The Rangers win over Ross County was a far tighter result than the game suggested it should have been. The team missed good chances in the first half to be a few goals ahead, and didn’t hit the same level in the second half. Let’s have a look at the talking points from the game.
FIRST HALF v SECOND HALF
In the first half, Rangers looked very strong. They completely dominated the game, created loads of chances, and should have been out of sight. However, in the second half, the performance wasn’t particularly great. All too often this season the team has struggled to do well in the second half of matches. It’s been less evident under Murty, but some games have went that way. A stronger bench meant that the win was achieved, but this should have been much more convincing.
Morelos missed a great chance in the first half which would have killed the game. Despite scoring against Aberdeen, he was also guilty of missing great chances as well. It’s been something that’s happened in numerous games this season. However, there’s a danger that Rangers fans who are frustrated by this are falling into a narrative that’s unfair. Morelos still worked very hard as he always does, and was a big part of the win given the first half performance. He does miss good chances, but the fact he’s top scorer says enough about his finishing ability. All strikers miss in games, and being more clinical is the aim, but given his age and excellent start, it’s unfair to criticise him too much for this. There’s plenty to be positive about with regards the young striker.
Sadly for a referee, it only takes a couple of decisions to become a focus of the match. McLean didn’t do badly at all overall, but the two penalty claims did cloud things. It was hard to see how either could really be given, as there was no intent from Bates or Martin to handle the ball from such a short distance away. However, it seems clear that the penalty was given because McLean felt under pressure from not awarding the first, which is poor refereeing.
It may be fair, though, to consider the vague nature of the rule. Intent is a difficult thing to quantify at the best of times. It may be that the rules need to be more clear-cut to help referees in this sort of scenario. After the negative reaction to VAR during the week, it’s clear that isn’t quite ready to fill the gap just yet.
WORKRATE ON THE WINGS
Ross County are a side who create most of their chances from crosses. In this respect, Naismith at right back is their most dangerous player. This season, Rangers have had a bit of an imbalance in the team both going forward and defensively. Daniel Candeias works hard and backs up Tavernier, but when Windass was playing on the left, his attacking attitude meant he often struggled to get into good defensive areas. In this match, Murphy showed that he’s every bit as capable of defending as he is attacking. On numerous occasions he cut off passes to Naismith or made that option unplayable. He was smart on the ball, but excellent off it, and it was very encouraging to see a better balance.
Rangers travel to Fraserburgh on Wednesday before the Hibs game at Ibrox on Saturday. It’s likely that there will be some rotation of the team for the cup match to allow for freshness for the league game.
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