FALKIRK 1 RANGERS 1
Rangers fell further behind at the top of the Championship at Westfield l, struggling to a 1-1 draw with a disappointing performance that could all too easily have
ended in another defeat.
Falkirk went into this game unbeaten in 2015 in all competitions, an eight-game run that included a 3-2 defeat of Hearts at Tynecastle and a 3-3 with Hibernian at Easter Road.
Rangers’ two earlier visits to Westfield this season resulted in 2-0 and 3-1 wins in league and League Cup respectively – both hard-fought affairs with two late goals decisive in August and a Dean Shiels counter crucial as the Ibrox men recovered from an early Rory Loy strike in the cup-tie one month later.
Kenny McDowall made three changes from Kirkcaldy – all enforced – with Darren McGregor, Bilel Mohsni and Steven Smith replacing Lee McCulloch, Marius Zaliukas and Lee Wallace.
Kris Boyd wore the captain’s armband in the absence of McCulloch and Wallace.
It was the home side who had the better of the opening exchanges on the artificial surface but it was Rangers – wearing all-red – who opened the scoring on 20 minutes when Boyd’s header from a Nicky Law free-kick was blocked by Tom `Taiwo, the ball breaking to Darren McGregor whose low vicious drive found the net.
The Ibrox men were ahead for all of two minutes – Craig Sibbald feeding John Baird wide left, his cross finding ex-Ranger Rory Loy who rose unchallenged to head home the equaliser.
It was now end-to-end action – and immediately afterwards Boyd almost restored Rangers’ lead when his header at the far post from a Law cross was touched onto the woodwork by home goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
At this stage the game looked like going either way – and just before the half-hour mark Will Vaulks sent a 20-yard drive inches wide of Lee Robinson’s right-hand post.
The half ended all square – and at this juncture it was difficult to predict a winner with the home side’s pace and quick passing movements causing problems for the makeshift Rangers’ defence.
The opening stages of the second half were little better with Rangers struggling to make any sort of impression on a Falkirk side who were playing the only football on view.
John Baird tested Lee Robinson with a low drive that the ‘keeper held, then midway through the second half Rory Loy again threatened with a drive that was blocked by Mohsni.
Falkirk: MacDonald; Duffie, McCracken, Grant, Leahy; Taiwo (Alston 73), Vaulks, Kerr, Sibbald (Smith 85); Loy, Baird (Morgan 80)
Unused Subs: Bowman, Dick, Maybury, Cooper
Rangers: Robinson; Faure, McGregor, Mohsni, Smith; Vuckic (Miller 75)Hutton, Murdoch (Templeton 76), Law; Boyd, Clark
Unused Subs: Daly, Shiels, Simonsen, Halkett, Walsh
Referee: Willie Collum