Rangers are out of the League Cup after a 3-2 defeat by St. Mirren brought the Gers’ 27-game unbeaten run to an end – and halted any ambitions the Light Blues held of a Treble-winning campaign.
Gerrard made four changes to the side that beat Dundee United with Calvin Bassey, Bongani Zungu, Scott Arfield and Cedric Itten taking the places of Borna Barisic, Steven Davis, Glen Kamara and the suspended Alfredo Morelos; Barisic, Davis and Kamara all taking places on the bench [RangersTV].
St. Mirren went into the game with a nine-game unbeaten run and manager Jim Goodwin had been hopeful of springing a shock on the Light Blues in the build-up to the game, telling Not The Old Firm there was an “opportunity” for his side to end the Gers’ own outstanding unbeaten run.
There was a last minute change of referee after Andrew Dallas was injured in the warm-up with fourth official David Dickinson stepping in to take charge of the quarter-final clash.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) December 16, 2020
It only took seven minutes for the Light Blues to open the scoring, Connor Goldson scoring his seventh of the season in fantastic fashion – picking up the ball near halfway before driving forward and skipping past a St. Mirren challenge then firing beyond Alnwick.
With the Gers sporting a lovely retro kit, it was looking like being a classic Rangers performance as the Light Blues snapped into every challenge and were first to every ball in the opening stages of the game.
As the hosts slowly started to find their feet, there was a controversial decision by stand-in referee Dickinson as he opted to only flash a yellow card at Ethan Erahon after 23 minutes after what looked like a stamp on Bongani Zungu.
There was plenty of possession for the Light Blues as they pushed forward searching for a second goal but there were few clear-cut opportunities to make former Rangers keeper Jak Alnwick work.
Goldson was almost central to making it 2-0, this time charging in from the left wing before playing a teasing ball across goal but there were no takers as the home side breathed a massive sigh of relief.
Moments later, Goldson was at it again, this time seeing an effort cleared off the line by Jamie McGrath as the Gers continued to push for a second.
Despite being second-best to pretty much everything, the lack of a second goal from Rangers continued to give the hosts hope of getting something on the counter before the break.
With five minutes until the interval, St. Mirren were handed the chance to draw level when Bassey’s clumsy challenge on Dylan Connelly handed the Buddies a penalty kick, with McGrath stepping up to send Allan McGregor the wrong way.
The goal came at a really good time for the home side and Jim Goodwin will definitely have been the happier of the two managers as the sides made their way in from the rain at half time.
With no changes at the break, Gerrard will have been hoping for more from his front three as the Light Blues looked to secure their place in the last four – and it was a woeful start from the visitors.
Bassey was again poor as Connolly was allowed to first crash a cross off the bar before providing the cross which saw St. Mirren go 2-1 up.
A slack pass from Balogun handed possession to the Saints and they broke quickly down the left, before McGrath picked the ball up and fired home from close range.
The goal sparked a double change from Gerrard as Steven Davis and Borna Barisic were introduced just a few minutes later, Bassey and Arfield going off.
Rangers had nobody but themselves to blame for being behind, lacking any cohesion going forward and the goal seemed to spark some life into the Gers.
The Gers thought they’d drawn level with 62 minutes when Tavernier popped up at centre-forward to prod home Kemar Roofe’s cross but the Gers striker couldn’t keep the ball in before getting his pass away.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Gerrard again turned to his sub, bringing Jermain Defoe and Glen Kamara to replace Itten and Zungu as the Gers boss saw his hopes of lifting the League Cup slip away.
There was concern for Rangers when Leon Balogun was left sprawled out after being clattered by Jon Obika, leaving the Nigerian looking dazed and forced off for Ianis Hagi.
The second half was nowhere near good enough from the Gers but the referee again had a big say in the outcome when he denied the Gers a penalty before the Gers grabbed a late equaliser.
Ryan Kent was brought down inside the box but the ref only awarded a free-kick and Tavernier’s effort crashed off the frame of the goal before veteran Steven Davis volleyed home to spark dramatic scenes.
The lead lasted only a matter of minutes though, McCarthy firing the ball into the net after a stunning McGregor save looked to have kept the scoreline level.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey, Arfield, Zungu, Aribo, Roofe, Kent, Itten
Subs: McLaughlin, Helander, Hagi, Defoe, Davis, Patterson, Kamara, Barker, Barisic
St. Mirren: Alnwick, Tait, Shaughnessy, McCarthy, Fraser, Mason, Doyle-Hayes, Erhahon, McGrath, Connolly, Obika
Subs: Lyness, Flynn, McAllister, Durmus, MacPherson, Foley, Dennis, Erwin, Jamieson
Here’s how Rangers fans reacted before the match to Steven Gerrard’s starting XI for the League Cup quarter-final clash