Top two meet as Rangers face Falkirk at Westfield

Mark Warburton
Mark Warburton

It’s first versus second at Westfield on Friday night as Rangers face a Falkirk side that have proven to be consistent and stubborn opponents in the Championship race.

Rob Kiernan will return following suspension which should allow Dominic Ball to move forward into the holding role in midfield.

Only Hibernian have overcome Peter Houston’s men on League business this season on their own ground – and that courtesy of a controversial penalty back in October. Indeed only Hibs and Rangers have got the better of the ‘Bairns’ during the current campaign.

Rangers themselves are unbeaten since suffering defeat at Westfield just before Christmas in a game that was very much a tale of two penalties – one converted by John Baird in the opening minutes for a Danny Wilson foul that was committed at least two yards outside the area, the other producing a fine Danny Rogers save from a Martyn Waghorn penalty.

Indeed Mark Warburton has recently admitted that he had a rethink on his team’s playing style after that December setback – and will be determined to avoid any pitfalls as his side homes in on the title.

Even the two clashes at Ibrox have been too close for comfort as far as the Light Blues are concerned – Billy King marked his Rangers debut in January with a last-minute winner whilst back in October two late goals secured a 3-1 win after the outstanding Dean Shiels had struck an early opener.

Falkirk may trail Rangers by fully 14 points – but they currently lie second in the table and still very much in the running for the preferred promotion play-off position and have a side packed with talented players like John Baird, Will Vaulks, Craig Sibbald and on-loan Aberdeen ‘keeper Danny Rogers, who never fails to raise his game against the Ibrox men.

The Ibrox boss may not be taking anything for granted as far as promotion is concerned – but he did pay tribute to his squad.

“They have worked so hard and diligently and shown quality and consistency. From the first day of pre-season their attitude has been first-class, and they have adapted so well to the new playing style and the demands we have here.”

Warburton recalls all too clearly that reversal on Westfield’s artificial surface – but is adamant that revenge is no motive for his side.

“There is no score to settle. We had the bulk of possession and chances, and there was a very strange penalty given in the first couple of minutes.

“We go there well prepared and in a good vein of form and we look forward to the challenge. If we prepare well and deliver a performance, then we will be all right.”

Mark paid tribute to the excellent work done by Falkirk manager Peter Houston.

“Peter has done a magnificent job. Falkirk have put a run together - and it is hard for any team in any division to do that – but they have. We know it will be a tough game.”