Rangers 3-3 Stenhousemuir: Match Report
Rangers 3-3 Stenhousemuir: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Rangers held at Ibrox
Rangers were denied their 10th victory in a row as Stenhousemuir sensationally claimed a well-deserved point at Ibrox in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Stenhousemuir had twice led through Sean Dickson and Sean Higgins. Nicky Law and Fraser Aird had helped put Rangers level before Jon Daly looked to have set the home side on course for another three points.
But Higgins hit the equaliser from the penalty spot with 15 minutes remaining.
Rangers started the match on the front foot, and almost opened the scoring within five minutes. A high free-kick into the area by McCulloch caused confusion between Stenhousemuir goalkeeper Chris Smith and his defence, Stewart Greacen eventually clearing behind for a corner.
Fraser Aird's in-swinging delivery was flicked towards goal at the near post by Emilson Cribari, Smith doing well to push the Brazilian's effort on to the bar.
David Templeton then went close, turning his man on the edge of the area before firing just over.
The last time Stenhousemuir came to Ibrox they suffered the humiliation of an 8-0 defeat, however a repeat of that scoreline never looked likely, and they stunned Ibrox into silence after 14 minutes by taking a sensational lead with virtually their first attack of the match.
David Rowson did well to release Nicholas Devlin down the right wing, and the full-back's clever ball inside found Sean Dickson in the area.
The midfielder was allowed all the time he wanted to chest the ball down before grabbing his fifth goal of the campaign with a cool right-foot finish past Cammy Bell.
Templeton's afternoon would get even worse soon afterwards, as he somehow contrived to slice the ball over an open goal from all of six yards after great set-up play by Little. The Northern Irishman did well to turn his defender before laying the ball across the face of goal where the arriving Templeton looked on in horror at the back post as his side-foot effort ballooned way over the top with Smith stranded.
Just as Rangers looked to be losing their way, they produced their best piece of play of the day so far after 35 minutes to drag themselves level. Good work on the left by Little allowed him to cut inside and find Templeton on the right-hand edge of the area, whose clever first time ball fell perfectly into the path of the on-rushing Law. The Englishman opened up his body to shape a lovely right-foot curling effort beyond the despairing dive of Smith to claim his eighth goal of the season.
Rangers almost took the lead just a minute later, Little clipping the top of the crossbar with a crashing effort from 20 yards as the home side looked to turn the screw.
Their momentum was halted somewhat with an injury to Faure right on 45 minutes following a 50/50 challenge with McKinlay, and he was stretchered from the field to be replaced by Richard Foster.
Stenhousemuir seemed to regain their composure at the interval and carved out a decent chance at the start of the second half, Dickson's volley across goal from a corner into a mass of bodies in the Rangers penalty area causing concern before being hooked clear.
Ian Black picked up a booking for dissent after 49 minutes, and moments later Rangers were nearly again undone by an almost identical corner kick routine, a clipped delivery being flicked on by Ross McMillan to the back post where again the waiting Dickson was unmarked.
This time he controlled the ball before firing in a low effort that was blocked by Lee Wallace as it looked to be heading in.
The home side failed to heed the warnings though, and they incredibly fell behind again after 57 minutes. Rowson won the ball in midfield and released Sean Lynch down the right, who took his time before perfectly picking out Higgins as he arrived unmarked in the area to plant a firm header low past Bell.
Just as frustration was growing around the home stands as Rangers struggled to carve out many clear-cut opportunities, a stroke of luck following some good play by Fraser Aird drew the Ibrox men level after 67 minutes.
Aird picked the ball up and drove in-field towards the heart of the Stenhousemuir defence before unleashing a right-foot effort that took a huge deflection past the already-committed Smith.
Rangers took the lead for the first time after 71 minutes.
Aird's delivery from a disputed corner being met perfectly by Rangers' top scorer Daly, whose flicked header found the bottom right-hand corner for his 18th goal of the season.
Just when it looked as if Rangers would eventually shake off Stenhousemuir's stubborn resistance, the Ochilview men again hit back. A determined run by Eddie Malone resulted in a corner which was cleared by McCulloch for yet another. This time, referee Aitken spotted a push by Cribari on McMillan and pointed to the penalty spot, booking the defender for the infringement.
Higgins kept his cool to finish and level the scores yet again after 74 minutes, the attacker picking up a booking for his celebration.
Darren Smith came on to replace McKinlay after 75 minutes, and Little went close to regaining the lead for Rangers a minute later, his header being turned over by Chris Smith.
They went even closer soon after, a fine cross by Black almost being turned in from point-blank range by Stewart Greacen, Smith somehow managing to keep the ball out with a fine save.
Stenhousemuir sent Joshua Watt on for scorer of the opening goal of the afternoon Dickson after 82 minutes, Ally McCoist responding by sending on Dean Shiels for Little two minutes later.
McCulloch was then booked for a crude lunge on substitute Darren Smith, before Errol Douglas replaced the excellent Higgins for Stenhousemuir on the stroke of 90 minutes.
Neither side could find the winner in injury time, but Stenhousemuir will undoubtedly celebrate a famous point at Ibrox after the pain of their last visit to the stadium
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