Rangers dropped yet more points at home in a 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock on Wednesday night. The 95th-minute equaliser came after a very strange 5 minutes, which was almost a new way to make a mess of a game. Somehow, that spell was more interesting than the preceding 90.

Rangers lined up with Holt, McCrorie and Foderingham replacing Pena, Cardoso and Alnwick from Sunday. Kilmarnock played a similar shape, but were intent from the first minute on sitting in and making it difficult.

Just a minute into the game, Declan John made a good run on the left, and played Windass through. The Englishman’s cross was blocked, but the approach early on was clear. Four minutes later, some good link up by John and Dorrans on the left led to the Welshman firing a shot over the bar.

The first 10 minutes had a clear pattern. Rangers were being allowed to have easy possession, and despite getting in to good crossing positions more than once, they were struggling with the final ball. That was summed up by a chance created on the 11th minute. Some excellent play by Dorrans saw Windass get a run at the fullback. His cut back was just behind Morelos and Candeias, and the chance came to nothing.

The fan mood at Ibrox was strange. The crowd was somewhat muted at the start of the game in a way I can’t recall ever hearing before. There were many who put far more energy into berating the team than celebrating any good play. This was evident early on, with one moment, in particular, involving Alves not clearing a ball quickly and being closed down producing plenty of angry reactions. The fact absolutely nothing came of the situation showed that any nerves the players were feeling were far more prevalent in the stands.

On the 20th minute, a great pass from Alves found Candeias, who won a free kick through some determined play on the edge of the box. Declan John was tasked with taking the set piece, but his shot went well over the bar.

Graham Dorrans had been hit by a heavy challenge minutes before this, and was clearly struggling. He was replaced by Herrera on the 21st minute, representing a change of shape to more of a 4-4-2.

It’s been interesting to note the way we’ve defended set pieces this season. Against St Johnstone, we left 3 players up and took a bit of a chance in terms of space in the box. Against Motherwell, we left 2 players up, and they gave us some issues. Last night, we were leaving only 1 player in an advanced area. On 23 minutes, that almost paid dividends. Windass broke from the edge of his own box, and fed Declan John on the counter. Again, though, the shot was high and wide.

Kilmarnock managed their first real chance after a poor Alves pass couldn’t be controlled by Tavernier. Luckily, the shot from the Kilmarnock forward was more akin to a passback.

After 30 minutes, Rangers started to show some sustained pressure. There were a number of crosses, half chances and blocked passes. On the 35th minute, some lovely play involving Holt and Morelos resulted in a great pass through to Windass. When it seemed easier to score, his shot was straight at the keeper.

Rangers finally made the breakthrough on 43 minutes. Some good play on the right saw Tavernier play a low cross. It was a bit behind the strikers, but Morelos done well with his back to goal and laid the ball into the path of Holt. His first-time shot was lashed in off the underside of the bar. Despite not playing well, Rangers clearly deserved to be in the lead.

The fears surrounding a slow start to the second half were almost dispelled a mere 2 minutes after the restart. Declan John done well on the left, cutting inside and playing a great ball into the 6 yard box. Herrera met it on the volley, and really should have scored, but the shot hit the keeper and was cleared.

Some more pressure a few minutes later could have resulted in better chances, but crosses evaded the targets. On the 59th minute, Bruno Alves missed a great chance from a corner which you’d expect him to hit target with at least.

Rangers were creating half chances and getting some long shots in, but lacked that bit of confidence and quality. As such, the team became more nervous, and a Boyd chance on 68 minutes was well saved by Foderingham.

Given the lack of confidence in the team, the physical and mental exertions of the semi-final a few days before, and the feeling in the stands, it was no surprise Rangers fell into the trap so many sides do at 1-0 up. In the last 20 minutes, the defending became deeper and the decisions more erratic as legs and minds started to struggle. Kilmarnock took heart from this, and created 2 great chances. One brought an excellent save from Foderingham, and the other was a header they should have done better with.

It looked like Rangers were going to weather the storm, and they managed to win a penalty in the last minute. Herrera caught a short pass from a goal kick on the edge of the box, and was brought down inside the area. What followed was a crazy 5 minutes between the award of the penalty, and Candeias being allowed to hit it.

Firstly, the Kilmarnock team claimed that the assistant was disputing the decision. That held things up as the referee clarified this with him. Then, Broadfoot and Jack got involved in a spat which saw the Rangers player square up to the ex-Ger, and Broadfoot hitting the deck. It took some time to break that up, and both players were booked. Jack walked away from the situation, and it looked like we’d finally get the penalty taken, but the fourth official called over the referee, and then Jack was red carded. From that, we took another minute or so to clear everything up, and finally Candeias was able to take the penalty.

It’s often said that a long wait to take a penalty will see a player talk himself into doing something stupid. I’ve never seen a longer wait for a penalty to be hit. With the way everything has been going recently, you almost knew that Candeias wouldn’t score. His effort was poor, and saved to the keeper’s right. Kilmarnock then broke up the park, and in all the confusion, Rangers never got themselves set and a cross from the right was turned in by Chris Burke.

There was still time for another moment of madness as Candeias closed down a backpass, the keeper picked it up, and the referee awarded the indirect free kick. It was a poor decision, but represented a decent chance for Rangers. Alves hit the ball from the layoff, but it was deflected wide. Somehow, the referee decided that the five minutes of waiting around for the penalty to be hit were being counted as game time, and he blew the final whistle to a chorus of stunned boos.

Despite not playing well, this was a game Rangers should still have won. The players looked dejected going off the park, with Candeias in particular absolutely gutted. Given everything, a scrappy win would have been accepted and we’d have just hoped to kick on. As it was, the result just highlighted that mixture of poor luck and lacking quality that we have at the moment, never mind the confidence that’s clearly required.

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Foderingham, Tavernier, Alves, McCrorie, John, Jack, Dorrans (Herrera 22’), Holt, Windass (Nemane 64’), Morelos (Barjonas 77’), Candeias.

Subs not used: Kelly, Wilson, Dalcio, Hodson.

Goals: Holt 44’

Yellows: Tavernier 72’

Red: Jack 90’


Macdonald, O’Donnell, Greer, Broadfoot, Power, McKenzie, Boyd (Erwin 79’), Jones, Taylor, Findlay, Frizzell (Burke 65’)

Subs not used: Bell, Thomas, S.Boyd, Waters, Brophy.

Goals: Burke 90+’

Yellows: Power 55’ Findlay 58’ Broadfoot 90’