Easter Road, Edinburgh. Rangers first run of four matches won in a row this season. A 2-1 victory at the hands of Hibernian on Tuesday evening. They didn’t turn on one, or several, horrible refereeing calls this time, there wasn’t a bad ten minutes or even starting line-up. No, this victory was carved out of grit and sheer determination.
However, it was a game that the Rangers were never in control of, despite the final outcome. Caretaker manager Murty said post-game that he thought “It was an evening to be endured rather than enjoyed.”
The first half can best be described in monopoly terms, with the Rangers playing their get-out-of-jail card in the opening 40 minutes. Despite being a goal down, we had gifted Hibs several clear chances to double their advantage and had Wes to thank for restricting it to just one.
The closing five minutes of the half were ones I don’t even think the most positive of bears (big strider) saw coming, but, they were every bit as magnificent as they were surprising. Not only did they level the game with another Josh Windass strike but they took the lead from Morelos firing in from a right angle, which sent the away support into bedlam.
I’m not sure anyone knew quite what to expect from the second half. Rangers would surely play as poor as the opening 40 minutes and Hibs’ energy would surely fade due to recovering mentally from stuffing the two goals.
It was Hibernian who looked the most dangerous, striking the post not once, but twice and flashing several other chances across Fodringham’s goal. And this was merely in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
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Murty was faced with a constant wave of Hibs attacks. David Bates was opted to bring on in the extra centre half, switching to a back five and pushing the fullbacks out to defend in wider areas. Hibs also had a half-decent penalty shout waved off after Bates controlled a cross with the top of his arm. It was fast becoming a backs-to-the-wall job.
The final ten minutes of the contest were going to be both long and painful to watch. Rangers struggled to string any passes or passage of play together with the ball coming straight down the throats of the, now, back five.
Hibs were throwing everything they had at the Rangers, even trying the age-old tactical move of throwing your centre half up top.
I suspect, like every other Rangers fan, you might lack a few fingernails today but make no mistake, this was a HUGE win. A statement victory. We had to dig deep and defend on a night when we were well below our best. Criticism was hurled at the squad earlier in the season but not now, not after last night and Pittodrie. That was Rangers football. Win at all costs and it was glorious.
All this without a host of first team player, a captain, and a full-time manager. Not bad at all lads.