Rangers’ quest for the Scottish Cup ended at the Quarter Final stages after recent opponents St Johnstone prevailed following a penalty shoot out. For the first time this season in a domestic match, Rangers failed to live up to the expectations of the fans in a home match, and the performance that came along with it was in many parts dreadful. So unlike how we have seen our team play throughout the season, the fact that we would exit the competition on the night was not down to horrible luck, nor down to a disgraceful referee performance, the team simply just did not do enough. We even found ourselves ahead in the game in extra time, and still managed to find a way to not reach the semi finals, meaning this Rangers team that has done some magnificent things in the league, and whose performance in the Premiership will go down as one of the great seasons, has not made it to Hampden once over the two competitions. That, as a cup performance, is not good enough, it never will be good enough. The performance started off in a similar way to the midweek meeting, not imposing ourselves on the game until much later, and by then the fans’ worry would have been justified. St Johnstone are a good side, they have a set up that works for the players they have, and that in no way is said to disregard their achievement, it is a style that is not “backs to the wall” as such, but it is a style that works. 0-0 after 90 minutes, with chances for Rangers that should have been converted and a couple of opportunities for St Johnstone in the closing stages that were well stopped.
The second half of extra time was where the action was. The hope of a tiring St Johnstone side did not come to pass, but a ball in from the right was headed in by our returning captain, finding himself up the park as he so often likes to be. The team should have been able to see the game out from there, but much like our other cup exit this season, they managed to concede a corner in stoppage time. Terrible marking, and total penalty area panic meant that Davidson’s side equalised right at the end to set up a penalty shoot out. Our first spot kick was saved, and at that point you knew it was done. All the St Johnstone penalties were converted, and a second penalty was saved against us, and that was all there was to it. We now have three games left in a season that is done, and we must now look ahead to next season and to build on the league success by adding more trophies on top of that. We, as a support, demand as much success as possible. And cup competitions are included in that.
Here is how you rated our players from this unsuccessful Scottish Cup tie against St Johstone.
Allan McGregor – 7.1 (6) – Man of the Match
If the entire team had the same desire to win as Allan McGregor, I am sure we would not be feeling the frustrations we now feel. As a shot stopper he was once again showing good moments, some one on one situations he had to be wise to were very well dealt with. He comes in for criticism in terms of not coming off his line for set pieces. The fact of the matter is, we should be used to this by now, and we should not expect it from him. There is every chance he makes a dramatic save on the line instead. Although, whether he was making it clear to his defence there was a giant goalkeeper in a luminescent kit to be marked at the corner is worth considering. He doesn’t save a single penalty in the shoot out, but goalkeepers are never going to be criticised in those situations.
James Tavernier – 6.6 (6)
Well, he is back amongst the goals which is certainly a bonus to have that back. Whether he is back to his defensive best is a different question. It might be because I am looking for it (which is unfair) but I just get the sense his defensive solidity is currently missing from before. Perhaps it is something that he will gain with time again, but he doesn’t give off the air of confidence that you were used to before his lay off. To find himself in the box as he did so late on does show that his desire for getting forward has not deserted him, at least. Rising to head past Clark to give us the lead, a goal that so many thought was going to do it, and immediately thoughts of whether he goes back to the top of the player of the year list start to form. Not long after, though, a poor penalty that is saved sets the wheels in motion for our ultimate exit. Hopefully that penalty prowess will return as well.
Connor Goldson – 6.1 (6)
St Johnstone found ways to attack Rangers on the counter that required both our centre backs to be sharp and wise to any potential dangers. Goldson, as usual, did his job although was not remarkable during the entirety of the match. I would say, he should be one of the first to recognised the set piece danger right at the end and deal with it. Like the whole team, it seems, late stages of cup ties hold some sort of block for him, and panic in a defensive situation rarely works out well.
Filip Helander – 6.1 (6)
The Goldson and Helander partnership should not be broken up unless it absolutely has to. An injury to the Swede in extra time forced him off, although he did look as though he could walk it off, but the manager did the right thing by taking Helander off to avoid aggrevation of a potential knock. He has still not been on the field when Rangers have lost a match, although that record is a bit less impressive when you consider he has started games that have eventually failed to do the job.
Borna Barisic – 5.9 (6)
It was not just his issue, Tavernier on the other side had similar problems with this, but the delivery from Barisic out wide was desperately inconsistent. This perhaps should have been a sign that things were not going to turn out the way we would expect them to. Too often he would play balls that would not beat the first man, or it would be the wrong decision to make a specific type of cross. Either way, this is slump for Borna, not consistent run of good games for a bit. Although, I would still say he won the duel on his side.
Joe Aribo – 5.1 (5)
No. Stop it. Stop playing Aribo in the middle. It does not work. You will get more out of him in the attacking third. When he is in the middle, he looks like he wishes he was further up the park, and that is a problem. It’s great having a player who can be versatile and play in a few different roles, but he is just not the type of centre mid that Gerrard needs in that area. When we play well, it’s because you have a Scott Arfield whose role is very specific. Aribo has been able to push up into the attacking third during games, and when he is able to do that regularly he looks better (it was his cross that got us the goal here for instance) but if the game is going a certain way and he requires to spend the majority of time in the middle third, nah, he isn’t the answer. And Steven Gerrard needs to understand that now and consider him as an attacking option only.
Steven Davis – 5.6 (6)
When we talk about this season, a lot of players had spells of really good games, but have not been able to retain that throughout the season. Perhaps the issue that we are seeing now is that too many players are not in that higher level of form and the performances reflect that. Only four players have really been consistent across the season, and Steven Davis is one of them. It’s why he should be on the POTY shortlist, it’s why he should be considered a legend of this club to still be doing it at this stage of his career. And even though it was not the best performance here, it was not as bad as many others in front of him.
Glen Kamara – 5.1 (5)
This is a return to the Glen Kamara of last season. The bravery of his game has gone missing, there is nothing he is doing that is a stand out moment. It feels like he has run out of gas somewhat, and this is where we see that when it comes to the summer, Rangers need to focus on building a midfield that will be able to compliment the consistency of the defence and the potential of the attack. Kamara is absolutely capable of being part of that, but I think games are catching up on him a bit and he needs an opportunity to get to that level again. There is nothing wrong with that either, but if we are honest, we are struggling to think of the last time Glen put in a really superb midfield display.
Ianis Hagi – 4.0 (5)
This is a damning rating on Hagi, but it shows that we now need to have a serious conversation about him. Ask yourself, what did Hagi do here? He was part of the attacking trio but did not look like an attacking threat at any stage. He tried one killer pass which did not come off, but other than that, there isn’t anything that a big fan of Ianis (of which I am one) can hang their hat on. This game required a big game player to step up and do something extraordinary to get the team through. That should be what Hagi can do. We have seen him do that in the past, in one of our greatest European nights of recent times. A great player, but he is capable of doing the business on a night like this. He didn’t, and as a result criticism is more than fair.
Alfredo Morelos – 5.1 (5)
So many chances to score, and he somehow couldn’t do it. Sure, the goalkeeper did a great job in saving these chances, but if we are going to legitimately put the price tag on Morelos that we all believe is correct, then he has to finish better than that. Taken off at the time he was, having just missed another excellent opportunity, he knew that he should have done far better with the chances given.
Ryan Kent – 5.0 (5)
Scott Wright – 5.0 (6)
Having looked good in midweek, the manager turned to Wright to try and amend the issues before it was too late. Sure, he had a well worked chance that was so good up until the finish, but it was that finish that we really needed and didn’t get.
Kemar Roofe – 3.9 (4)
A player of his talent, that we have seen this season. A player of his experience, playing against far better opponents than St Johnstone. A player who should easily be a starter in this team, but as we sit here now, he is not doing enough to earn a regular starting spot. We should not put the shoot out blame on him, or indeed anyone, although that run up is just asking for the shot to not go in. He has played his part this season, a stand out when others required him to step up, but right now it just is not happening for him. And he looks like a player that is just accepting that and is not confident of regaining that form.
Jack Simpson – 3.7 (5)
He could have made himself a hero by picking up the right man at the corner and dealing with it. But, this will go down as another game that he has entered and it has not worked out. Although there was not enough to see from him to make an ability assessment, so we cannot yet make a final judgement.
Jermain Defoe – 4.1 (5)
Comes on after they equalise to simply be a penalty taker. He took his penalty well. Sadly, others didn’t.