There were three clear candidates for man of the match against Shkupi on Thursday night. The players will know they could have played better overall. Despite that, there were signs of promise in some, and a real contribution from the player who I believe was the best on the night.
Connor Goldson had a very solid match for his competitive Rangers debut. With so few games played in recent years by the defender, there was a fear and a huge unknown factor attached to him. On the evidence of last night, he’s a steal.
It’s certainly fair to say it wasn’t his biggest test, but it was an assured performance. He won the ball well without ever having to dive in, started attacks from the back, and made sure our midfield could press with some confidence. Hopefully, this is just the start for him.
Jamie Murphy played well, getting a goal and winning the penalty for the second. In the first half, he was a constant threat, beating players easily and getting crosses in. As the tempo slowed in the second half, he was able to mix things up and come short to link up play, or stay wide to try and stretch it. He’ll have better games, but he looks sharp and ready for the season ahead.
Man of the match in my opinion was James Tavernier. He got the assist for the first goal, and scored the penalty to ease some of the nerves surrounding the tie. Had Windass and Morelos been on better form in front of goal, he’d have had another couple of assists. His crossing was excellent, and he really drove the team forward every time he got the ball. When the team looked a little tired, this being the first 90 minutes in a while for them, he was still able to beat players and make runs.
As always, his link up play with Candeias was one of our main strengths. Defensively, he didn’t have any real issues, despite our system meaning he’s often left to do that job alone. There were doubts about him being named captain from many fans. On the evidence of this match, he’s clearly someone who will look to lead by example.
Do you agree that Tavernier was man of the match? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts!