After what perhaps felt like an eternity, Rangers were back in action for the first time in 2020 with a Friday night game against Stranraer at a very cold Ibrox. As was expected, many fringe players were given a run out, a chance to impress the manager and prove that they have a part to play in the second part of the season. With the exception of one young prospect, however, the team laboured to a boring win against a hard working and stuffy team from a part of the country famous for a joke in Phoenix Nights. In much the same way as our friendly against Lokomotiv Tashkent in Dubai suggested, some players may well have played their way into Steven Gerrard’s thoughts, but some may well have played themselves out of his plans too.
Wes Foderingham – 7
He did not have a shot in anger to make a save against, had to deal with a couple of crosses and would receive the ball to feet a couple of times, and he would move the ball on with very little fuss. On the night we paid tribute to one of the greatest goalkeepers we have had in Bobby Brown, it is only fitting that we came away from this game with a clean sheet.
Nathan Patterson – 7 – Man of the Match
No one was really surprised that young Patterson would feature here, and much attention would be paid to the youth team player as to whether he could feature again in this very busy period for the team. Based on this performance, I’m not sure many, if any, fans would be troubled by that notion. He showed a real maturity in his play, particularly in an attacking sense, in that he would not just simply cross for crossings sake but take an extra touch and be sure that the ball he would play would find his man. He has clearly studied Tavernier and you could see echoes of our captains game in Nathan, and although he found aerial duels hard to win, and showed his age with a challenge which saw him booked, this was a really fine debut for the young man.
George Edmundson – 6
When you’ve two central defenders playing against the set up that Stranraer implemented, and considering who their sole striker was, you would maybe feel that this game would be one where we could see some good pieces of distribution and maybe a set piece threat from Edmundson. We didn’t really get that though, and his aerial presence is something that needs worked on I believe. He has the height for it, what he needs now is that killer instinct to get on the end of things. It may only take one successful attempt and that will click with him, we just need to wait and see.
Nikola Katic – 7
I smiled when the reception he received when his name was read out, given what he did last time out, and you had every impression that he would breeze through this game. To be honest, he did. Ryan Stevenson did not cause him any issues, and we saw that determination to win the challenge, by air or on the deck, which nullified our opponents already incredibly slim chances of doing anything of note.
Andy Halliday – 6
Would be easy for us to forget that we once felt Andy Halliday was a better option at left back than a certain Croat, mainly out of embarrassment. But it made sense for Halliday to get a run out tonight, but he was overshadowed by our young right back which should tell you all you need to know about Halliday’s worth to the team, on the park at least. At the start of the game we would be playing down the left hand side, but the ineffectiveness of both he and the players in front of him meant we would trust the inexperienced right hand side more and by the end it seemed the only sensible option to play toward. There is nothing discernible about his game other than his passion for the team. He isn’t a good crosser, he isn’t quick and he is not a top tackler, although he took a nasty one in the first half so credit is due to him for carrying on when others may have thought against it. Ultimately, for me, we are way beyond the days where we say Halliday as a useful foil, rather he is someone who can be a good dressing room influence, but his days at Ibrox are surely running out.
Scott Arfield – 6
The first goal of the decade, a great distinction for him. Not the sweetest of goals, but you have to be there to put them away. Normally this would be enough to suggest he had more than a standard game, but his appearance on the scoresheet was in my opinion the exception to what was an otherwise frustrating display. I have no issue with a player taking a number of shots from outside the area. Indeed, I would encourage this when you are against a flat back 5, plus extras, but far too often these were high and very unhandsome.
Steven Davis – 6
It’s often said that when we are playing well then so much of that is down to Davis and the tempo he sets. This applies both ways as when we are not at it, that tends to be down to a lack of Davis either being in the team or not playing well. Let’s be honest, we didn’t play well, and Steven Davis could have done more to make the game an easier watch for us. But this is thankfully an anomaly for him and you could say that if all the games to pick to ease yourself back into things, it was this one.
Ryan Jack – 6
Wearing the captains armband, which I see is being somewhat significant given Davis was also playing, this was again not as good a display as what we maybe would have wanted from him and the rest of the midfield. There weren’t enough penetrative passes, something that Jack in particular would have been advised to do I’m sure, he played the ball sideways far too often and his passes to the left often led to nothing yet he persisted with this. I perhaps felt that he did a fine job on the night, but that I believe was more down to the circumstances of the opponent. Had this been a premiership game, I think he would have been found out a lot more. But, like Davis, this is a game for him to wipe away those cobwebs.
Joe Aribo – 6
Sitting in a different area of the stadium from where I would normally be, I came across some different Bears who have very strong opinions on certain players. None more so than a gentleman a few rows behind me who had a real issue with Joe Aribo, specifically his commitment and lack of pace. I think we are all aware by now that his style is a more relaxed one, and are comfortable in the knowledge that he is more than capable of doing very good things in an attacking sense. I think, ultimately, this was not the kind of game for him to make a good impression, especially in that position. I think he would have had a better game in the middle funnily enough, but I’m not suggesting he revert back there at all, he absolutely should be a RW for the foreseeable.
Jermain Defoe – 7
Like Arfield, Defoe’s goal was significant, except in this case it was of personal significance, given he has now scored a professional goal in 4 decades. He deserved the goal as well, I thought he worked hard and got a few shots away which, given he had what felt like a community around him in the penalty box, was no mean feat. He won the penalty, took the penalty, scored the penalty, then got subbed off. I can’t imagine it gets much better than that as a minute for a footballer. He will be important these next few games, and the recent experience of playing against such a resolute back line could prove valuable for him.
Jordan Jones – 5
His first appearance for a number of months, and a lot of fans believe that he is someone who can come in and be an important player as part of the 18 in a matchday squad, whether it be from the start or from the bench. Not if he plays like that he won’t. No attacking advantages of note, and didn’t have any joy in getting past the three players who would surround him when he was in possession. Now that is a tough ask, but the quality of player he is up against suggests he should have done a lot better even so. Was he maybe trying too hard and just not making the correct decisions? In any case, he is in a very different environment to when he was last playing for us. His start is far from guaranteed, and he will have to work hard to earn that place. We will see if he has the stomach for that challenge.
Brandon Barker – 5
Taking off Jordan Jones made total sense, and gave Barker half an hour to make more of an impression than Jones did. If anything, Barker was slightly worse. He was guilty of all the same problems Jones had, only he wasn’t trying too hard, he just wasn’t trying. For a player we may look at as someone to bring off the bench to add some pace and flair, he has never done this. The games against Porto feel like the mutation in what will be Barker’s Rangers legacy.
Sheyi Ojo – 6
Comes on and plays the striker role so you maybe don’t anticipate him doing anything special, especially given recent outings from him, but he had a goal disallowed for offside which according to those sitting in better positions seemed very harsh, and was running at the defence and at least trying. I don’t think you can be too critical of his game.
Kai Kennedy – 6
A great moment for the young man to come on for his Rangers debut. The game was done though, Stranraer were happy to settle and based on the turgid display from our team I think we were as well. This outing is a reward for his efforts in the Colts side, I would hope he maybe gets another chance to do something of note.