Match Ratings – Rangers 2-0 St Johnstone

folder_openMatch Ratings, Rangers FC

A cold evening at Ibrox as Rangers looked to gain yet another win in the league as St Johnstone came to Glasgow. A team who have suffered a real dip in form from last season, Saints found themselves propping up the rest of the league going into this match, but of course every team who is looking for some sort of rejuvenation will always see a result at Ibrox a good way to start that, and even a draw would give their side a lift. This was evident given the way that Callum Davidson set up his side, with the idea to back the defensive third and make it difficult for us to break them down. This is something that we have to accept teams will sometimes do, which makes our game harder to execute and requires a player or two to really step up and make the difference. We so nearly found ourselves ahead early on in the game on quite a few occasions, some good work down the left was just not quite enough to beat the St Johnstone goalkeeper, and even when he was beaten, the woodwork would deny a thunderous shot from the edge of the area. We continued to put the pressure on, having to be patient at times with the build up due to Saints having 10 players behind the ball so often, but we would eventually take the lead just before half time as a corner from the left was headed on and nodded in at the back post. It was a goal that our efforts merited, and we needed to make sure that we kept up that pressure to score that vital second goal.

Fortunately, it did not take long for us to get that second, thanks to a quick counter attack on the rare occasion the St Johnstone defence was much higher up. Scorer turned provider as he was played in and he advanced toward goal with defenders chasing him, but a smart pass across goaled allowed our winger to find the net, having been unfortunate not to have done so in the first period. This forced St Johnstone to come out more and find chances to pull a goal back, but our defence stood up well to this and our keeper was hardly tested. It resulted in them resorting to diving in the box to try and win a penalty but the referee was well positioned to make the correct call on that one. The game would slow down in pace toward the closing stages as fans in the stands were more and more interested in the potential of our nearest opponents dropping points up north. And even though this was not to be the case in the end, our lead at the top of the table was once again the same as it was at the start of the night, the absolute minimum expectation that fans had when arriving at Ibrox on the night.

Here is how you rated our players from a stuffy but important victory against St Johnstone.

Allan McGregor – 6.1 (7)

There really is hardly anything to say about McGregor here due to him having only one save to make which came in the last few minutes of the game, and it was as straightforward as you could want. He still has to remain sharp in the last minute as he is in the first of course, and that has been a constant habit of his over his glittering Rangers career.

James Tavernier – 6.3 (7)

He only had one shot at goal the entire game, which seems strange to say but it just shows you how that change in style is still very much the focus. We once again managed to “keep the zero” and it’s down to how we view our defensive plan. He had no bother in terms of his defensive duties, on the rare occasions St Johnstone got forward, so a simple enough night for the skipper.

Connor Goldson – 6.9 (7)

When an opponent is defending as deep as St Johnstone did, with so many defenders playing, then trying to play long balls over the top does not make sense, and thankfully Goldson was not looking to play these as much. He does gain an assist though as his header from a corner is what sets up Morelos for his goal, and he was a threat in the box on a few other occasions as well.

Calvin Bassey – 7.1 (7)

As half time approached, there was a frustration at our inability to break the opposing defence down, and we needed something different to break down the stubborn back line. Step up Bassey, or rather step forward as he did by unleashing his inner Bougherra and driving forward with the ball, eventually being tackled with the ball going out for a corner, the result of which saw us go ahead. A much stronger performance here off the back of a tougher game at Hearts, he did a really solid job defensively again here.

Borna Barisic – 6.4 (7)

There is still an importance in the set pieces that he is capable of producing, his corners on this occasion proving very important as it helped us find that breakthrough. The initial concern over him having to come off not long before the end were eased when it was revealed that he was simply not feeling well, and credit to him for playing as long as he did whilst feeling like that, so you would imagine he will not be absent from our back line for too long.

Glen Kamara – 6.6 (7)

I’ve seen some who have criticised Kamara for his game due to his passing game, and as much as I can appreciate where people are coming from with this, I think when you consider what his job is, he had a better game than what that criticism suggests. He does exactly what any midfield sweeper should do, and the onus is on those in front of him to create the chances. I continue to be very happy with how Kamara has been doing playing this position.

Scott Arfield – 6.4 (6)

A less impactful match from Arf, which could possibly come down to the spaces that he likes to run into not being available to him due to the number of players playing near their own penalty area. The chances he had were difficult ones that you wouldn’t expect him to convert, and he just wasn’t finding the right passes often enough to break through the lines. But that’s not his game, he is a runner and not a passer, and I’m sure he would have had more success from an individual sense had he come off the bench after 70 minutes or so when the game would have naturally opened up more.

Ianis Hagi – 6.4 (6)

A huge number of shots at goal, one of which in particular he really should have scored. A miss from his best chance, his earliest, in a way set the tone for what would be, in the main, another strange performance to analyse. We often say of players who we believe in that he played through a game where he remains in a spell of poor form, but whether we call it poor form or just a lack of being involved in key match moments is up to you I guess, although it is worth bearing in mind that he plays the ball which ultimately releases Morelos to set up goal two. 2 goals and 1 assist as he is halfway through the season, where as last season he finished on 7 goals and 10 assists. Is it possible for him to reach those numbers by the end of the season? Absolutely. Do we believe he can whilst playing the way he is? That’s more open to debate for many.

Joe Aribo – 8.2 (8) – Man of the Match

I can’t stop thinking about the way he controlled the ball from such a great height. It’s the kind of thing that these “skillers” on Youtube base a video on. For it to land at his foot and for him to just kill it dead, it was really super, and something that he has shown he can do before, as the goal against Hearts required equally good control for him to execute it. Unlucky not to score after his shot from 25 yards out hit the post, but again he proved an important part of our teams performance, and has a subtle yet important role in our second goal.

Ryan Kent – 7.4 (7)

You would forgive him for thinking that he would do everything but score, but in the end he would score the easiest chance of the lot. He was a real threat from the left in the first half, having a number of shots just inside the box blocked by either goalkeeper or defender. He was much more of a threat than other forwards, but it just wasn’t quite happening for him in front of goal. But as Morelos was running through on goal not long into the second half, Kent offers Alfredo a second option which he takes and it is tap in for the winger, and a well deserved goal.

Alfredo Morelos – 7.3 (8)

This was a really good game from Morelos, a goal and an assist, he deserves the vast majority of the credit for the result. His goal comes from good movement at the back post from the corner, anticipating the ball falling there from Goldson’s header. We have seen him score goals like this before, it’s good forward play to do that. And having the presence of mind to play the pass for the second goal, rather than taking on the shot which so many would have expected him to do, was great to see. He is enjoying a good spell up front right now, at a very good time for him to have one.

Fashion Sakala – 5.4 (6)

On in the hope to use his speed to take advantage of the tiring St Johnstone back line, but nothing came off for him in that respect.

Nathan Patterson – 4.9 (5)

It is interesting that he is the one who comes on rather than centre back Simpson, to then see Bassey move to left back. I wonder who that says more for, whether it be Bassey (seen more as a centre back now), Simpson (no future in the team) or Patterson (talented enough to play a number of roles).

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