Three Stars of the Game
Background: After each National Hockey League game — the local media votes for the ‘Three Stars of the Game’ — basically the Man of the Match — but as a treble!
First Star: Fraser Aird – There was no clear cut Man of the Match vs. Stenhousemuir (epitomized by Nicky Law being given the award at Ibrox) but Aird did play well enough in spurts to have a significant impact on the result. After starting well, Aird disappeared for a good stretch of the match. However, after Stenny went 2-1 up, Aird reemerged determined to put the opponents on their heels. He was one of the few proactive players for Rangers & was rewarded with a fluky goal off of an impressive set-up & shot. A few minutes later, he earned a corner & sent the subsequent ball off of the head of Daly. Ally McCoist has come under a lot of criticism over his reliance on veterans, however he should be given credit for sticking with Aird since the New Year.
Second Star: Andy Little – yes, it was a bit strange to see an in-form Dean Shiels relegated to the bench for Little – but credit should be given to the forward for being a constant threat in the box. His quick, reactionary knock-downs in Stenny’s end did pose some problems. However, the match was another reminder that Little is not the greatest of finishers & did little (ha!) to stake a claim as a long-term starter. So why is he the second star? If you watched the match, you’d understand why I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
Third Star: Ian Black – was indeed efficient playing his role in front of the defense. He was effective supporting Law in a deeper position & his passing was spot-on for most of the match. Unfortunately, as Rangers began playing with desperation towards the end of the match, Black did begin to press too much & became largely ineffective going forward.
David Templeton was off to another great start to the match on Saturday, pressuring the defence with his skill & speed. He channeled the spirits of his manager as he missed an absolutely open net, but he did make up for it with the key assist on Nicky Law’s goal. His savvy, one touch pass set up Law to lash it into the back of the net. But, Templeton never seemed to recover from the questionable yellow card he received & failed to have much of an impact after the simulation accusation.
Emilson Cribari’s insertion into the line-up is symbolic of Ally McCoist’s shortsighted approach to managing Rangers. Bilel Mohsni’s two match suspension was the opportunity to give Luca Gasparotto a go with the first team. It is almost as if McCoist is playing the 33-year old Cribari as a means of justifying his place on the roster & the wages he is paid. While he was surprisingly active on attack, the Brazilian’s passive defending played a key part in Stenhousemuir’s first two goals while the penalty called against him was a bit of a phantom call – the referee – standing a couple of feet away- did see something egregious on the play (even if no one else did) . While Mohsni’s temperament has been discouraging of late – it is doubtful Rangers would have given up three goals if he was in the lineup….Lee Wallace is the best player in Scotland’s League One & will likely be the best player next season in the Championship. When your skills are that much better then your opponent, it is imperative that you take control over shambolic matches like this one. Wallace did very little to impose his will on the opponent & it makes you wonder if the latest national team snub was a distraction…..Good god, Richard Foster is awful! Once he stepped onto the pitch he seemed to suck the air out of the match with his poor play out of the back. Even though he did have a few effective runs on the right side going forward, his woeful defence was shining bright. His double(!) turnover in the box created the corner kick that led to the eventual game-tying penalty. If he had cleared the ball cleanly, Rangers may have had the three points.