Rangers’ new first choice centre-back, Gareth McAuley, did not have the birthday he had hoped for.

The Northern Irishman turned 39 yesterday, and would have been hoping for three points and a clean sheet to celebrate. Yet, Scott McKenna fired Aberdeen ahead in the seventh minute, crushing hopes for the latter.

Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna celebrates giving the visitors an early lead. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

What’s more, fast-forward to the end of the game, and the Gers left the Ibrox pitch with neither. Afterwards, the manager complained that players failed to follow an agreed game plan.

McAuley concurred in his own post-match interview and cited one major reason for the poor performance.

‘We started slow and got sucked into how they wanted to play a little bit’, he told Rangers TV.

‘We started getting frustrated and giving free kicks away. It plays into their hands…When they’re putting that many balls into the box, Sod’s Law one is going to drop to them and he’s finished it well, McKenna, to be fair to him.’

Defenders at fault for Aberdeen goal

McAuley was slow to react in his attempts to stop the only goal of the game. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

McAuley was also quick to place blame on himself for the visitor’s goal.

 

‘…we feel we should have defended it better. That’s a disappointing thing for me personally and the other defenders’, the veteran explained.

Aware of Aberdeen’s conservative approach, surely the coaching staff warned the players pre-match about the danger of conceding an early goal.

Rangers also conceded from a corner in the October’s League Cup semi-final. (photo by Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Striking first gave them the opportunity to sit even deeper than usual, making breaking them down more difficult.

It’s certainly disappointing that Rangers were unable to enforce their own game plan.

However, hard work on the training ground will hopefully rectify the issues ahead of the weekend.