Rangers 1-1 Saints (26.10.16)

Saints drew 1-1 with Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday evening, a result which lifted the club into 3rd place in the table ahead of Hearts who lost at home to Kilmarnock.

A stunning Blair Alston strike, his first goal for the club, opened the scoring after only 5 minutes but Rangers equalised with eight minutes left of the first half through Joe Garner who headed in from a corner.

A strong second half display could easily have seen St. Johnstone leave Glasgow with the three points but Tommy Wright will be pleased with the level of performance shown by his side.

MATCH REPORT

Ibrox was the destination for Saints this evening for a SPFL Premiership match with Rangers. Saints made two changes to the side that defeated Dundee 2-1 on Sunday as Steven MacLean and David Wotherspoon dropped to the bench to be replaced by Blair Alston and Paul Paton. However, Saints were forced into a late change as Chris Millar came in for Murray Davidson who pulled up in the warmup. Aaron Comrie took Millar’s place on the bench. Rangers manager Mark Warburton made four changes to the side that started their 1-0 Betfred League Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic three days ago as Wes Foderingham, Joe Garner, Harry Forrester and Michael O’Halloran came into replace Matt Gilks, Barrie McKay, James Tavernier and Kenny Miller.

Saints got the match underway and they took the lead after 5 minutes as Blair Alston nicked the ball off Lee Hodson just inside the box and then curled a beautiful strike past Foderingham. It was Alston’s first goal for the club after joining from Falkirk in the summer.

Good play by Rangers midfielder Josh Windass on 13 minutes saw him setup Lee Wallace whose powerful strike was pushed behind for a corner by Zander Clark. Then 3 minutes later former Saints player Michael O’Halloran was the first player in referee Kevin Clancy’s book as he was shown a yellow card for diving.

On 17 minutes Joe Garner slipped the ball to Harry Forrester and he danced past a couple of Saints players before having a shot which was gathered by Clark at his near post. The home side created another chance 3 minutes later as the ball was played forward by Andy Halliday to Wallace who broke into the Saints box before cutting it back across the face of the Saints goal. However, Garner couldn’t get there to make a connection as the ball went out for a goal kick.

A slack ball on 23 minutes was picked up by Alston and he advanced forward before passing to Chris Kane who did well to turn his marker before having a shot which went wide.

A minute later O’Halloran broke down the right before cutting the ball back to Jason Holt whose first-time shot was saved by Clark.

O’Halloran then won Rangers a corner on 37 minutes. Windass stepped up to take the corner and he delivered a swinging ball into the box as Garner rose to plant a powerful header past Clark to equalise for the home side.

Saints were awarded a free kick on 39 minutes after Danny Swanson had been fouled on the edge of the area. Swanson took the free kick himself and he delivered a good ball into the box which was punched behind for a corner by Foderingham. The corner was taken by Liam Craig and his ball into the box was cleared by the Rangers defence but only as far as Chris Millar who had a shot from distance that went over.

Zander Clark made a great save to deny Windass just on the stroke of half time after the midfielder had created space for himself to unleash a powerful strike from 25 yards.

5 minutes after the restart Alston produced a great turn on the right to get away from his man and then broke forward before eventually passing to Brian Easton who found himself in space to have a shot which went inches over. Then a minute later Craig unleashed a shot from 20 yards which went over.

On 59 minutes Millar won the ball in midfield before playing it out wide to Craig whose cross picked out the unmarked Swanson on the edge of the area. The Saints midfielder then had a shot which was saved by Foderingham.

Saints created another chance on 66 minutes as Alston broke down the right before crossing to Swanson who flicked the ball onto Kane and the Saints striker saw his shot saved at the second attempt by Foderingham.

Rangers were trying to play the ball from the back which was frustrating the home support as Saints pressured them into many mistakes. However, on 74 minutes Wallace did well to get away from Steven Anderson before crossing to Garner whose downward header was tipped over the bar by Clark. Then a minute later Halliday cut inside and had a shot from just outside the box which was saved by Clark.

Saints came within inches of retaking the lead on 76 minutes as Alston’s strike hit the post after being played in by Swanson.

With 3 minutes remaining O’Halloran won Rangers a corner which was cleared by Easton. Alston was then first to the ball and he broke forward but Clint Hill got back to knock the ball behind for a corner.

Then with a minute remaining substitute David Wotherspoon did well to get back to block a Kenny Miller strike as Saints held firm to secure a great point.

Man of the Match: Blair Alston

Rangers: Foderingham, Hill, Kiernan, Wallace, Garner (Waghorn 83), Windass (Miller 67), Forrester (McKay 76), Halliday, Hodson, Holt, O’Halloran Unused Substitutes: Gilks (GK), Tavernier, Dodoo, Crooks Booked: O’Halloran, Garner, Kiernan Scorer: Garner (37)

Saints: Clark, Alston, Anderson, Millar (Wotherspoon 83), Swanson, Shaughnessy, Paton, Foster, Easton, Kane (Cummins 68), Craig Unused Substitutes: Mannus (GK), Comrie, MacLean, Coulson, Gordon Booked: Millar, Craig, Paton Scorer: Alston (5)

Referee: Kevin Clancy Attendance: 46,563

Match Report by Daryl Scott