Our fantastic domestic run of form continued on Sunday when Rangers once again racked up the goals in a handsome Highland win over Ross County. A team who typically make it hard for you to play the way you want to, and more than capable of capitalising on that (the League Cup being a rather nice example of that…). But after what was tough opening half hour in which the side seemed to try and adapt to a tricky surface and the home side had the first real chance, we pulled a switch and got ourselves going. From that point, County had no answer to what we had. It was easy enough from there on in, and it was a 2nd gear performance after a 1st gear opening phase. But look at the difference between how we did vs the other lot. They had no answer to what County were doing and the Dingwall side took advantage. But what we did in comparison was night and day. The feel good factor is absolutely in full flow, and long may that continue.
Our opening goal was from a wonderful midfield pass and a cut back which was slid in. That killed in momentum that Ross County may have had at that point, and in the second half a goal that looked very similar added the second, before on own goal well worked from our most important player so far this season. To add some extra gloss we added a fourth right before the end, courtesy of our experienced striker on what was a landmark appearance for him.
Here is how you rated our players after our delightful day in Dingwall.
Allan McGregor – 6.9 (7)
It’s easy to talk about a Rangers goalkeeper coasting a game that we dominate from the scoreline, and it has happened in the past where our number 1 has had nothing to do in the whole game. But when they need to be ready to make that save at the important moment, few have been better at that than Allan McGregor. Ross County had done well up to the half hour mark and they were rewarded with the first big chance of the game with a shot on the edge of the penalty area. McGregor’s strong palm forced it behind, and from that point we shifted to a better performance. The standout moment for his day, and an important one for the game.
James Tavernier – 8.6 (9) – Man of the Match
The numbers that you talk about with this guy are insanely good. There cannot be many right backs in football who are as important for their team as what our skipper is for us. His run down that right hand side is found from the midfield and he cuts the ball across for an assist of our first goal of the day. He follows that up in the second half with a goal, one of the easier ones he will score this season, but to be in that position to take that deflection (again, he’s a right back) just shows the stamina he has to do that all day. Indeed, he was at it again not long after with another cut across which was converted into the net by the Ross County defender (who they awarded their Man of the Match to which was rather amusing). This season feels more likely to be one that will be fondly remembered by us, and if so, the example set by James Tavernier is going to be a big part of that.
Connor Goldson – 7.1 (7)
As well the contributions of this man as well of course. Our number one centre back who did not do a lot in the game, not that he needed to, but whether he was required to perform some defensive work, or bark orders, or stand up for his teammates, he was there. He does not hide, he is not that kind of person. He is a natural leader, and has really developed into that over time.
Leon Balogun – 6.9 (7)
There was a moment in the second half where, for the first time in the game really, we played a sloppy pass across the back line. From the left hand side the ball was cheaply given away and Ross County could have sprung a counter attack. But immediately Leon Balogun stepped in to retrieve the ball. This was, in reality, a fairly straightforward piece of defending, but it’s more the fact that we look like such a machine at the back that is well oiled and ready to deal with any issues like that which I find hugely encouraging. And compare that to some of the comedy defending from that lot. That’s why it is exciting.
Calvin Bassey – 6.9 (7)
What I like about young Calvin is his attitude. He looks like he is constantly wanting to learn from those around him. The kind of experiences he is gaining from these games and the players around him are going to stand him in great stead going forward. And speaking of going forward, he really likes to follow the Tav model of putting in a right good shift up and down the flank. Good at defending, very good on the ball, and the willingness to do what he can. I tell you, he will be a really great player for us in time.
Joe Aribo – 6.3 (7)
What I am pleased to see is the retention of that strength on the ball that we were seeing at the beginning of this season. When he dribbles on the ball with two or three defenders around him, he is never panicked, but simply plays his way out of trouble by overpowering those around him. He looked to create chances but it just wasn’t coming off for him in that respect.
Steven Davis – 8.1 (9)
I thought this was an outstanding midfield display from Davis, one of the best from him this season. His passing was superb, and the ball he plays to Tavernier in the set up for our first goal is fantastic, and he should get the credit for that goal in terms of the biggest moment of quality. He was so assured on the ball, flicks and tricks to boot, and the passes he was playing were really smart and sensible in equal measure. He was working well defensively too, often found in the box retrieving the ball and bringing it out of defence to set the team going. When you are playing a side who will be very comfortable in the air, there is no point trying to match that. Instead you need guys who are good on the ball, and Steven Davis is one of the best when he is really on top form.
Glen Kamara – 6.9 (7)
Maybe the problem that people previously had with Glen Kamara, and I will include myself in this, is in a lot of games that we play the role and finer parts of Kamara are not required when you have the majority of the ball. “This is the kind of game that you could maybe try a Ianis Hagi in a deeper role” is often a thought that would come to mind in the past. But let’s be fair, we are winning right now, and there is no reason right now to say that we should not be playing him in a game like this when what he will do is just simply manage the area of the field he is in, and contribute to good attacking play and assured defensive play.
Kemar Roofe – 7.3 (7)
He is the one who gets on the end of the ball from Tavernier to open the scoring, another goal for him this season and you would fully expect him to add to his tally in games like this. He certainly tried to tot up the numbers too, a chance not long after which went over looked promising. In the second half he again has a couple of chances to add to the score, including what would have been a replica of the first goal, but luckily it was converted on the rebound.
Alfredo Morelos – 6.3 (7)
In the same way that we scored our winning goal on Thursday, the movement of Morelos plays an important role in our first goal here. His movement drags defenders away allowing the space for Tavernier to play the ball he does into the box. The continued criticisms of his lack of scoring will no doubt be a reason for this low rating, but I think he played better than this suggests. He worked hard in the game and deserved a goal that so nearly came when Tav played the ball across and had the County defender not got in the way of it to put it in, it would have been a tap in for Alfredo. I want him to keep doing what he is doing though, it may lessen his overall performance, but it enhances the team, and that is what matters.
Ryan Kent – 7.0 (7)
We have come a fair way since it was his solitary goal that got us the win the last time we played in Dingwall. Although he was not on the scoresheet here, he still did a lot of really good running down the left hand side. And he was rewarded for that with the set up of the second, putting the ball in which was bundled home. A good days work from him.
Scott Arfield – 5.9 (6)
Is Arf the best midfielder in the country right now? There are a lot of candidates for that accolade that are currently at Ibrox, but maybe in terms of overall contribution he is the most important? Equally good when attacking and defending, and one of the most consistent over the season so far. Not needed to do a great amount in this game at least, but this will count for him as a rest I am sure.
Bongani Zungu – 5.6 (5)
One of a flurry of changes that were made at the same time, I am glad he continues to feature in games though. We talked earlier about the great performance of Steven Davis, I think Ben 10 is absolutely going to take that role when the Northern Irish star hangs up his boots. And if Zungu can spend the season learning from Davis and playing like he can, then that’s a massive plus for us.
Jermain Defoe – 6.7 (7)
800 professional football appearances. That’s an amazing record and must be quite an exclusive club for the very best. He is a legend of the game in England and could yet be a Rangers legend should he help contribute to a successful season. It was no surprise that he celebrated this achievement with a goal of course. Well set up and similar to the goals we scored previously, he found a way (as he so often does) to knock the ball over the line to make it 4 for us. He will keep scoring goals for the rest of the season when he features, it’s so great to have him as the option that he is in this squad.
Cedric Itten – 6.2 (6)
Let’s give this lad a lot of credit for the 4th goal. Excellent work in the wide area to set up the chance, so atypical of a target man striker which, I now believe, is wide of the mark in terms of how you would describe him. I would be more tempted to label him as an attacker who is capable of playing in a number of areas of the field. Perhaps he will be more accepted by the wider support when he nails down a position, which I am sure will eventually be as a main striker.
Ianis Hagi – 5.8 (5)
I would have been delighted if Hagi scored that free kick which the keeper tipped over the bar late on. That would have put the smile on his face which I think is missing at the moment due to the pressure of him not featuring. But he has to earn that place when he comes in, and lately there has not been a stand out moment that tells you “he has to play more”. Those in Romania are beginning to worry about his lack of game time, but the opportunity will soon present itself for him to play from the start and show what he can do. If it is on Thursday, I could think of no better time, then he has to take it.