Scottish League Cup - Second Round
RangersRangers1Inverness CTInverness Caledonian Thistle0

Rangers 1-0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland at Ibrox

A deflected Lewis Macleod strike was enough to ensure Rangers beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle and secured a tie at Falkirk in the third round of the Scottish League Cup.

The game was finely balanced between the Championship side and their Premiership visitors at Ibrox.

Inverness lacked ambition for long spells, but were at their brightest and most purposeful when Rangers scored.

They might have equalised late on, but Ian Black cleared from Ryan Christie.

Ibrox was never going to be a hostile environment for Inverness, with a meagre home crowd of only 15,208 and Rangers entering the game as the team that had to prove itself capable of challenging top-flight opponents.

Rangers shareholders Sandy and James Easdale plus chief executive Graham Wallace were the subject of a banner protest at Ibrox
Rangers shareholders Sandy and James Easdale, as well as chief executive Graham Wallace, were the subject of a banner protest at Ibrox

These remain unsettling times for Rangers fans - some near the directors box held up protest banners before kick-off, at half-time and at full-time - and the consequence was a low-key atmosphere.

That ought to have encouraged Inverness, but they were cowed initially by the intensity of Rangers' pressing, with the visitors forced on to the back foot from the outset.

No chances were created, but the aggressive effort of the opening spell had the effect of restraining John Hughes' side.

The visitors' response was to try to regain their composure with a spell of possession inside their own half. They are accomplished passers of the ball, but there was little room for adventure and it was more than half an hour before they managed a shot on Rangers' goal.

Marley Watkins burrowed his way between Lee Wallace and Bilel Mohsni, but his strike was weak and directed straight at goalkeeper Steve Simonsen.

The home side were barely alarmed, but that was in keeping with a first-half display in which they held a slight upper hand. They attempted to be sharp and slick and although some of the interchanges went slightly awry, they were able to breach the Inverness defence on occasion.

Fraser Aird was prepared to be direct with his running, and his pace and trickery was a problem for Carl Tremarco, the Inverness left-back to deal with. One run and cross created panic in the away defence, but he did not receive the ball often enough to cause an enduring threat.

Rangers were capable without being imposing. Their best opportunity came through a mistake, when a ball out of defence ran straight to Nicky Clark, who immediately sent Kris Boyd through on goal. The striker had defenders haring after him, though, and he rushed his shot, stabbing it straight at goalkeeper Dean Brill.

The instincts are still alert enough, but Boyd's clinical touch has yet to fully return.

Inverness goalie Dean Brill and David Raven are put under pressure by Rangers striker Nicky Clark
Inverness' Dean Brill and David Raven are put under pressure by Rangers' Nicky Clark

Inverness were inhibited, to an extent, by Rangers' approach but also by their own caution. That self-restraint did not survive Hughes' half-time exhortations, and the visitors were brighter and more ambitious after the interval.

By committing more midfielders forward and not sitting so deep in defence, Inverness were able to play with greater purpose.

It was enough to prompt a moment of rashness from Mohsni - although the defender's erratic nature is always evident - and he gifted possession away near his own goal, but Billy McKay could only steer the subsequent cross wide at the far post.

Inverness grew in confidence, but Rangers also retained a threat on the counter-attack, and the home side could also take advantage of a stronger substitutes' bench.

After Jon Daly and David Templeton came on, the latter flashed a shot wide from the corner of the penalty area.

The added impetus brought reward, since another attack ended with Clark's cross bouncing off a defender - prompting claims of handball - and as others paused, Macleod gathered possession and shot on goal, with Josh Meekings inadvertently deflecting the effort past Brill.

Inverness were stung, but Rangers also allowed their positional discipline to collapse. The result was a game that suddenly began flowing from end to end.

It was the home side who proved more incisive, and Templeton almost scored a second with a jinking run and deflected shot, but this time Brill was able to push the ball wide.

Ally McCoist sank to his knees at that moment, in agony at being denied a decisive goal, Moments later, he would have felt the same lurch of emotion, as Black had to nod Christie's header from a corner kick off the goal-line.

Gary Warren was then adjudged to be offside as he headed the ball past Simonsen in the final moments.

Rangers ultimately, though, held on for a victory that lifted their self-esteem.

Line-ups

Rangers

Formation 4-4-2

  • 31Simonsen
  • 24McGregor
  • 3Mohsni
  • 6McCulloch
  • 5Wallace
  • 4AirdSubstituted forTempletonat 73'minutes
  • 10MacLeodBooked at 44mins
  • 7Law
  • 8BlackBooked at 26mins
  • 14Clark
  • 15BoydSubstituted forDalyat 72'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Smith
  • 9Daly
  • 11Templeton
  • 17Peralta
  • 22Shiels
  • 25Robinson
  • 26Zaliukas

Inverness CT

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 12Brill
  • 18Tremarco
  • 6Meekings
  • 5Warren
  • 2Raven
  • 10DoranBooked at 30mins
  • 16TanseyBooked at 42mins
  • 20Polworth
  • 15Watkins
  • 19WilliamsSubstituted forChristieat 73'minutes
  • 7Mckay

Substitutes

  • 1Esson
  • 11Ross
  • 14Devine
  • 17Horner
  • 22Christie
Referee:
Crawford Allan
Attendance:
15,208

Match Stats

Home TeamRangersAway TeamInverness CT
Possession
Home52%
Away48%
Shots
Home12
Away10
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home5
Away3
Fouls
Home11
Away16

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Rangers 1, Inverness CT 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Rangers 1, Inverness CT 0.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Ian Black (Rangers).

  4. Post update

    Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Lee Wallace (Rangers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Liam Polworth (Inverness CT).

  7. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Lee Wallace (Rangers).

  9. Post update

    Marley Watkins (Inverness CT) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. David Raven (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

  11. Post update

    Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Bilel Mohsni.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ian Black (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Greg Tansey (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Bilel Mohsni (Rangers).

  15. Post update

    Liam Polworth (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  16. Post update

    Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Dean Brill.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. David Templeton (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  18. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jon Daly (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  19. Post update

    Attempt saved. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Rangers 1, Inverness CT 0. Lewis MacLeod (Rangers) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom right corner.

Top Stories