RANGERS 1 STRANRAER 1
Rangers surrendered their 100% League record in a 1-1 draw with Stranraer at Ibrox on Boxing Day, conceding a last-minute equaliser for the third time this year and departing the scene with the derision of a 45,462 crowd ringing in their ears.
One positive aspect for the Ibrox men however was the return of Andy Little who made a welcome return from injury as a 55th minute substitute following a seven-week absence with a fractured jaw. Also returning following a similar spell on the sidelines, this time with an ankle injury, was Richard Foster – who would be an unused substitute.
Ally McCoist made one change from the visit of Ayr United all of nineteen days ago with Nicky Law returning from injury in place of Fraser Aird.
Stranraer travelled to Ibrox on the back of a five-match winning run that had produced sixteen goals and seen them climb to third top in League One.
Rangers dominated from the opening minutes Lee Wallace producing a surging run down the left which saw him cutting inside before visiting goalkeeper David Mitchell blocked his effort.
For all the home side’s pressure the Stranraer defence held firm, restricting the Light Blues to precious few clear-cut opportunities.
Lewis MacLeod was denied by Mitchell in 34 minutes when his shot from a Nicky Clark lay-off was tipped over by the ‘keeper – but the breakthrough finally arrived three minutes later when Lee McCulloch netted from the penalty spot after Clark had been hauled back by Frank McKeown.
It had been an uninspiring first-half – and Stranraer perhaps were encouraged by the narrowness of the score-line, opening out after the interval with Andrew Stirling capping a thrilling run with a twenty-yard shot that flashed just wide.
Andy Little was introduced to loud cheers in 55 minutes when he replaced Nicky Clark whilst at the same time Fraser Aird substituted for Arnold Peralta.
The Northern Ireland International striker almost made a swift impact when his shot from a Jon Daly knock-down was deflected wide on the hour.
Four minutes later Law almost made the game safe when his thundering 25-yard drive came back off the underside of the crossbar.
The Stair park outfit were far from out of it however – midway through the second-half Sean Winter’s inswinging free-kick from wide left was turned wide by Cammy Bell.
David Templeton replaced Lewis MacLeod in 72 minutes – but as the minutes ticked away the visitors were coming more and more into the game, controlling possession with Rangers restricted to hitting on the break.
One such break in the 89th minute saw a clever Templeton turn from a Daly knock-down produce a chip that only just cleared the crossbar.
Deep into injury time- from a Rangers corner-kick - David Templeton lost possession allowing Stranraer to mount a swift counter attack with Andrew Stirling racing down the right before sending over a low cross that found Jamie Longworth totally unmarked at the back post, the forward finding the time and space to control the ball before despatching it into the net behind Cammy Bell with the last kick of the ball..
It was a shocking goal to concede – the third late equaliser scored at Ibrox during 2013 by a visiting part-time team – and at the final whistle a crescendo of boos and jeers poured down from the stands.
Rangers: Bell; Faure, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Peralta (Aird 55), Black, Law, MacLeod (Templeton 72); Daly, Clark (Little 55)
Unused Subs: Simonsen, Cribari, Foster, Murdoch
Stranraer: Mitchell; Robertson, Docherty; Rumsby, McKeown, Bell (Kinnaird 85); Winter (Borris 72), Gallagher, Grehan (McKenna 65), Longworth, Stirling
Unused Subs: Fahey, MacGregor,
Referee: Andrew Dallas