With yet another league victory out the way, and the 11th in a row, Rangers had to really battle against a ‘physical’ St Mirren side who were intent on ‘getting at them’ throughout this match, especially inside the opening four minutes. Referee Steven McLean put a stop to it with a yellow for a half way line kung-fu assault from Buddies’ veteran enforcer Jim Goodwin, something Andrew Dallas failed miserably to do in midweek, and it stopped this one spiralling out of control.
But with the need to roll their sleeves up, how did the Rangers starting XI perform in arguably the hardest-fought away win of the season, outwith Dumbarton?
Foderingham: 8 Had his best match in the number 1 jersey. Made a few very good saves, made short work of clearances, and was robust with cross balls. He has been getting better and better after an unsure start, and is now clearly by some distance the best goalkeeper at Ibrox since Allan McGregor.
Tavernier: 6.5 Did not maraud as much as he would normally, although those runs increased as the match went on. Distribution was not at his expected standards either, as several crosses went errant earlier in the match. But he tuned his game as time wore on and nearly put one on a plate for Halliday, who really should have finished it.
Wallace: 7 There was next to no threat down the Buddies’ right, with the captain blocking most assaults, leading Mallan no option but to cut in every time. Got forward well enough too. A solid display.
Ball: 8 This lad is looking really good – a better foil for either Kiernan or Wilson than each other, such is his composure on the ball and ability to use it with intelligence. He also has no issue getting stuck right in, and for now, is in place on merit.
Kiernan: 7 Good aerially and was happy to do the mucky dirty defensive stuff. Not the most articulate on the ball, nor the best reader of the game, but that is why a foil like Ball suits him.
Halliday: 6 Quiet and lacking impact, Halliday just seems a little off-form right now – wasted a glorious chance to seal the points and looked frustrated with himself more than once. But he did make a few very good tracking runs to snuff out some danger.
Holt: 7 Another efficient display and the match-winner – Holt is consistent and one of Rangers’ best players entirely – his goal was wonderful and as always he worked hard to link midfield with flanks and attack.
Zelalem: 5 An afternoon to forget for the youngster – everyone has an off-day, and this was his – several passes went to opponents, and he looked completely off the pace. Finally got a hint of form at 50 minutes but by then Warburton had had enough and hooked him.
Waghorn: 7 One cannot help feeling he is wasted out on the wing – he worked hard, tirelessly, and never stopped trying and running, but his best position is striker and with him in such hot form there, why accommodate anyone by shifting him wide? But he did assist Holt’s goal so overall he has to be happy with his contribution.
Miller: 5 Desperately struggling to grab any form – the man’s attitude is excellent, and he never gives up, but little is coming off for him right now and he cannot score for love nor money. Missed at least one excellent chance but looked like a hundred retries would not have yielded a goal. His drought continues.
McKay: 7 A decent running flanking day – not his most sparkling show ever but he was always available, even if he did not always get used. Frequently tearing down the left wing and showed some fine defensive support too.
Shiels: 5 Solid enough but little impact. Just helped shore up midfield and slightly less wasteful than Zelalem had been.
Clark: 6 His midweek goal added a bit of spark to his play – looked more confident and helped to keep pressure off the defence.
Aird: 3 Not really sure why he was brought on, nor why he replaced McKay.