers team under very different management.

If all is pure and holy, they should not win this time in the return leg either.


  1. We sat in and stopped their counter-attacking. Not rocket science or masterstrokes. If certain people had done their job properly the same tactic could have been employed in the previous 2 encounters.

  2. Well said my man. If certain people had any shame they would not be still robbing our club of a fortune

  3. Yes, well, lets not cream our pants just yet,, 1 game at a time. Rangers have been inconsistant all season. Once we have a good result, the next week is disastrous,, We need 11 warriors in every single minute of every single game, no exceptions., I just hope Stuart and Kenny can keep them fired up and not rest on their laurels,, every one of those players owes us fans promotion,,!!

  4. lets point the finger of blame once we get back to where we belong...part one of six completed,,,,onward and upward,,,,cmon the gers.

  5. Never read this article......fell of my fucking chair when I read the headline...
    .....master stroke.....beating Queens....


  6. Deary me, a master stroke to beat part time players.

  7. It was no master stroke fans pressure picked the team the booing of mculloch got him droped and the team will grow in confidence and go on to win promotion if mcoll brings him back the party is over W A T P

  8. QotS are a full-time team... Alas, I fully expect facts to be missing from the great unwashed psyche..

    1. I don't care if their aw bastard Pele's love children....

      Come tae fuck....queen of the fucking south......

  9. Correction.....make that Maradona's love children. Forgot auld Pele boy's tadger disnae work. Haha


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