Darren McGregor may not have been the most obvious match winner in the blue of Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday – but it was his stunning 83rd minute strike that gave his side the momentum to overwhelm Cowdenbeath in the closing stages of a 4-1 win.
Against his former club, the defender’s powerful drive turned the tide just when it appeared that another home draw was on the cards for the Ibrox men.
“At 1-1 you were thinking ‘not again’... Cowdenbeath hadn’t been in the game but they tired in the closing stages and we created a lot of chances,” said McGregor.
Rangers had been in complete control of the game – but a defensive error allowed Oyenuga to level the scores in 76 minutes, a real shock to the system for everyone involved in the game.
McGregor continued: “It was a lapse of concentration by Bilel Mohsni but the boss has always made it clear that collectively we must take responsibility. With the new manager’s arrival we had to look forward. Right now competition for places is fierce.”
With Hearts now having secured automatic promotion through winning the Championship, McGregor had the chance to both look back to last week’s crucial win against nearest challengers Hibernian at Easter Road and to the visit of the Tynecastle men to Ibrox next weekend.
He explained: “Last week was a real turning-point – it was a good win for us and it was great to keep a clean sheet at Easter Road. We want to finish second – but let’s not get carried away. We’ve got something to prove next week against Hearts – they are worthy Champions. Back in November we could have moved to within one point. We’ve been poor at times – but next week is a chance to right some wrongs.”
McGregor’s strike drew praise from manager Stuart McCall.
“It was a fantastic strike by him - something you don’t probably associate with ‘Daz’ if I’m being honest. He put in a wholehearted performance which is what we needed,” said McCall.
“We might not be great all the time and that’s what I’ve said to the players. We’ll make mistakes but as long as you give your desire and your commitment to your team-mates - that’s all we can ask.”
There was praise from the Ibrox boss for what – despite the late scare – was an impressive display.
“I thought there were again some really good performances by a lot of individuals,” he said. “We could have made things easier for ourselves if we had taken our chances. I mean - without being disrespectful - we probably could have matched Hearts’ score if we had had our shooting boots on. However all in all it was a really good day.”
Two late excellent goals from Haris Vuckic did put a more realistic slant on the scoreline and McCall enthused over the Newcastle loanee, a 69th-minute substitute for Dean Shiels.
“I’ve said before he reminds me so much of big Alexei Mikhailichenko who I used to play with. He’s very graceful, left footed, technically excellent and can score a goal.
“I know he was slightly disappointed not to start but he was a good substitute to have at that stage when they are tiring because he’s got great ability.
“All in all, I’m delighted with the result and the performance and obviously to hear the other results just makes it a really good weekend for us,” McCall added.