Late leveller denies lethargic Rangers 'smash and grab' win

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A late own goal from Allan McGregor denied Rangers all three points at Hamilton after the league leaders put in arguably their worst performance of the season.

Rangers were literally seconds away from securing another three points when Ronan Hughes sent in a cross for Bruce Anderson, whose header was brilliantly saved by McGregor, only for the rebound to land at Ross Callachan whose shot was going across the face of goal until it deflected off McGregor and into the net.

The draw was a blow to Rangers in their pursuit of their first league title since 2011 in what was a bad day at the office for Steven Gerrard’s men.

The Rangers manager named three changes to the side which defeated St Johnstone midweek, with Bongani Zungu, Glen Kamara and Cedric Itten coming in for Ryan Jack, Steven Davis and Kemar Roofe.

Rangers battered the Lanarkshire side 8-0 at Ibrox in November and it was widely expected that Rangers would dictate the tempo and possession in this fixture, but early on it was Hamilton who looked the livelier with Anderson having a shot at McGregor’s goal which was blocked for a corner.

Rangers first opportunity came on 14 minutes when a Hagi shot from long range went just wide.

Then Joe Aribo came close with a great run and curling effort which went inches past Fulton’s right hand post in the Hamilton goal with the keeper beaten.

A defensive mix-up then allowed Anderson with a chance which Allan McGregor had to be on his toes to save. Helander failed to control a pass from Connor Goldson, which allowed Anderson to steal possession and pull the save from Rangers keeper.

As the first-half wore on it was apparent that Rangers were struggling control the game in their usual manner and half-time provided a chance to regroup and address the lethargy.

Within seconds of the restart it looked as if that half-time chat had worked when Ryan Kent had a chance to get the opener but hit his shot into the side netting.

But this renewed desire didn’t last long and it took a series of saves from Allan McGregor to keep Rangers in the game.

First he had a tremendous double-save to deny a Scott McMann shot from the corner of the box, then quickly reacting to deny Callachan’s shot from the rebound. McGregor was then called into action again to deny Anderson.

That provoked Gerrard to introduce Ryan Jack in place of Zungu, who had yet again struggled to impose himself on proceedings.

Rangers have not conceded a goal this season when Ryan Jack has been on the park, but Bruce Anderson came close to ending that run with another attempt on goal which required McGregor to deal with. By this stage of proceedings, the Lanarkshire side had forced more saves from the veteran Rangers keeper in one game than any other side had managed this season.

Rangers then introduced Kemar Roofe for Cedric Itten.

Ryan Kent had another indifferent performance, but he should have put Rangers ahead on 73 minutes when a brilliant disguised pass from Ryan Jack put him in on goal, but the Englishman shot wide when it seemed easier to score.

McGregor was called into action again when he had to deal with a fizzing Ross Callaghan free-kick, as Rangers were forced to introduce Steven Davis for Glen Kamara.

But then Rangers took an undeserved lead on 81 minutes with an own goal from Brian Easton. Steven Davis played a great ball through to Borna Barisic, who fizzed in a low cross which deflected in off the Hamilton defender.

It was a bitter blow for the home team who had done so much more in the game than their more illustrious opponents, and it seemed like Rangers would march on to yet another win.

However, with seconds remaining, Hamilton got the equaliser they deserved thanks to Callachan deflecting his shot off McGregor – the goal coming so late into injury time that Bobby Madden couldn’t restart the game.

Steven Gerrard said after the game: “We should be happy to take the point from this game because we didn't deserve anything. I'm actually relieved to go away from this game with a point.

"We nearly won ugly, got a smash and grab, but we need to be better than that. We just weren't at the races today, there's so much for me to look through, and for me as well. Maybe I left too much quality and personality on the sidelines because we looked better when the subs came on."

The Rangers manager also revealed after the game that the club will challenge the SFA charge against striker Kemar Roofe for his challenge on Murray Davidson during the win over St Johnstone at Ibrox.


HAMILTON: Fulton, Martin, Hamilton, Easton, Hodson, Trafford, Callachan, Odoffin, McMann, Anderson, Ogkmpoe.
SUBS: Hughes, Stanger, Mimnaugh, Winter, Moyo, Munro, Gourlay, Slaven, Smith.

RANGERS: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Aribo, Zungu, Kamara, Hagi, Kent, Itten.
SUBS: McLaughlin, Bassey, Simpson, Jack, Davis, Patterson, Wright, Roofe, Balogun.

REFEREE: Bobby Madden

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