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: Steve Simonsen – his sprawling save in the opening minutes prevented a very different storyline from developing out of this match. If Livingston go up 1-0, it is difficult to see this Rangers side showing the resilience to overcome a deficit, especially with all of the recent pressure mounting on the club. Added a couple of other reflective saves – one particularly in the 40th minute off a set piece kept Rangers afloat. Also surprised many by actually tossing the ball around rather then his customary blind boots up the pitch.
Second Star: Darren McGregor – Fraser Aird’s opener was a quality strike but it was McGregor who rose above the crowd to win a towering header that ended up at Aird’s feet for the goal. Back in his actual position of center back, McGregor brought a sense of stability to the back line & his presence rubbed off on Lee McCulloch, who looked confident & composed for the first time in weeks. McGregor dominated in the air & was able to use his ability to read the play to stop threats before that matriculated.
Third Star: Fraser Aird – obviously his play led to both goals, with a cracker of a shot netting the opener & then his cross into the box being mangled by the Livingston defender for the own goal. Besides that, Aird played a very active match as nearly every attack in the opening half went through his play on the right. In the first half, the pace & energy of Nicky Clark & Aird really sparked the team’s play. Was one of the few players who continued that good play into the second stanza of the game.
Nicky Clark returned to the lineup & put in a smart performance. He was quick & willing to switch the play (actually unique on this Rangers team) in order to keep the defence on it’s toes. Was willing to drop back into the midfield to get engaged in the play & maintained his energy throughout (unlike his striking partner). Not as effective in the second half but had a lovely & deliberate deflection set up Nicky Law for a quality scoring chance that Law misfired on. No goals for Clark, but he definitely earned another go around in Rangers next match.
Kenny Miller’s first touch in the match didn’t appear to come until the 20th minute – obviously the lack of play up the middle from Law & Ian Black played a part in that, but it wasn’t Miller’s finest hour. There were moments of brightness as he & Clark linked up in attack but Miller seemed to lose his legs in the second half. Beyond a few bright spots, Miller really have little impact on the Rangers attack.