Match Ratings – Rangers 2-1 Hibernian

folder_openMatch Ratings, Rangers FC

It was Armed Forces Day at Ibrox on last Sunday, a chance for the support to pay tribute to and thank some of the world’s real heroes. We were also in need of some footballing heroes in what was set to be one of the biggest games of our season, a top of the table clash with Hibs, who have looked very good at the start of their season. This felt like a huge game, one that the champions of Scotland should win to show they have what it takes to retain our crown. A much changed line up, the manager looking to freshen things up for a side whose performances of late have failed to inspire. A good chance for some to show that they deserve to stay in the starting line up, an opportunity for others to prove their worth to it. A fairly promising opening few minutes were followed by us going behind, a cross from the right headed him and Ibrox, without any away support there, was eerily quiet for very quickly switching to shouts of anger and urging the side to get their act together. If you are going to concede, it’s best that it comes early enough for you to rectify the situation. The game had a little bit of back and forth about it, with some attacking attempts failing to cause any major problems for the Edinburgh side, before a key turning point in the tie when Hibs’ Ryan Porteous was shown a straight red card for an out of control lunge on one of our midfielders. A player who has form for thinking that good defending involves you having to try and kill any player you go into a challenge with, the lack of accountability could ultimately see him waste the talent he has. Jack Ross made the decision to put men behind the ball, and I can totally see why, but it did mean that we would dominate the ball, and it was up to us to take advantage of this. We gained more and more momentum as the first half went on, and in the end half time came about 5 minutes too soon for us as we were getting closer and closer to getting that equaliser.

The second half saw us continue this pressure, and bringing on more attackers for midfielders would pay off after a brilliant cross from the right was headed in by a player brought on by the management team not long before. That goal brought the energy needed to push on, the Ibrox crowd as loud as they the previous pre international break, and the winning goal came again from a cross, this time from the left, and headed in by our star forward who does enjoy a goal against this team. Hibernian responded by pushing forward but our side handled that, particularly in the middle, and the win was met by huge celebrations both in the stands and on the field, a signal of how important this game was seen by Gerrard and co. A win in our next game would see us open up a gap at the top of the table, we must make sure we are back and ready to do a quick fire Edinburgh double.

Here is how you rated our players after our home league win over Hibs.

Allan McGregor – 5.9 (6)

Hibs only had 4 shots at goal the whole game, one of which found the back of the net from a cross headed home by Nisbet. The forward rose well and looped the header over McGregor who I don’t think can do a great deal about it. What McGregor did that was important for us was really force the team forward when we were looking to capitalise on the man advantage. Shouting instructions, demanding the team get forward and then, as soon as we went ahead, we then get the antics which he is better at than any other goalkeeper in world football. Buying us the extra few seconds, it’s subtle yet if you know what you’re looking for, it’s a joy!

Nathan Patterson – 6.8 (8)

His inclusion is a real statement from the manager for a game like this which holds such importance to our season. Not about the man that Nathan replaced, but about Patterson himself. We know what he is good at doing, we know he is very reliable in the right back position, defends well and is getting better and better going forward. And he is key to our comeback, being the creator of our equaliser with a fantastic cross from the right which is a real turning point in the second half. It was the kind of moment where some players went to celebrate with Roofe, and others went to celebrate with Nathan. You could see what it meant to him, at the time and at full time, and he knows he has done a great deal to show that he is worthy of far more first team games than he is getting.

Connor Goldson – 6.1 (6)

He could probably do better in the aerial challenge when we went behind. He ends up the wrong side of the forward and, as much as I fully accept Nisbet does really well to score, it is made easier by a lack of proper challenge. Perhaps that’s too harsh, but it’s really the only thing that Goldson can be judged on as there were very few attacks down his side to deal with afterward.

Leon Balogun – 6.6 (7)

Yet again, he stands out more at the back and his pace is what makes a real difference on this occasion. Boyle for Hibs is a really quick forward and can cause a lot of problems but, as well as Barisic, Balogun did enough to stifle him. And that was all he really needed to do of course given the lack of forward moves from Hibs as a result of going a man down.

Borna Barisic – 6.2 (8)

I have to say, I’m really surprised by this ranking. For me, this was Borna’s best game since the Old Firm tie, and in fact there were a lot of things here that were even better than that game as well. I thought he looked a lot better defensively, perhaps a lot more blame is being placed at him for their goal than I think is deserved, but of course the winning goal comes from his ball from wide. His delivery overall looked better all game, but this could well be that moment that I’ve been hoping and waiting for. It’s an excellent ball in, and his celebration was akin to how Patterson felt after our first, as he knew he had made a vital contribution. I’m less of a fan of the idea that he only does this right before an international break though, so I do hope this form can continue when he returns.

Glen Kamara – 5.9 (6)

You don’t need to play Kamara when you are going all out in attack, against a team that have their entire outfield behind the ball. He rarely makes a strong impact in the final third, so his subbing off early in the second half made total sense and is something that we rarely see from Steven Gerrard and a huge amount of credit should go to him for making the call when he did, as there would have been a time that this would just not have been an option.

John Lundstram – 7.5 (8) – Man of the Match

I think we all now feel far more confident and happier with Lundstram in the midfield, and even though we get a very different performance from him than we do from Davis, there is a reliability of how he is playing that makes our midfield far stronger. Passing well, making sensible decisions, and being really strong in the tackle, that anchor in the centre, to the point where we could just continue to bring on forwards knowing that Lundstram was more than capable of sweeping in the middle. As things stand, it feels harsh to think of not starting him in any of our upcoming games.

Joe Aribo – 6.0 (6)

We can only be thankful that Aribo’s leg was not planted when the challenge from Porteous happened, otherwise this would have been the last time we would have seen Joe for a long time. His extra attacking moves from midfield proved important when we would retain all of the ball, but as much as he wasn’t terrible there was little that he ended up producing. But again, he walked off the field and remains fit, that’s the most important thing.

Ianis Hagi – 6.2 (7)

I wonder whether the constant rotation of forward players is something that is having a negative effect on Hagi in particular, as well as the team in relation to absolutely dominating a game. If you think of the other players who have played in this role, they are very different players from Ianis. If he has a run of games there, we quickly have that muscle memory of what happens when the ball goes out that way. That might be overthinking it, but it is clear that he is one of the most talented players in the league, yet has not had a consistent number of games playing at his absolute best.

Alfredo Morelos – 6.9 (7)

A natural finisher knows exactly what to do in situations like the winner. He knows where the ball from the left is going to go. He knows he can get there in time, and he knows that he has the beating of his opponent in the air, especially with the slight hop he does just as the cross is hit to force Hanlon to commit. A very good header, even if the keeper will feel he should have done better with it, and we end the wait for him to make a game winning contribution.

Scott Wright – 5.8 (6)

You play Wright to add extra speed in the attack, and it is another chance for him to show that he can be a long term successor to Ryan Kent, yet he doesn’t seem to have convinced enough to suggest we are at that point at this stage. He has still looked better when coming off the bench, his speed in comparison to tired legs makes a huge difference. Whether he can replicate that from the start, even though we are sure he can, it’s yet to be shown in practice.

Kemar Roofe – 6.7 (7)

Roofe scores goals. He has been able to do this, even when he has not been at his best in terms of overall performance. So when we are in need of a goal and needing extra fire power up top, he is absolutely the go to guy from the bench. And it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Yes, the ball from Patterson is what makes it, but the finish still requires good technique. He is very good in the air, nods the ball in and suddenly the momentum really changes in our favour. A great decision from the gaffer to bring him on, and a great finish from one of our best attackers.

Juninho Bacuna – 5.1 (6)

He is getting into the habit of coming off the bench to help hold up the play, although I hope he learns not to try daft wee bits of skill and just hold the ball next time! Thankfully there was little danger of that causing us problems, and hopefully he gets another opportunity at some point to show how good he can be in the centre from the start.

Steven Davis – 5.2 (6) Even though he only comes on for the latter stages of the game, he probably showed the best bits of play since we started to see a bit of rotation in his position. Great at holding up the ball, using the ball sensibly, he showed himself to be the kind of player you want in that scenario.

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