Match Ratings – St Mirren 1-2 Rangers

folder_openMatch Ratings, Rangers FC

An away trip to St Mirren still brings back annoying memories of our League Cup exit from last season, mainly because people like to keep bringing it up every time we play them. I’m more a fan of the last time we faced them, the game that set up our confirmation as league champions. All the same, this was going to be a tough game against a well coached team who were always going to be well up for the challenge. And they made the sort of start that just sucks the life out of you as a fan. Not dealing with the ball in the midfield on a few occasions before the young lad hit a screamer into the top corner. A desperately annoying opening few minutes, which was followed by a really tepid, timid and annoyingly slow performance for the next 20 or so minutes. We have seen some bad first half performances when it has been an early game before, but this was up there with the worst. Our use of the ball terrible, second to every ball, and lack of invention or creativity. The reality is that this was exactly how St Mirren wanted the game to go for the opening 30, and they were achieving that, but as a fan you have faith that the players will come through that spell, as it will not last for a full game, and be able to put their own influence on the match. We began to see signs of that around half an hour into the match, and we then built on it. Some opportunities from set pieces before the referee awarded a penalty after our player was tripped just inside the area (oh how it really is funny that there are some who still think it wasn’t). The spot kick was dispatched, and we had the energy back, and what soon followed was a goal to give us the lead, but also the century for our main forward, a fantastic moment for him and for the fans. The way that we played for that spell in the latter half of the opening period was also fantastic, but as we have seen a lot of late, we struggle to begin second halves with any tempo or intensity, unless of course we have had a poor end to the first half (can’t have everything sadly). So the optimism of being up at the break did come with a sense of caution too.

We didn’t come firing out the blocks, but some moment where we created well crafted chances that were unlucky not to find the net show that it was not a bad opening to the second 45, along with giving St Mirren very little to work with. But as the game went on into the final stages, and that third goal to relax us continued to elude us, the fear began to grow. Subs were made to try and offer a different dimension, but no such joy on the scoring front. And 7 minutes of added time due to a lengthy injury stoppage for a St Mirren player did not help the nerves one bit. But, in the end dealt with any pressure whilst ourselves having a couple of late chances that could have found the net on another day. Looking back on the game, it was more comfortable than what it perhaps felt to some at the time, due to the nature of our season up to now. But it is another win, and the gap at the top of the table has increased, you cannot ask for more from a weekend of football.

Here is how you rated our players from our league win in Paisley.

Jon McLaughlin – 6.5 (6)

It’s easy to ask questions like “could the keeper have done more” or “was he unsighted due to the sun” but it would be unfair to find excuses as the strike from young Ronan is one of those you can only say fair play to. There are far bigger problems in the midfield in the build up to the goal which we will get to, but the striker itself is just a sweet hit which, as it did not result in us dropping points, we can admit to. Outwith this, he deals with the attacking pressure in the opening stages, and is calm enough to control the tempo when collecting the ball.

James Tavernier – 7.2 (7)

He could have had about four assists to his name from this game, as well as a goal, but the one assist that he did get was sweet as. Some nice interplay down the right saw him see the opportunity to whip a ball across the face of goal, right in the corridor of uncertainty, and it was the easiest of finishes for Morelos who did the work to get into that area. People talk about wanting him to step up more when the chips are down, well he did it here. His crossing was very consistent, and he was eager to get on the ball and get forward. He had a chance in the second half that shows he still wants to do those runs inside to get on the end of ball from Borna, it was unlucky not to have done more and would have been an excellent goal if it had.

Connor Goldson – 6.8 (7)

The “passing” from Goldson in that opening phase was really awful. And it wasn’t like he was only trying diagonals that weren’t coming off, even short easy passes were either put out of play or forcing guys like Tav to quickly change their run otherwise it would be intercepted. A really strange performance in that respect, but Goldson was far more assured at the back, having very little issue handling any of the St Mirren forwards once he had settled down, and was unlucky with two headed chances from corners that were near identical in how they looked, but just not quite enough of a connection to test the St Mirren keeper.

Leon Balogun – 6.8 (7)

He was also assured defensively from that point, and is a real example of someone who will fight the good fight and step up time and again. One of the most consistent players really from the point that Filip Helander was injured, and really helping us have that resolute back line that we all think of with a Steven Gerrard team. He really doesn’t feel like a back up, for from it, and he deserves a lot of praise.

Borna Barisic – 6.3 (6)

Borna was not his dynamic best, and certainly did not have the set piece magic he has shown for us before, particularly in Paisley, so it doesn’t surprise me he is less thought of from this game than the rest of the defenders. Even toward the end, a free kick in near enough the exact same spot from that game in 2019, but it was blocked this time. He isn’t playing poorly, but he is capable of being a lot better.

Joe Aribo – 6.0 (6)

The contrast from how he did against Brondby to this game is something that will likely hold him back from being talked about for a move to a bigger league. The midfield as a whole were very poor in the first half, but Aribo seemed to want about 5 minutes in the box to do what he wanted to do. The lack of any urgency going forward, and the weakness of his challenges, it was just so disappointing when you think he might have turned a corner with those issues prior. Once the whole team had settled down, he seemed to feel more assured afterward, but this was still way below what he is capable of.

Steven Davis – 6.0 (6)

It just has the feel of him being a player that is getting a bit in the way of things right now, and that’s not nice at all to say. He doesn’t cover himself in glory at all for the opener, he almost leaves it to for Lundstram to deal with. That’s not what Davis normally does though, but it was an example of a weak performance when he is normally far better in the middle. Safe passes, safe use of the ball, nothing spectacular and very ordinary. We don’t need to guys on the field doing the same job, one needs to do a different job, which neither is particularly strong at compared to other options. But of the two, he is not ahead in the order for the main midfield anchor.

John Lundstram – 6.3 (7)

Where as John certainly is, and even though he did not have as good a game as his previous run of performances, he still managed to come into a game as time went on. Once it became a simple ask, he did the job of winning the ball back, giving it to the defence, and then resetting. Repeat the process, it becomes a simple task, or at least he makes it look that way. All the same, he was very weak for their goal, and we have every right to expect more from him in challenging the young lad.

Ianis Hagi – 7.5 (8) – Man of the Match

He’s getting to the “first name on the team sheet stage” and he is very exciting to watch when he is at it. Our attacking momentum was really set up by Ianis, looking for as many different ways to break past the St Mirren back line. He tried to shoot, he tried to find the pass, he was trying. And eventually it paid off with the award of the penalty, the work he does to create that should not go unnoticed. It’s how he plays that demands more from others, that lifts his teammates, which makes him an invaluable asset for this team right now. We struggle to get a result from this game without him.

Alfredo Morelos – 6.8 (7)

He has certainly scored more spectacular goals than this one, but only a handful will have given us fans more joy than this, his 100th Rangers goal. His movement is so important here, anticipating where the ball is going to be, timing the run into the box so well and making it a really easy finish for him. There were a lot of fans who felt his lack of finishing during this period meant he should have been benched, but he just proves that he is always ready to get himself a goal, and as soon as he scored it, you could immediately see the lift it gave him with how he played. What he must do now is keep that self belief for the next few games. He has reached the milestone, that pressure is off, so now let’s see more top level performances again.

Kemar Roofe – 6.8 (7)

I still really hate that run up, even though it is clearly something that works for Roofe when hitting a penalty. Clearly he is now the designated taker, and that should remain so whilst he is converting. He was also doing a lot of good work in and around the area, creating the odd chance, moving into spaces to stretch the defence, and holding the ball up well to bring others into play. He does lack raw speed, but he does make it for it with many other qualities.

Fashion Sakala – 4.7 (5)

This is your man for raw speed, although he has yet to really capitalise on it in a game yet. His best chance comes from a cross which he seems to stumble to get to, as a result of tripping over a downed St Mirren defender, which puts him off his run sadly. I think the fans still believe he will show his true worth in time.

Scott Arfield – 4.5 (5)

Not a great deal to do but be an extra midfield body to help shore up the game toward the end as our attacking play had dropped a fair bit by the time he came on.

Nathan Patterson – 4.3 (5)

Also on late to help secure the win, coming on for Roofe which tells you all you need to know about the intentions of the gaffer by that stage.

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