Stranraer hit by early blow

Grant Gallacher leans on Ian Black as he powers towards the Rangers goal
Grant Gallacher leans on Ian Black as he powers towards the Rangers goal

Stranraer 0, Rangers 2

Stranraer gained the plaudits if not the points when Rangers returned to Stair Park on Tuesday night.

For long periods it was Stephen Aitken’s Blues that played the better football and they more than matched the Ibrox giants but just couldn’t find that crucial cutting edge.

It could hardly have started any worse for the Blues as they fell behind in the fifth minute. Stranraer gave the ball away needlessly and as Rangers surged forward down the left it was Lee Wallace who played a one-two with Nicky Law before cutting inside and drilling a shot across David Mitchell and into the bottom corner of the net.

Stranraer responded well and Cammy Bell had to make a smart save after a shot had hit Jon Daly and appeared to be heading towards his own net.

Rangers had an opportunity to double their advantage. Steven Smith found Daly with a great cross but the Gers top scorer’s header was misdirected.

Stranraer went close to equalising and it required a brilliant save from Bell to keep them out. Scott Robertson smashed a low shot at goal from about 12 yards with plenty of power but the Gers keeper reacted superbly and flicked the ball past the post for a corner.

Another chance came when a cross from Mark Docherty was half headed clear to Frank McKeown and the Blues captain turned and struck a decent shot that looked net bound but struck a covering defender.

Into the second half and Rangers sensed a bit of uncertainty had crept into Stranraer’s play and their rhythm had been temporarily lost.

Law burst through on goal but just as he reached the 18-yard box, Robertson caught him with a poor challenge which drew another caution.

Daly came extremely close to doubling Rangers’ advantage at the end of a fine move just before the hour mark.

But the home side refused to lie down and another attack soon followed. Stirling made a strong run and crossed low but it eluded Jamie Longworth, Sean Winter and Grant Gallagher.

As the game wore on, chances began to dry up and it increasingly looked like it would take a mistake or something unusual to perk the match back into life.

Stranraer continued their gallant effort but it proved to be in vain when Rangers killed the game in the final minute. A long ball by Foster went through to Mitchell, but his indecision cost him and he headed the ball against Jon Daly, who then found himself with a clear view of goal and he calmly slotted the ball into the net.

The final flurry came from Stranraer with Stirling finding a shot from distance that drew a decent save from Bell but in the end the visitors held on to take the points back north up the A77.

Stephen Aitken reflected on a good performance where his team had matched a very good side on the verge of being crowned champions. Stranraer had proved they could compete with Inverness and Rangers and would be ready to go again against Dunfermline at the weekend and hopefully get a better result.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Steven Bell, Sean Winter (Adam Forde 82), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 72), Jamie Longworth, Andy Stirling.

Subs not used: Stephen Stirling, David MacGregor, Lloyd Kinnaird, Chris Fahey

Booked: Stirling, Gallagher, Robertson

Rangers: Cammy Bell, Richard Foster, Bilel Mohsni, Fraser Aird (Andy Little 63), Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Arnold Peralta (Robbie Crawford 76), Ian Black, Jon Daly, Steven Smith, Nicky Law. Subs not used: David Templeton, Dean Shiels, Emilson Cribari, Calum Gallagher, Steve Simonsen.

Booked: Peralta

Goals: Wallace 5, Daly 89

Attendance: 3024

Referee: E Anderson