Below par Rangers beaten by Livingstone

Rangers' Kenny Miller (left) and Livingston's Jordan White battle for the ball
Rangers' Kenny Miller (left) and Livingston's Jordan White battle for the ball

Rangers slumped to their second defeat in a week as they went under to second-bottom Livingston courtesy of a Craig Halkett header on the stroke of half-time.

Many observers believed that Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Alloa Athletic was the Light Blues’ poorest display of the season - but if anything this latest debacle was even worse as a laboured performance devoid of tempo, skill, drive and imagination produced another defeat.

In the past Rangers have never played particularly well at the Tony Macaroni Artena - and indeed could only manage a 1-1 draw on their last visit back in November - and this latest display was no better.

Mark Warburton made four changes from Saturday with Dean Shiels, Dominic Ball, Michael O’Halloran and Kenny Miller coming in for Jason Holt, Rob Kiernan, Barrie McKay and Nicky Clark.

On a cold spring evening in West Lothian it took quite some time for the game to warm up although Andy Halliday’s half-volley from some twenty yards was not far off the target.

O’Halloran was troubling the home side on the right - released by James Tavernier down the wing, his cutback only just failed to find Miller, then on eighteen minutes from a precision Ball pass his turn and shot from the edge of the area was inches wide.

Halliday likewise was agonisingly close with an angled 22-yard free-kick that just cleared the crossbar just before the half-hour mark.

Minutes later - in almost the home side’s first attack of the match - Danny Mullen broke away only to drag his effort wide then six minutes before the interval Sam Stanton burst through a static Light Blue defence only to shoot across the face of goal.

Right on the stroke of half-time Livingston took a deserved lead when former Ranger Craig Halkett rose to head home a Matthew Knox free-kick with the visitors’ defence once again culpable.

It had been a dreadful first-half performance from Rangers - and a smattering of boos rang out from the travelling support at the half-time whistle.

The scores should have been level early in the second-half when O’Halloran’s burst of pace took him clear on the right, his cutback finding Billy King at the back post who some managed to miss-kick with the goal at his mercy.

Rangers were denied a stonewall penalty on 55 minutes when home ‘keeper Marc McCallum blatantly pushed Billy King from behind only for Referee Greg Aitken to award only a corner.

Just before the hour King again had a fresh air miss from a Miller cutback and seconds later he was replaced by Barrie McKay with Jason Holt also substituting for Dean Shiels.

Nicky Law replaced Gedion Zelalem on 72 minutes - but Rangers appeared devoid of ideas and imagination as they sought an equaliser.

Jason Holt did force McCallum into a fine save following a one-two with Lee Wallace six minutes later - - but in a lightning break sixty seconds later home substitute Liam Buchanan burst through only to see his drive blocked by the outrushing Wes Foderingham.

Kenny Miller was inches away with a low twenty-yard left-foot drive in 85 minutes - but time ran out on Rangers and at the final whistle a crescendo of boos and jeers rang around the ground from the travelling ‘Gers support.

Livingston: McCallum, Kakay, Halkett, Neill, Longridge: J. Mullen, Knox (Sheerin 74), Pittman, Stanton; White (Buchanan 64), D. Mullen (Currie 70)

Unused Subs: Jamieson, Fotheringham, Telfer

Rangers: Foderingham; Tavernier, Ball, Wilson, Wallace; O’Halloran, Shiels (Holt 59), Zelalem (Law 70), Halliday, King (McKay 59); Miller

Unused Subs: McCrorie, Kiernan, Clark, Burt

Referee: Greg Aitken