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: Lee Wallace – maybe he was inspired by his latest Scotland snub, maybe it was a conscious effort to establish his leadership by example – but this was quite possibly Wallace’s best performance for Rangers since the club’s dismissal from the SPL. For the entire 90 minutes, Wallace was heavily involved in the match & played like a man possessed. He set the pace for the entire match & somehow never seemed to run out of steam as he paced up & down the pitch. If teammates slowed the tempo down, he implored them to match his efforts in pushing the play forward. Additionally, his defensive effort was clinical & it’s going to have to be in Rangers upcoming showdown with Caley Thistle.
Second Star: Ian Black – a surprising outing or a revelation? Ian Black was on top of his game as he effectively distributed the ball from the center of the park while confidently cleaning up the play in front of the center backs. Whether he was clogging up the midfield, or finding space in the Raith Rovers defence, Black was one of the keys to Rangers outshooting Raith 20-4. His goal was a just reward for a strong performance.
Third Star: Nicky Law – was much more involved in the flow of the play as Law drifted all over the midfield – looking particularly strong when he roamed into a more right sided position. His goal, which was triggered by Lee Wallace & a deft layoff from Lewis MacLeod, was a cracking shot that buried an already deflated Raith Rovers side. Now can Law put together this kind of performance on Tuesday in the League Cup? It will be a match that will go a long way towards defining his legacy as a Rangers player. Hopefully, his confidence is peaking at the right time.
Nicky Clark continues to thrive alongside Kris Boyd & his delicate, glancing header off of a Fraser Aird cross opened the onslaught of Rangers goals. Later, on multiple occasions he displayed the patience of a saavy veteran as he showed a willingness to hold up the ball as long as it took to allow midfielders & Lee Wallace to storm in to support the attack. It was a bit worrying to see him leave with a possible hamstring injury – it would be a rotten bit of luck if the injury is serious…Fraser Aird set the tone for Rangers early on as he was positive with nearly every touch of the ball in the opening stanza of the match. He constantly looked to put the goalkeeper under pressure either by launching crosses into the heart of the box or by testing the goalie with shots from the perimeter. Credited with the assist on Clark’s opening goal…Marius Zaliukas may have been banished to Ally McCoist’s dog house as Lee McCulloch was shifted back into defense to replace the struggling Lithuanian. The captain appeared to bring order to the defence, which has had its share of porous moments of late. He played with a confidence & assurance that appeared to rub off on Bilel Mohsni, who also played a strong match.