Rangers boss McCoist hails influence of Clark and Aird

Rangers manager Ally McCoist
Rangers manager Ally McCoist

Rangers may have secured their first Championship win of the season on Friday night – but for an hour at Falkirk they were far from impressive – as even Ally McCoist acknowledged.

Arguably, however, the real eye-opener from the Ibrox boss was his admission that the intensity and pace of the game had not been something he had anticipated.

“The intensity of the game caught everyone by surprise – but the result was the most important thing tonight,” he said.

McCoist was both positive and frank as he looked back on the 90 minutes at Westfield.

“Any neutrals present must have loved this game. It’s always very tough to come here and get a result.

“Our performance tonight was not as good as we would have hoped but we had to get back to winning ways after the Hearts defeat.

“Cammy Bell had a couple of outstanding saves but we also missed a couple of great chances ourselves.”

Without question the turning-point of the game came with the introduction of second-half substitutes Nicky Clark (for the injured Kenny Miller) and Fraser Aird, as the Rangers Manager highlighted.

“The two substitutes were excellent with their pace and positivity. Fraser Aird had a terrific season for us last year and he’s an integral part of the squad. He’ll be a big player for us again this year – he was injured pre-season in Canada but if he keeps playing like he did at Falkirk he’ll be one of the first names on the team sheet.”

The early games of the new campaign have seen the Light Blues score five goals in three outings – four of them in either the closing stages or indeed in extra-time.

“We got a break at the first goal but you have to prepare for all outcomes and it doesn’t matter when you score. The game lasts ninety minutes - if you score two late goals and you get the points that’s terrific.

“There wasn’t an awful lot in the match and I felt our goalkeeper made two fantastic saves when it was 0-0..I know it’s an obvious statement but goals change games and you could see a big change in our play after we got the first goal.”

Nicky Clark secured all three points with the second goal in 84 minutes – and was quick to claim it as his own, despite the counter-claim of team-mate Nicky Law.

“I’m a striker and I want to score goals so there’s no apology for stealing Nicky’s goal. It was coming at me two yards out.

“I did the same thing to Jon Daly last year at Dunfermline. As a striker, you want to score goals and it doesn’t really matter how you get them. Any striker in the world would have done the same thing as me.”

There was praise from Nicky for goalkeeper Cammy Bell, who produced two superb saves in the space of sixty seconds when the score-line remained blank, firstly from an Alex Cooper free-kick then at point-blank range from a David McCracken header.

“I said to Cammy after the game that his save from the free kick was great but the stop from the header at the corner straight after was even better. It was unbelievable - it was right at his feet and he got down well and got it away. That was like scoring a goal for us given it was 0-0. If it went in it would have been a completely different game. It’s good we’ve someone like that we can rely on.”

The striker acknowledged – as did his Manager – that the opening goal in 77 minutes was more than a touch fortuitous,

“It took a wee bit of luck with the deflected goal to get us going but after that there was only going to be one winner.”

Cammy Bell was keen to underline the significance of the 2-0 win.

“We knew it was going to be tough but it was a determined display from us and we showed a bit of character tonight. Things weren’t going too well for us in the first -half but we weathered the storm and managed to turn that around and get the three points.

“This is going to be a very hard place for anybody to come and get three points so we were delighted to do it.”

Rangers are back in action on Monday night, hosting Clyde in the Second Round of the Challenge Cup – a Clyde side managed by former Ranger Barry Ferguson. McCoist spoke enthusiastically of the cup-tie,

“We’re really looking forward to seeing Barry and Bob Malcolm back. They were great servants to our club and they’re great friends of Rangers. Like most of the teams we’ve faced in the last couple of years, Barry will have them well organised and enthusiastic.”

The Challenge Cup is one competition that has eluded Ally McCoist and Rangers during the past two years. The Ibrox boss will be looking to take one step closer to rectifying that on Monday evening.