This was not a game that will be kept long in the memory of those who attended, but a hard fought 3 points was gained against a stuffy Kilmarnock side. This was to be expected given Alex Dyer was in charge, a return to their old ways of being hard to beat and looking to grab something on the break, but our team kept at it and eventually worked the ball into a position for super sub Alfredo Morelos to score the only goal of the game. The Ibrox faithful would travel home content with the victory, less so with the performance but that shouldn’t be a slight on the individuals representing us on a cold Boxing Day afternoon.
Allan McGregor – 7
This wasn’t a complete walk in the park for our keeper, he had one or two very important interventions to make, but he did so with very little fuss. This was a day’s work that we would expect from our goalie at home, two or three saves but otherwise nothing to do.
James Tavernier – 7
I’m often amazed at the amount of energy James Tavernier possesses game after game after game. Where does he get it from? He was again finding himself in good attacking positions and was doing a very good job defensively. One or two stray passes let him down slightly but you cannot fault his work rate.
Connor Goldson – 7
Passing was the focus of his game, and there were some occasions where he played some magnificent cross field balls, as well as good short range passes, but there were other times that the ball was lazily punted up with no hope of an attacker getting to it. That is often a frustration for fans when it comes to Goldson, far too inconsistent in that respect. But let’s be honest, if he was consistent, he would be playing at a higher level than the SPFL. No defensive concerns of course.
Nikola Katic – 7
Defended in the manner we would anticipate, up for aerial balls and smashing the, back toward the opposition goal. Didn’t look as happy when the ball was on the deck, but another clean sheet that the big Croat can claim an important part of.
Borna Barisic – 7
As we have come to expect, we saw some lovely deliveries from wide once again from Barisic. He puts himself in a great position to earn 5-6 assists per game, he’s just unfortunate that they don’t get converted. Thought he did really well dealing with 1 on 1’s well when defending, he seems to be getting stronger as games go by. Just needs to be careful to cover his side a bit better when the opposition switch the play, a few times the right winger had plenty of time when he received the ball from the left.
Scott Arfield – 7
Passing was decent, made some clever runs where the ball just wouldn’t quite reach him (as can be the case quite often for Arf, he can be unlucky in that respect) but I think something he could do more is driving with the ball. With their defence and their midfield being the way it was, having someone who would drive through the middle could have been an avenue to explore, and I can see him doing that role well. So do it Scott!
Ryan Jack – 8 – Man of the Match
Covered the centre of the park really well, wasn’t afraid to have a few decent pops at goal (he’s been unlucky not to crack another like that since Ross County) and overall he imposed himself on the game really well, which was crucial to have someone in that position playing in such a manner. His pass to Aribo to set up the assist for the goal was the kind of ball he had been searching for for just over an hour, he should get a huge amount of credit for the goal.
Glen Kamara – 7
Did some things really well, particularly his movement off the ball and his dribbling on it, and was unlucky to not find the net with a shot that clipped the top of the crossbar. But as is often the way with Kamara there were plenty of things he did not do so well, namely his passing which can almost feel like a toss of a coin when he isn’t on it.
Joe Aribo – 7
This wasn’t as lung busting a performance from the Nigerian, but the intricacies of his play made the difference with his ball to Morelos for the goal, and in other moves he was unlucky not to make a similar impact.
Jermain Defoe – 7
Got the start ahead of Alfredo, with the likelihood being a bit more rest ahead of Sunday, and for the time that Defoe was on the park I thought he tried very hard and was making some really good runs but he just never got the opportunity to get a shot away in anger.
Ryan Kent – 6
This was a poor game for Kent. Far too often we would see moves break down due to wayward deliveries from the left, too many times losing the ball, or simply playing the safe option too often. When the away side set up in the way they did, we need someone like Kent to provide some magic. Had he been more on his game, the afternoon would not have felt as turgid.
Alfredo Morelos – 7
It’s been said before that Morelos does not make a good substitute, as he more often than not needs time to bed himself into a game. However, on this occasion, his introduction to proceedings made the difference. 7 minutes after arriving, he is played in by Aribo, tucks a shot under the keeper, and wheels away in celebration. He made the Kilmarnock defences lives a lot harder for the remainder of the game, a very good half hour run out for Buff before Sunday.
Greg Stewart – 7
Looked very happy to get a run out against his old side, whose fans didn’t seem to like him very much, and was doing all he could to get a goal, was happy to take on a few shots, and you just know he would have run straight to the away corner a la Aberdeen and had a big grin on his face.
Steven Davis – 7
Brilliant to see him come back from a spell on the sidelines, and he secured the game upon his arrival, the prime example being an excellent tackle that he won near the end in the middle of the park, which if it was a sentence would have sounded like “get back in your place.” Looking sharp ahead of the Old Firm tie.