Thursday night’s draw with Maribor wasn’t a match where the players were given freedom to express themselves. Each player was given a job to do, especially in the defensive sense, and all of the team stepped up well to do that. Here are my ratings for the players on the night.
ALLAN McGREGOR – 9
When McGregor was signed, most Rangers fans were happy. It was clear his experience and ability would benefit the team. The only slight concern anyone had was that he may not have been quite as good as he used to be, now being 36. At the moment, it looks like he’s not lost a single step. He made two excellent saves, the one from Tavares being stunning, and denied the Maribor captain from the penalty spot to keep his clean sheet. His experience and ability to slow down the match also helped the team, as did his command of the box at crosses. Both the Maribor team and their fans were throwing everything at him, and he never looked under pressure at any time.
JAMES TAVERNIER – 7
Tavernier was clearly more conservative in this match than he would normally be. He defended well, very rarely beaten in any defensive duel. From his set-piece delivery, Rangers created a couple of great chances in the first half. His leadership and composure ensured the team got over the line.
CONNOR GOLDSON – 8
Goldson seemed to win every header when defending corners in the first half. He was reading the game well and knew when to keep possession or just clear the ball. He blocked a shot early in the second half when Rangers looked in real trouble and was solid throughout. The concession of the penalty was very unlucky, as it didn’t look like a foul. Also had a very late run at the Maribor defence and shot just wide.
NIKOLA KATIC – 8
Katic was strong again in defence, both in the air and on the deck. He threw himself in front of shots and cleared crosses under pressure. Like Goldson, he knew when to just get rid of the ball or when to try and keep it. His only mistake came in the first half, where he was caught out trying to win the ball near the halfway line. Late in the match, he had a lovely moment where he read the play, held off the striker, and chipped a lovely pass to Halliday when under pressure.
ANDY HALLIDAY – 7
Halliday was clearly a player Maribor were looking to target. With his lack of matches so far this season, it was an area of concern for Rangers fans. With that in mind, Halliday had a great game. There were a few moments where he was caught out in terms of positioning, but nothing more than that. He was good on the ball, strong in any tackles, and never really beaten for pace. There was absolutely no sign of frustration or lack of sharpness despite his limited game time so far.
RYAN JACK – 8
Jack had a slightly loose start to the match, with a few passes going astray. A lot of that was to do with how Rangers set up, with easy outlets not available. As the game wore on, he became more secure on the ball. Defensively, though, he was spot on from the first minute. He read danger and won a lot of second balls in midfield. His strength and stamina meant that Maribor struggled to find space in that area of the pitch. He was even willing to take a booking when caught out once in the first half.
OVIE EJARIA – 6
This rating is a little harsh. Ejaria worked really hard and did the job asked of him well. On the ball, he was very good at keeping possession. He was asked to play as a wide midfielder when defending, and rarely got caught out. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 20 and has limited first team experience. Due to that, he lost a bit of focus in the second half, losing the ball then being beaten too easily in the space of a few minutes. That can be explained by his lack of experience of playing numerous matches so close together.
SCOTT ARFIELD – 7
Arfield went into every tackle with absolute commitment. He pressed the ball as often as possible and covered between wide left and central midfield excellently. On the ball, he played smart passes and helped the team get out of trouble more than once. He’ll be annoyed at the two chances which fell his way, both from half-cleared set-pieces. He was unable to get the right connection either time.
DANIEL CANDEIAS – 7
We know that Candeias is going to put in a great shift any time he plays. In this match, his role was a little different from usual. He was asked to play narrow and essentially man mark a central midfielder. He did that well, giving the team a lot through forcing mistakes and tracking back. In an attacking sense, the first half was a frustrating one for him. In the second half, he got a couple of chances to hit shots from distance, with one drawing a save from the Maribor keeper.
ALFREDO MORELOS – 8
Morelos is on a run in terms of performances lately. Yet again, he looked absolutely determined to put in a real shift and win the game. In the first half, he got Rangers up the pitch more than once, and won free-kicks and set-pieces. He was willing to run at the defenders when on the ball, or take the foul when facing his own goal. In the second half, his link-up play created chances for others. Unfortunately, the only chance that fell to him was under pressure on the bounce and he lashed it over the bar.
JAMIE MURPHY – 7
Murphy, like Candeias, was asked to do a very defensive job in the first half. He tried to combine that with a threat on the counter-attack. A lack of numbers going forward meant his runs didn’t get much by way of reward. In the second half, he was given a little more freedom. He should have done better with one chance in particular when played through by Morelos. Overall, he did a great job for the team.
RYAN KENT – 4
Kent came on for Ejaria and slotted into that role, to begin with. He was then moved wider after further substitutions. He offered a good threat on the break.
ROSS McCRORIE – 3
McCrorie came on for Murphy and offered more defensive stability to the midfield.
How did you rate the players on the night? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts.