High winds were forecast throughout the country at the weekend, so there could have been some unpredictability about what was to come at Dingwall as Rangers took on Ross County in the early Saturday kick off. That said, the way the game turned out would not have been predicted by anyone tuning in to watch. Rangers were able to put out a more attacking line up, with more options available to choose from, and the early stages of the game saw us go ahead thanks to a great set up from our returning star, and simple finish from our new exciting talent. At this point, any worries fans would have had over the game would have disappeared, but this was prior to the unexpected when a cross from the left was dropped by our goalkeeper, allowing the County forward to tap in from close range to equalise for Malky MacKay’s side. Things would get worse for us shortly after, when a defensive mistake allowed Ross County in again, a finish passed our keeper putting the home side in front, and it all could have been so easily avoided. We did not have enough attacking bite for the rest of the half and went into the break trailing, with frustration both understandable and justified.
Our response at the start of the second half was good. We equalised early on, our captain in a very advanced position able to slot in from close range after a shot was blocked into his path. What was good from the team was we kept pushing forward after that, and we look so much better playing forward with the ball and having more attacking intent. This paid off when we would regain the lead courtesy of our centre back forcing the ball over the line following a corner. Given what happened earlier in the game, though, it was really important that we found that 4th goal that would kill the game. We didn’t have the same forward drive though and that resulted in the manager making changes to try and help us close off the game, a decision the fans did not agree with, and sadly with good reason. We allowed Ross County to get more chances and, right in the dying moments of the game, a corner was not properly dealt with and County found a last gasp equaliser. A 3-3 draw is a really poor result for us against a side whose main target this season is survival. As much as these results can happen over a season, the manner in which we played was not good enough, and a lot of that is on the attitude toward the game in that moment. We have proven then when we look to dominate a game we are far more comfortable, and when we sit off, it can cause problems.
Here is how you rated our players from a disappointing result in the Highlands.
Allan McGregor – 1.7 (4)
A game that McGregor will want to forget. To concede three times in one game is bad enough, but when you’re at fault for definitely one, possibly two or maybe even all three of the goals, it will have hurt. The first goal is the worst from McGregor, a rudimentary cross from the left was initially caught before it spilled from his hands and White was able to capitalise. You hardly ever see him make as big a clanger as that. The defence is more of an issue regarding the second, although I’ve seen some suggest McGregor could do better with the save. I wouldn’t be looking to him for that though. The final goal, the set up of which was ridiculous, saw him try all he could to block the shot, but the manner of the attempt was again worrying and it was a simple finish for County to equalise. A very odd day, but people suggesting he is done have been proven wrong before, and he has more than enough credit in the bank to earn our support going forward.
James Tavernier – 5.6 (6)
He grabbed our equaliser thanks to some good forward intention at the start of the second half. He was able to take advantage of the ball dropping toward him following a shot saved by the County goalkeeper to finish. In many ways his game is positive, scoring whilst not being at the centre of any defensive issues, but I’m sure this will be another game where people will wonder why he did not force the issue with his players to keep attacking and get the crucial 4th goal. I’m sure he would want more from the whole team, as would all the players, but we just didn’t do enough as a collective.
Connor Goldson – 5.5 (6)
The badge kiss when celebrating his goal was rather interesting, wasn’t it? It was clear how important that goal was to the team, and he did really well to make sure he did all he could to get that ball over the line from the corner. Of late he has looked the better centre back, I can’t say there has been a whole lot he has done wrong, but there was a lack of being quick enough to react to situations here that cost us.
Calvin Bassey – 3.4 (4)
Definitely the worst he has played as a centre back during this run of games he has had being the partner to Goldson. You would be right, I think, to point the finger at him for the goal Ross County scored to take the lead. I’m still not sure what it is that he is trying to do, he kicks the air and has lost control of himself, allowing Charles-Cook to race through with the ball and finish. He looked far more inhibited in that role here, and questions will be asked over whether it is right for him to play this role again on Wednesday.
Borna Barisic – 4.6 (5)
Some of the set pieces he delivered were good, they offered a lot of threat and I think it is important to give Borna the chance to take these more, rather than constantly asking Tavernier to take the set pieces. He didn’t show a huge amount of defensive prowess however, although that was an entire team issue, not just his.
Glen Kamara – 4.2 (5)
Since our return to action, Kamara has not impressed. I believed it was down to him playing higher up than what he normally does, or should, but he was again poor here in a role that he has been much better in for us. He needlessly concedes the corner which results in their late equaliser, an example of how he just is not playing well. No excuses now, he needs to step up.
Scott Arfield – 5.7 (6)
I thought he was doing well in terms of his attacking output, bar the finishing itself which could have been more clinical. But he would get into the area and test the goalkeeper, and doing that from a deeper position gives us that extra option which I think works. It is important that we use him in the right way, he has shown plenty of times before that he can be a match winner.
Joe Aribo – 7.0 (7) – Man of the Match
There were fears that Joe Aribo would be away from us for a lot longer during the African Cup of Nations, but Nigeria’s surprise early exit meant that he was back playing for us again and immediately showing just how important he is for us. He sets up the opener with an excellent pass following a good run forward, and the dynamism he brings to that role is vital. With one player, our midfield looks so much the better for it.
Amad Diallo – 6.2 (7)
This kid will be a superstar of the game in years to come, and it is fantastic that we get to have a shot of him, even for just the 6 months that he has been loaned to Rangers from Manchester United. It only took him 5 minutes to open his scoring account for us, getting on the end of the pass from Aribo to side foot the ball home. Any time we got forward, we wanted to give Diallo the ball, his threat from wide and ability to cut inside was immediately obvious, and something we will want to use a lot for the rest of the season. Hopefully, his exit from the game was purely a precautionary one, especially as he has not played a lot of football this season prior to him arriving at Ibrox.
Ryan Kent – 4.2 (5)
Returning to action following his ridiculous suspension, he could have done more to cause an attacking threat. He definitely looked to be playing second fiddle to Amad, which seems odd when you think of the quality Kent has and how he absolutely wants to be the key guy. He didn’t stand out in any way here, and fans rightly will want him to offer far more in the coming weeks. Hopefully it simply requires a return to sharpness that will happen sooner rather than later. Next game would be ideal for instance.
Cedric Itten – 2.6 (4)
Fans seem to have properly turned on Itten now, and I can understand why, as this was another game where it felt like he was in the way rather than being a help. He isn’t a hopeless player, let’s be clear on that, but he should be doing a lot more in the box and making himself a lot harder to manage for defenders, otherwise he is not going to last at this club. Without question, he fails to take his chance here yet again.
Kemar Roofe – 4.6 (5)
Didn’t offer a great deal when he comes on, snatches at an effort in the box, but even so the feeling is that he is the much preferred option to start up front in the Old Firm, which I agree with completely. In those kind of games, he is the sort of player who can light things up.
Fashion Sakala – 4.3 (5)
Not sure you can make a proper judgement again given the lack of time he has to make an impact, but for what he offers in attack I would be very happy to see him start for us on Wednesday.
John Lundstram – 2.8 (4)
The unnecessary cross field ball in the dying stages of the game, which ended up in us losing possession leading to the vital corner, is just an example of why it frustrates fans to see a player who is much more an enforcer playing when his limitations do not help the team to play at their best in the way we want to play. There is no consistency for him right now, and it almost feels like we are worried every time he comes on the field.