Three Stars of the Game
Inspiration: 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! So in that spirt – here are Rangers Three Stars of the Game.
First Star: Kenny Miller – it wasn’t the prettiest performance for Rangers & while the club got the win it was against a Sacramento Republic squad that was resting many of it’s core first team players after a mid-week league match. However, Kenny Miller was effective from beginning to end on Saturday night. Miller’s quickness has not faded as he approaches his mid-30s & his work ethic was relentless. At times he was able to turn subpar passes into something palpabe & good passes into real threats. He was constantly making runs underneath Kris Boyd in attack & continuously showing for the ball in space. That second tiered option behind Boyd should be able to draw players like Nicky Law & Lewis MacLeod into the attack as the season goes on.
Second Star: Lewis MacLeod – it wasn’t MacLeod’s finest performance but he was the game changer in the match as he played a critical role in both goals. Both Kenny Miller & Darren MacGregor were quick to credit MacLeod for the goals scored after the match. His corners were showing potential of being dangerous leading up to the ball that ended up on the head of McGregor for Rangers goal & his pitch tilting ball to Miller was what cracked open the defence on Ian Black’s eventual winner.
Third Star: Nicky Law – it was refreshing to see Law aggressive throughout the match as he was pressing forward with vengeance. Too often last season he would do that at the start of the halves but then steadily drop back into a defensive role. Kenny Miller almost functioned as a magnet sucking Law back into the final third of the pitch. Nearly set up Kris Boyd with a goal in the 33rd minutes but Boyd sent the ball wide (err backwards) of the gaping net.
Darren McGregor’s goal was validation to an aggressive start to the second half for Rangers. His powerful header proved that he can be just as effective on set-pieces as the man he replaced, Bilel Mohsni. Additionally, he did an effective job cleaning up the play in defence & Ally McCoist credited McGregor for having a positive impact on his Marius Zaliukas in the heart of the back four. McGregor is doing all that he can to earn the starting nod when the season begins.
It was not a good outing in midfield for Lee McCulloch as he looks to earn his way into the starting eleven this season. However, he struggled to keep up with the play & that was exemplified as Sacramento’s Gilberto was the star of the first half as he carved up Rangers midfield. Gilberto’s effectiveness came to a screeching halt once Ian Black came into the match. Ironically, Black earned a yellow card within his first minutes on the pitch for tugging Gilberto’s shirt. For McCulloch, it was proof that there are better options at the club to take that holding midfield role – now the question comes down to how Ally handles benching the club’s captain.
On another note: the press row for the match was located on the pitch about 15-20 yards away from Rangers bench – here are some photos from the match.