Rangers were far from their best as they struggled to a 1-0 win over Ross County this afternoon thanks to Ryan Kent’s deflected goal in the 77th minute at the Global Energy Stadium.
There were two changes from the midweek defeat by Hamilton as Matt Polster and Kent replaced James Tavernier and Florian Kamberi while Academy stars Nathan Patterson and Kai Kennedy made the bench.
Rangers started brightly and Glen Kamara stung Ross Laidlaw’s palm with a fierce strike from distance in the second minute as the Gers tried to make their early dominance count.
Despite their dominance of the ball, Rangers didn’t have many shots on goal that forced a save from Laidlaw but it looked as though the breakthrough was going to come 15 minutes in when Kent’s strike was only parried away, leading a melee inside the area, but the Gers couldn’t fire it home.
There was little threat from the hosts and the biggest danger to Rangers looked to be their own mistakes as players occasionally misjudged passes and lost their footing.
With Rangers having plenty of the ball, they should have really been able to get themselves into the lead but the Light Blues failed to take advantage as the clock ticked towards half-time.
Keeper Allan McGregor gave his manager reason to worry as he seemed to pick up an injury collecting the ball before appearing to shake it off.
There was a penalty shout for Rangers ten minutes before the break when Fontaine seemed to block Matt Polster’s cross with his arm but referee Andrew Dallas saw nothing in it.
Rangers continued to push forward in search of the opening goal as County dug deep and, despite creating several chances, the Staggies managed to keep it tight and get to the break with the scores still level.
It was County who had the first real chance after the restart as more woeful defending gifted the hosts an opportunity and Allan McGregor had to make a big save to deny Billy McKay after Joe Aribo was caught in possession just outside his own penalty box.
That seemed to serve as a bit of a wake-up call for Gerrard’s side as the Gers began to push forward again, but so much of the play broke down as Rangers entered the final third of the pitch.
With Rangers looking unlikely to break the deadlock, Gerrard turned to his subs with 30 minutes remaining as he brought Kamberi off the bench to replace the disappointing Hagi.
There didn’t seem to any urgency from Rangers as they looked set to fail to score for the third game on the bounce and County looked fairly comfortable dealing with the Gers attacks.
The hosts had their closest escape yet with just over 15 minutes left when Aribo’s header was cleared off the line as it looked set to drop just underneath the bar.
Gerrard’s side had a succession of corner kicks as County held firm but the goal felt as though it was coming…and it finally did.
Moments after he was supposed to come off for Jordan Jones, Ryan Kent’s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection beyond the despairing Laidlaw and into the net with 12 minutes left.
The goal broke any resistance County had and the biggest concern for Rangers fans was who was going to have a howler and hand the hosts a late equaliser.
Those fears were misplaced though as the Gers managed to see out the win and get a boost before facing Leverkusen and Celtic next week.
Rangers: McGregor, Polster, Barisic, Goldson, Edmundson, Davis, Kamara (Jones 72′), Hagi (Kamberi 62′), Aribo, Kent, Morelos (Katic 89′)
Subs: Foderingham, Halliday, Patterson, Kennedy,