SPFL League One: RANGERS 2 DUNFERMLINE 0: Date 15/03/14
For the third trip to Ibrox of season 2013-2014, Dunfermline brought in Alex Whittle in place of Shaun Byrne. Otherwise it was the same personnel as the previous Saturday against Stenhousemuir. The Pars team contained a little more experience than they had been able to in the Scottish Cup match at Ibrox just over a month ago.
The new crowned League One champions made five changes fielding players who have warmed the bench of late with Sebastien Faure, Steven Smith, Arnold Peralta, Nicky Clark and Robbie Crawford starting, Nicky Law, David Templeton, Lee Wallace, Jon Daly and Andrew Little making way for them. Pre match much of the attention was on the presence of potential backer Dave King in the stand.
The Rangers team emerged through an avenue of flags proclaiming the SPFL League One champions 2013-2014 and the Pars players sportingly formed a guard of honour in front of that. The teams changed ends before the 12.45pm kick off and it was the home side who kicked off. Within 90 seconds Clark had an opportunity but he sent his header narrrowly over the bar.
Callum Morris then gave his team a scare with a rather firm pass back that almost caught out the advancing Ryan Scully. Anyhow a corner was the best Rangers could achieve and the shot that resulted from that went wide left. Scully however went down injured and after three minutes of physio Kenny Murray trying to make good, the keeper hobbled off to be replaced by Ryan Goodfellow. Prior to this match Ryan had only 40 minutes experience of first team football but with Scully's diagnosis a dislocated toe then the 20 year old might see many more.
In ninth minute a setpiece on the right touchline was sent right in to the far post by Danny Grainger and Morris got up to power a header that just cleared the home crossbar. Three minutes later a Ross Forbes cross from the left side ran invitingly into the penalty box but just too far away from Lawrence Shankland for him to take.
The Fifers continued to go forward and were unlucky when Cammy Bell cleared straight out to Forbes but Peralta thwarted his attempt. In 17th minute Stephen Husband got the first Pars shot on target but Bell dropped to his right to hold. Husband was then caught late midway and went down in a heap but Grainger almost to even things up, was heavily into his challlenge on Clark and it was the Pars player who was shown the first yellow card of the day.
Two minutes later Alex Whittle created a break on the right that took him into the opposition box but when the chance developed Shankland rattled a shot at goal that Mohsni blocked and Bell gathered. At the other end Whittle was deemed to handle the ball and was shown yellow. Steven Smith sent the Rangers free kick into the box but the danger came at the other end as Faissal El Bakhtaoui burst forward.
Persued by three opponents the French Morrocan was eventually fouled and the Pars were awarded a free kick in a central position. From that Forbes drive was stopped by Foster in the Rangers wall but he was also shown yellow for his hand being up to stop the shot. Another free kick this time 20 yards out saw Husband and Forbes line up to take it but it was the latter who tried and the effort went just outside the right post.
Injured Whittle was forced to retire in 28 minutes and Shaun Byrne became the second sub used by Dunfermline. Shankland's left footed shot rolled wide right before in 34 minutes Rangers had their best chance of the game so far. Smith sent over a fine ball from the left that Goodfellow punched away before Clark could reach the cross.
Next Grainger got in behind Crawford but his cross was deflected back for a corner that home side dealt with that. Another corner on the left followed five minutes before half time but Geggan's header on Millen's delivery was not to threaten the scoreline. Peralta's challenge on Husband required the physio's attention again.
There was an appeal for a Dunfermline penalty in 44 minutes and television evidence suggested that referee Kevin Clancy was possibly wrong to ignore it. Instead the player caught, Ross Forbes was shown a yellow card.
The game was in the fourth minute of added time for the first half injuries when Rangers went ahead from a cracking SMITH free kick from 28 yards. Geggan had conceded the setpiece for his challenge on Peralta but there was absolutely nothing he or the team's defensive effort could do to prevent the ball nestling in the top right corner. 1-0
A bit cruel on the Fifers to go in behind at the break. They had matched Rangers efforts and were actually ahead on attempts on goal.
Half time: Rangers 1 Dunfermline 0
Emilson Cribari replaced Mohsni for the second 45 and it was a slip up from the sub that allowed Shankland to feed El Bakhtaoui for the Pars first post break attempt at goal. El Bakhtaoui was then lacking height to reach a Husband cross from the right. Rangers enjoyed a little more of the possession but Husband did get in a long range shot that sailed wide left.
The Pars did well to reclaim the upper hand with a good spell for them. Fine close control from Byrne earned a free kick on the right as Black chose not to accept it. Forbes floated in the cross but Bell punched clear. Next a Grainger throw in on the far side had Byrne stretching to execute a header on target but the home side cleared again.
Two Aird corners in 64th minute were successfully defended but with a bit of a scramble eventually. Aird caused more bother a couple of minutes later but Page stopped that when the delivery came in from the left. Rangers spread the ball out and took delight from teasing Dunfermline with completed passes.
Clearly Jim Jefferies was frustrated by all of this and he played his final card on 72 minutes replacing El Bakhtaoui with Allan Smith. The final Pars sub was involved right away cutting the ball back for Shankland but the ball travelled on to Husband who had a chance to shoot but not enough to trouble Bell.
Things then were made even tougher for the Pars as Grainger collected a second yellow card with eleven minutes left. From the free kick on the right corner of the penalty box Black sent in a dangerous ball that was scrambled away. Black also had a shot that was prevented from reaching Goodfellow by a headed interception.
The Pars came forward and were a bit unlucky to have Shankland blown up for offside. A Black foul on Forbes handed him a 35 yard free kick that was cleared back out to him. Forbes squared to Millen and then to Husband who sent a high ball into the Rangers six yard box where Geggan tried a knock down that Page almost hooked into the Rangers goal.
As the minutes ran out the Fifers barely appeared to be suffering from the one man disadvantage and had a good go for the equaliser. Smith's powerful run in from the left nearly doing the business in 89.
Inevitably Rangers were to break and in the 91st minute get a goal that made their win more convincing. It was Black who threatened to shoot but the young sub Callum GALLAGHER was picked out on the overlap. The goal on his Rangers debut drilled the ball past the helpless Goodfellow.
RANGERS: Cammy Bell; Richard Foster, Sebastien Faure, Bilel Mohsni (Emilson Cribari HT), Steven Smith (Callum Gallagher 74); Robbie Crawford, Arnold Peralta, Ian Black, Fraser Aird; Lee McCulloch (c) (Kyle Hutton 59), Nicky Clark.
SUBS NOT USED: Dean Shiels, Jon Daly, Lee Wallace, Steve Simonsen (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Mohsni (8), Foster (27), McCulloch (44)
SCORERS: Smith (45+4), Gallagher (91)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully (Ryan Goodfellow 5); Ross Millen, Jonathan Page, Callum Morris, Danny Grainger; Alex Whittle (Shaun Byrne 28), Andy Geggan (c), Stephen Husband, Ross Forbes; Lawrence Shankland, Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Allan Smith 72).
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Ryan Williamson, Josh Falkingham, Ryan Thomson.
YELLOW CARD: Grainger (19), Whittle (25), Forbes (44)
RED CARD: Grainger (79)
REFEREE: Kevin Clancy
WEATHER: Overcast, windy 10C
NEXT MATCH: (home) SPFL League One v East Fife
Saturday 22nd March 2014, kick off 3.00pm