Playing catch up is becoming a regular habit for Rangers, this week there was more of a positive feeling for the fans travelling to Dingwall after Celtic, Hibs and St Johnstone all dropped points. Shame Aberdeen couldn’t have obliged too despite Partick Thistle’s best efforts.
As expected, the team remain unchanged other than the enforced absence of Windass. Niko Kranjcar coming in to fill the inside left channel. In another stroke of predictability, Ross County set up in a defensive 4-5-1 with Craig Curran almost dropping level with the midfield when Rangers had possession. Only occasionally in the first half did they break ranks and pressure Cardoso and Alves anywhere near the half way line.
Rangers had the majority of possession and territory for the second week running and were only denied a lucky opener by the width of the crossbar. Candeias’ cross grazing the top of the bar with Scott Fox stranded in the Ross County goal. In the first thirty minutes, there was plenty endeavour from Rangers particularly down the right flank between Morelos, Candeias and Tavernier. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said about the other wing with Lee Wallace frequently isolated from Miller and Kranjcar with positive passages of play breaking down when the final pass from the veteran pair went astray.
Rangers’ pace picked up around the 25-minute mark, Morelos working space for a shot which was blocked when Miller was in a better position, Wallace also having a shot blocked after cutting inside onto his right foot after a good run. With thirty-one minutes played Rangers were in front. It was no surprise that the goal came from the right-hand side. Candeias played an inch perfect pass splitting the defence after inter play with Tavernier who managed to cut the ball back just as it caught the by-line. He stood the ball up perfectly for Morelos unmarked in the middle of the goal, 7 yards out, who duly powered a beautifully placed header into the corner past Fox diving to his right. Morelos is more and more looking like a complete forward capable of not only scoring and creating goals but also the dirty work required to lead the line in British football.
Craig Curran had Ross County’s first effort on goal after 37 minutes, but it was high and not so handsome with Foderingham not even entertaining a customary warm up dive. Jim McIntyre brought on Thomas Mikkelson for on loan Jaime Lindsay in a change of shape to a 4-4-2 to match up with Rangers in an effort to get back into the game. It certainly didn’t have an immediate effect as Rangers could’ve been awarded a penalty just a minute later. Naismith won the ball from Morelos after he had broken through but the challenge fell into the category of “ugly and kind of from the back with a scissor action”. Seen them given but if it’s against your team you say it’s a decent tackle, one of those ones.
No doubts about the second though. A total, unadulterated stinker from Scot Fox. Morelos pressured the keeper after a none too sympathetic pass back from Marcus Fraser, Fox narrowly avoided being tackled by Morelos with a drag back but whilst he was basking in his own awesomeness Morelos got back up and nipped in front of him to tap in to an empty goal. Rangers finally finding a two-goal cushion for the first time in the league. Although I doubt they will get an easier or more bizarre goal this season.
MORE RANGERS STORIES
Ross County were lucky not to be reduced to ten men when Andrew Davies led with an elbow straight into the back of Kenny Miller’s head and other than a deflected Bruno Alves free-kick, that was the first half.
Rangers started the second half slowly and didn’t really get out of first gear, Jack and Dorrans struggling to influence the game in the same manner as they had started. Without any real warning signs, Ross County narrowed the lead after 59 minutes. They had applied more pressure higher up and it paid off when Kranjcar was dispossessed just over half way. With Wallace already overlapping the ball was played wide to Curran behind him who curled a precise ball into Mikkelson who had split Alves and Cardoso. His diving header nestling into the same corner as Morelos’. Cardoso really should’ve stayed with Mikkelson as the only attacking player in the box after Alves had gone out to Curran.
Foderingham tipped a free kick around the post but otherwise, he had only been involved coming for cross balls and free kicks. It looked like he made a noticeable effort to come for more balls and he didn’t miss any.
Herrera and Pena replaced Miller and Kranjcar respectively around the hour mark after both had had ineffective games. Rangers improved as the game became more open and had a few half chances with Morelos, Dorrans and Pena all having a go. Morelos went off to a standing ovation on 80 mins for Rossiter to shore things up. It looked like a 4-5-1 originally but this was to allow Pena to play off Herrera. Pena should’ve had a debut goal but his touch let him down at the vital moment after a drilled cross ball from Candeias, laying off to Herrera who didn’t get a shot off either. Pena looked to get in behind at every opportunity and offers something different to Miller in that role.
The game was put to bed on 88 minutes when another Wallace overlap was cut back to Herrera to guide a caressed finish into the far bottom corner. Despite the nerves at 2-1, Rangers were comfortable winners and more than deservedly so with Wallace, Tavernier, Candeias and Morelos providing a constant attacking threat. Herrera and Pena also deserve credit for the way they linked up when they came on.
Into the international break on a good away win (fifth in a row) and a good performance again showing Rangers aren’t far away but Miller and Kranjcar look increasingly out of place in the more dynamic attack. Rangers could’ve done with playing again soon to keep momentum going after a rare weekend of positivity!
Man of the Match – Alfredo Morelos
As well as two goals, both brilliantly taken for different reasons, he never gave the defence a minute’s peace. Always looking to go forward or find space for a shot. Candeais wasn’t far behind him, great work rate and quality of passing and crossing.
Foderingham, Tavernier, Wallace, Alves, Cardoso, Jack, Dorrans, Candeias, Kranjcar (Pena – 63), Miller (Herrera – 60), Morelos (Rossiter – 80)
Fox, Naismith, Davies, Fraser, Kelly, Lindsay (Mikkelson – 38), O’Brien, Gardyne, Chow (Draper – 61), Dow (Keillor-Dunn 52), Curran