“We were lucky to get a draw.” When this is an honest assessment from our manager, this should only apply to matches in Europe or the toughest of away fixtures domestically. To say this about a trip to the bottom side in the table is not acceptable for this Rangers side, any Rangers side really, but especially one that has been so impressive on the domestic front this season. The attitude of the side was wrong. Players who were given a chance to prove their worth to the side did not take this opportunity, and not being able to match the performance of our opponents was just a really poor affair to spectate for any Rangers fan. It should be stated that the game plan of Hamilton was a very good one, and they would have rightly felt heavily aggrieved had their last gasp equaliser not crossed the line and we escaped with three points. As a club we are used to Scottish sides given so much more against us than in regular games, this should not come as a surprise to the team that Hamilton were going to make things very difficult for us, yet the attitude of the squad seemed one of annoyance at the fact that this side dared to even make our team work hard at an early kick off which, incidentally, is a theme with the team this season, as dropped points in the league have come from early kick offs.
The game itself was one of few chances created, mainly down to the poor level of passing on display. The shots we had were limited to distance efforts and the better goal scoring chances were for Hamilton, who would have scored far more had it not been for an inspired goalkeeping performance. The goal we did score was in itself very fortuitous. A cross from the left was knocked into the net by a Hamilton defender, and from there it seemed so easy to see the game out. But despite having possession of the ball in the latter part of stoppage time, we found a way to lose the ball and for Hamilton to counter, and the defensive shakiness present through out the game peaked with a total failure to help out our keeper and the ball to eventually find its way into the net. It was a deserved outcome of the game, and hopefully a wake up call for the team that, despite the gap at the top still being huge, and despite the fact that we still remain unbeaten after 28 games, the attitude must not slack and we must continue to win games in the manner we know we are capable of. See it through properly Rangers.
Here is how you rated our players from our draw at Hamilton.
Allan McGregor – 8.6 (8) – Man of the Match
I mentioned after the last game how this is a goalkeeper who wins you a fair number of points over a season. Had we managed the game properly, he would have an absolute right to claim the three points were all from his effort, and even the 1 point gained from the match is all thanks to his work between the sticks. There was a number of brilliant saves made, across the span of the match, whether it be recovering a defensive mix up, a great save from a free kick and especially a magnificent double save when Hamilton looked absolutely certain to take the lead in the second half. The frustration from McGregor, both during the game and at the final whistle, was fully justified and I really hope that he carried on that anger in the dressing room after the match, because the players need a firm reminder about what is at stake and how this side needs to go about their business to achieve this. Allan McGregor, take a bow, a great performance that deserved so much better from your team mates.
James Tavernier – 4.9 (5)
Defending. That is the primary job of a full back when we are ahead so late on in a game we do not deserve to be. Why Tav finds himself so high up in an attempt to add to the scoreline is beyond me. That’s easy to say in hindsight, I get that, but when Hamilton get the ball in the last minute and Tavernier is in the position he is in, it is asking for trouble, along with the frankly pathetic attempt at a block of the pass from the left mid up the park. That particularly annoyed me, as did the whole defensive set up for that move, but for him to be in that position given the context of the game, that is what particularly frustatred me. Other than that, his free kick over the bar and his outside of the foot shot late on were the only other notable moments of his game here.
Connor Goldson – 5.8 (6)
One particular moment stood out for me when he played a way over hit pass to Helander which led to a real chance for Hamilton. This is when I come back to my point before around the team struggling with early kick offs, even the so reliable Goldson is making silly mistakes that could have cost us, and what he does, or lack thereof, for the equaliser is also very unlike what we are used to from the big man. Like so many of the team, he looked tired, but I don’t think it’s a stamina issue, more that this was an off day for him, like so many others in the team.
Filip Helander – 5.3 (5)
People will look to lay blame at the feet of Helander for the afore mentioned defensive mix up, but I’m not sure what you can expect from him in a situation
like that. That said, he did have a poor game here, very much akin to the poor game he had last season at Livingston, almost as though the plastic pitch was one he was struggling to adapt to. Given how impressive our defence has been this season, we can put this down to very bad luck that both centre backs have had off days at the same time.
Borna Barisic – 6.3 (6)
He is the player who will get the plaudits for in regards to the goal we scored. His cross from the left into a group of bodies was knocked over the line by the Hamilton defender, and it was exactly the type of ball that should have been played in that scenario, you just never know what will happen when a ball is knocked in like that. Given that Hamilton were pressing our right hand side a lot in the first half, I would be wondering why Barisic was not a bigger attacking threat during that period. I would also wonder why Lee Hodson looked like he was having the absolute game of his life with Borna struggling to deal with the former Rangers man.
Glen Kamara – 5.4 (6)
In a way, despite not making a great contribution to the match, you almost feel like saying thank goodness that Kamara was in the line up in the first place, as it could have been even worse for us from a defensive point of view had he not been playing. That said, his passing really was not there, almost as though the narrow pitch did not play to his strengths. He is due another one of his outstanding midfield displays now, hopefully that comes on Saturday, we would all be very grateful if so.
Bongani Zungu – 3.9 (5)
He has started a handful of games for Rangers since arriving on loan. The two most disappointing performances of the season, our League Cup exit and this game, have been games he has started. We know that he is a player that can help shore up a midfield, that’s his role in this squad and he has done so with no complaint. But given what we have seen from others in that position over the season, the simple fact of the matter is Zungu does not offer that. Yes, he offers a lot of solid work as an anchor, and I would point to the game at Lech Poznan for evidence of him doing that role a lot better when starting, but it feels like we are getting to the point where fans are just not seeing the benefit in looking to bring him in on a permanent basis. His contribution to this campaign is clear, but we probably should be looking elsewhere for a more long term solution.
Joe Aribo – 5.4 (6)
Probably the best chance of the first half was a shot on the edge of the area from Joe Aribo that curled agonisingly wide of the post, probably the most attractive attacking moment of the game. In that area he can be deadly, his issue seems to be in terms of work rate in getting back. If you look at the Hamilton goal, you can see him running back into the box to provide cover, which is what we need and I’m sure after the issue at Aberdeen it is something the coaching staff have been working on with him. But once he gets in there he just seems like a body just standing there hoping that the ball does not fall his way. A lack of proper defensive urgency in there that again needs to be looked at if being a CM instead of a CAM (which I still think is the long term answer for him) is the way forward.
Ianis Hagi – 5.3 (6)
Ianis also had an effort in the first half that curled over the bar in what was his only moment of note in the match really. The issue he had was down to the lack of service that all the attackers were receiving, and as a result he had to track back which meant he got sucked into the midfield battle, meaning his creativity was reduced.
Cedric Itten – 5.2 (6)
The criticism of Bongani Zungu seemed to go hand in hand with criticism for Cedric Itten, but you have to look at the two players in isolation and I actually felt that Itten was trying a lot inspite of not being a threat, his future seems nowhere near as uncertain as the South African’s. His problem was down to the lack of service he was receiving from those around him. There was very little in the way of crosses into the box for him to get his head to. That is what he is in the team to do, he is a major threat in situations like that, so it was very disappointing not to see that opportunity fall.
Ryan Kent – 5.1 (6)
He made some interesting forward runs during the match, one or two efforts unlucky not to test the Hamilton keeper more, so he was giving a fair effort as he always does when looking to create opportunities. But, and this is really important for me, why is he looking to try and beat a man in the box when there is 60 seconds left of the game, and not instead running the ball into the corner, holding possession and helping secure the three points. If it’s 2-0, absolutely fine, but there comes a point where you need to think of the overall result as opposed to individual moments. That annoyed me. Something so simple, game management, yet a lack of thinking through a situation like that.
Ryan Jack – 6.6 (7)
This was a good performance off the bench as the midfield suddenly had a lot more control with his presence. He has looked good on his return and the manager will maybe see his place on the subs bench here as a mistake. The game could well have gone differently had he started this match.
Kemar Roofe – 5.1 (5)
The same could be said for a few of the players dropped to the bench from the starting line up on Wednesday, including Kemar Roofe, although again I feel he would be better served on the right of the attacking trio. The news that his suspension will be appealed is very welcoming, and given the other incidents in Scotland that have been deemed “not proven” the result of this appeal will be extremely interesting.
Steven Davis – 6.4 (7)
Borna Barisic will get the credit for the goal but the magnificence of Steven Davis in coming on and providing an extra bit of midfield control, as well as forward momentum, cannot be understated. Hopefully the chance to have a bit of a rest having not started will mean he can feature a lot more in the coming weeks from the start, as we have always looked a better side with an on form Steven Davis playing.
Scott Wright – 5.4 (5)
A disappointing result for a Rangers debut but the way Scott Wright looked in flashes shows encouragement that he is the kind of player that will work really well in Steven Gerrard’s team. He looked hungry to get on the ball and move forward with it, and was unfortunate not to have the ball fall to him in a better position in the box as he could have had a shot at goal which, given where he was, could easily have hit the net. Early signs of real potential in a Rangers shirt for Scott.