Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Mother of All Sucker-punches!

Co-operative Insurance Cup Final – St Mirren 0, Rangers 1 – Hampden

Of all the things I listed in my previous post about things to do to beat Rangers, I did leave out keep the back door locked.  Well, you would think that you don’t need to tell a team to keep the defence well manned.  I also assumed that the St Mirren players had the brains to keep the pressure on Rangers, rather than waste possession and perform fancy dan moves which give away said possession.  After all, the great sports teams are the ones who when they have their foot on your throat…  keep it there.

The match itself was a remarkable match, and not just for the fact it was won by a side reduced to 9 men.  Rangers have been streaking away with the Scottish Championship, yet for the first half they looked decidedly second best.  St Mirren’s 5 man mid-field overran Rangers.  St Mirren’s loan star Carey saw a lot of the ball, but unfortunately his delivery was poor, with crosses being constantly over hit.  One would think that certainly Celtic, but Rangers Scottish Cup replay opponents Dundee United might be taking notes.

Mehmet had a run at goal earlier on which was cleared.  Just before half time Steven Thompson had a shot cleared off the line by Alexander, while from the resulting corner Barron had a shot come off the bar.  Mehmet also had a shot saved by Alexander before the sides retreated for some respite.

Rangers started the stronger side in the second half, partly down to Rangers re-shaping their side to match St Mirren’s 3-5-2 formation.  But St Mirren still had chances, Mehmet had a shot which Alexander held on-to by his fingertips.  With 10 minutes gone in the second half, Rangers were reduced to 10 men.  Rangers broke up the field after Brady was tripped by Kevin Thompson, who then barged his way into Potter.  While Miller and Mair were indulging in some handbags at 40 paces, the ball broke back to Steven Thomson, who as soon as he had passed the ball on was caught with a high and wild tackle from behind from his near namesake Kevin.  The other near namesake on the pitch, referee Craig Thomson had no option but to send Kevin Thomson off.

Higdon had an excellent chance to open the scoring, but pulled his shot wide.  He was right in front of goal, and should have scored.  This bizarrely was the last chance St Mirren got as they were shortly to have a 2 man advantage.  A ball forward by Brady saw substitute Craig Dargo goal side of Rangers defender Danny Wilson, who pulled Dargo back.  It was a clear goal scoring opportunity, so Wilson had to go.  It was the foul which would go on to win the game for Rangers.

At this point St Mirren let the situation go to their heads.  Rather than keep the ball and tire Rangers out, St Mirren kept on playing it into the box.  Rangers were now decamped in their own box, keeping things tight and minimising St Mirren’s opportunities.  With seven minutes to go a mistimed piece of trickery gave Rangers the ball and finally some momentum to go forward.  Weir found Rangers substitute Naismith on the right and in space, who crucially had 2 players inside and out of position St Mirren defenders. His cross found the first player on the inside, Kenny Miller, who was goal side of his defender.  His header found the far corner of Gallacher’s goal, Rangers had produced the mother of all sucker-punches.

For Rangers, it’s yet another trophy to polish.  This win will be a masive boost going into the Scottish Cup replay on Wednesday, and on to the Championship, which is only 6 wins away for Rangers now.  For St Mirren, the ramifications might be more ongoing.  Gus MacPherson has a good record as St Mirren manager, but it is a major blight that most of his teams are incredibly profligate in front of the white sticks.  Even back when the Saints won the Scottish League Championship/First Division, St Mirren were hammering sides 0-0.  The four goals we plundered at Ross County just before Christmas that season being our biggest win.  The inability to score is worrying at the best of times, to be so in a major cup final while being 2 points off the bottom of your league is even more so, which is one of the reasons why there are so many Gus-o-phobes among the St Mirren support.
MacPherson has been tipped for better things than St Mirren for some time now.  It’s time to start showing the substance.

1 comment:

  1. What do we know? Cracking result last night, you spend all of Sunday waiting for one goal and suddenly four come along at once!

    Not that The Scotsman can get the score right: