Halliday filled in expertly to help Rangers finish Maribor job
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Halliday filled in expertly to help Rangers finish Maribor job

Rangers travelled to Slovenia looking to finish the job against Maribor with one outstanding weakness in the back four.

At left-back, Andy Halliday was forced to fill in on the left of the defence. That must have been a concern for Steven Gerrard, but he formed a tactical plan that worked to a tee.

Gerrard moved Scott Arfield out to the left of midfield. The former Burnley man is a tireless worker and protected Halliday throughout last night’s 0-0 draw.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 29: Max Power of Wigan Athletic vies with Scott Arfield of Rangers during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Rangers and Wigan Athletic at Ibrox Stadium on July 29, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It worked a treat. Arfield worked back when needed but tucked inside when Rangers had the ball; that allowed the Gers to keep possession and ease the pressure on the defence.

While Arfield and Gerrard deserve credit, so does Halliday for a hugely professional performance. He was focused throughout and came the closest to putting Rangers in the lead.

He would have opened the scoring if Alfredo Morelos’ cross had not drifted out of play. But his main task was a defensive one and he carried it out.

He was a vital part of a defence that got yet another European away clean sheet; that solidity will prove crucial if the Europa League campaign rolls along.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – AUGUST 06: Andy Halliday of Rangers during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hamilton Academical at Ibrox Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

In his own words

For his part, Halliday said: “There’s been a lot of improvement in this squad but I think the biggest improvement is resilience. I’m so proud of the boys. It was backs against the wall for the majority of the night but we stood up to the test.

“It’s not my natural position but when you’re called upon to do a job you have to come in and do it. It was difficult tonight because I had cramp for the last half hour so it was about gritting your teeth and getting on with it.

“I thought the three boys beside me were superb and it was a big clean sheet. What a goalkeeper too. His save before the penalty was great. The thing is with Greegsy, he might not get called on a lot in games but when he does he makes those big saves.”