Rangers' in late title drama as fans protest Celtic friendly
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rangers' in late title drama as fans protest Celtic friendly

Rangers left it very late to keep their title hopes alive as Connor Goldson’s 86th-minute winner salvaged three points after a disappointing display in Dundee.

The Light Blues made four changes from the midweek Europa League clash with Red Star as Fil Helander, James Sands, Aaron Ramsey and Scott Arfield came into the side at the expense of Leon Balogun, Ryan Jack, Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara.

Just as the game got underway, a barrage of toilet rolls and tennis balls from the Rangers end – in protest at the club’s involvement in the controversial Sydney Cup – caused the game the be halted as the pitch was cleared.

After a three-minute delay, things finally got underway and it was Dundee who took the early initiative, Allan McGregor getting caught underneath a cross and Christie Elliot bundled the ball home from close range.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

There was another delay as more tennis balls were hurled onto the pitch from the Rangers fans behind the goal, forcing a stoppage of a couple of minutes as the goalmouth was, once again, cleared.

As the opening 15 minutes ticked by, it was hard to call it anything other than shambolic from the Light Blues as they were outfought in midfield and struggled to string more than a few passes together.

It took almost 22 minutes for the Light Blues to have a real effort at goal, Goldson doing well to get a shot off only for it to flash just wide of the near post.

Rangers were flat, lethargic and looked short of any ideas as they struggled to get forward in any sort of meaningful way and put real pressure on the Dundee keeper.

With the minutes ticking away towards half-time, it was clear there needed to be changes at the break if Rangers were to get into the game and keep any hopes of retaining the title alive.

However, the Gers were handed the chance to draw level on 40 minutes, McGhee penalised for pulling Morelos’ shirt in the box and James Tavernier stepped up but fired his penalty over the bar.

It was a soft decision but the penalty summed up Rangers opening 45 with his spot-kick as the travelling Rangers support could see their title dreams slipping away before their eyes.

One of the biggest problems for the Light Blues was that the players almost always seemed to be happier to take the easy pass and simply move the ball along rather than trying to penetrate the Dundee lines.

Facing a season-defining 45 minutes, Rangers made two changes, Helander and Arfield coming off for Joe Aribo and Fashion Sakala – although there was an immediate repeat of the stoppages which halted the start of the game.

The protests left several Rangers players visibly annoyed – Allan McGregor and Connor Goldson both appearing to have a go at fans throwing things onto the pitch.

Once the game did restart, there was a sense it was going to be more of the same from Rangers – and they did little to quell that fear in the fifteen minutes after the break.

There was a flurry of chances for the Gers as the intensity finally started to build, Lawlor doing really well to deny Morelos before holding a shot from the edge of the area.

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Moments later, he saved his side again, clawing out a downward header from Morelos at the cost of a corner.

It had taken an hour but Rangers had found some momentum and were starting to click going forward, Lawlor finding himself busier in five minutes than he had the preceding 60.

James Sands was sacrificed for Kemar Roofe as Rangers went for it and within seconds the Gers were level – Aaron Ramsey scoring the all-important goal.

The Wales international was quickest to react as Lawlor pushed a header from Roofe across goal and Ramsey knocked it home and send the travelling fans into raptures.

Suddenly Rangers looked like they knew they were in a game where their title hopes hinged on winning but with only 25 minutes left, there was still plenty to do.

Rangers continued piling the pressure on, winning a succession of corners and keeping Dundee pinned in their own area with the minutes ticking away.

After three stoppages because of fan protests, things took a ridiculous turn 15 minutes from the end as sprinklers on the edge of the Dundee area burst into life.

The delay killed Rangers’ momentum before a Dundee substitution further slowed down the game – Declan McDaid earning a booking for time-wasting as he made his way off.

Just as it looked like the three points were gone, Goldson popped up to fire home from inside the area and spark huge celebrations from the relieved Rangers fans.

It was far from a vintage performance but three points are three points with two massive Old Firm games on the horizon.

Next up is Celtic in a couple of weeks and what is now THE biggest game of Rangers’ season.

Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Bassey, Sands, Lundstram, Arfield, Ramsey, Morelos, Kent.
Subs: McLaughlin, Balogun, Barisic, Jack, Aribo, Kamara, Diallo, Roofe, Sakala.

Meanwhile, the Rangers B team were making a big impression on home soil as they thrashed their Celtic rivals in an emphatic showing at Ibrox.

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