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: Kris Boyd – was involved throughout the match as a focal point to the Rangers attack. His smartly taken, quick free kick began the play on Nicky Law’s goal & he picked up the assist on Kenny Miller’s backbreaking goal. Boyd was constantly looking to link up with whomever was willing to make a run alongside him. He has developed a vision for the flow of play & on multiple occasions looked to flip the point of attack by passing against the grain. There was a huge roar of relief from the Ibrox faithful & the big man alike on his first goal of the league campaign. He was admittingly quite lucky on the play, as the Raith keeper bumbled the easy shot into the back of the net – but Boyd was due for some good fortune. It was a comprehensive outing from Boyd & a reminder of how dynamic he can be when he is on his game.
Second Star: Kenny Miller – there is an old adage in sport that a starter should not lose his job to injury. But, not everyone in the Rangers support was too convinced that Ally McCoist was making the right call when he went back to the veteran Miller over Nicky Clark – who arguably has been among Rangers best players so far this season. Not surprisingly, Miller repaid McCoist for his loyalty with a classic performance. Miller was driven to do well & it was a tangible example of a player leading by example. His work rate, as always, was relentless as he was decisive in his efforts to link up with Kris Boyd throughout their time in the match. He got the assist on Nicky Law’s goal while later being at the center of the turning point in the match. After Raith Rovers scored to cut Rangers lead in half, there was a moment of paranoia that Rangers may be on the verge of stumbling yet again. However, less then a minute later Miller pounced on a loose ball & slotted home the goal that completely deflated the spirits of the opponents. Rangers would not look back after that.
Third Star: Darren McGregor – finally allowed to play in his natural center-half position, McGregor thrived in an excellent outing anchoring Rangers defence. His coverage for the full backs, especially Richard Foster who was beaten repeatedly, was crucial as he promptly shutdown any chances Raith Rovers hoped to create. His marking was spotless & he seemingly dispossessed his opponents at will. Probably most impressive was his willingness to go in for tackles – hard tackles – while having an inherent nose (or toe) for the ball. There really is no good reason for Bilel Mohsni or Marius Zaliukas to replace McGregor who showed the potential to be Rangers best center back since Carlos Bocanegra.
Nicky Law put in a workmanlike performance as he may finally be settling into a redefined role for the team. Gone are the expectations of his glorious days as a Trialist & now may be ready to embrace the duties of putting in tireless efforts, with quick distribution & timely goals. It is still frustrating that McCoist builds the team with Law as a central midfielder over Lewis MacLeod but that should not devalue outings like this one – even though it was quite a shock to hear his name announced as the Man of the Match…Lewis MacLeod put in another positive performance as he continues to mark nearly each match with the right mix of confidence & brashness. His play was bright & at times on the verge of being scintillating – especially as he floated into a more central role. Rangers fans better prepare themselves for an onslaught of speculation during the January transfer window because an endless parade of English teams will likely be clamoring for the budding superstar…Two goals from Jon Daly are difficult to overlook as he showed what his role likely will evolve into this season – a second half sub who will always provide an aerial threat in the opposition’s box.
Yes, Richard Foster sent in two crosses that were finished off by Jon Daly – but they came at a time when Raith Rovers had already mailed in any hopes of a result & were ostensibly going through the motions. Foster went from not being too convincing on defence early in the match to downright awful as the game went on. Beaten too easily on the dribble on multiple occasions – one leading to a sloppy tackle from behind that led to his booking. Additionally, his distribution out of the back was helpless as he seemed adverse to working the ball out of the back & relied too much onlaunching the ball aimlessly up the field.