Rangers BEATEN at home by lowly Hamilton as Steven Gerrard is dealt another hammer blow having opted not to quit after loss against Hearts
- David Moyo fired Hamilton into the lead in the second half with a tidy finish
- Steven Gerrard cut a hugely frustrated figure as his side’s poor form continued
- Hosts piled on the pressure and forced corner after corner late in the game
- They had almost 30 efforts on goal but were thwarted by the lowly visitors
You wonder if Steven Gerrard might have some more thinking to do. If this is how his team responds to the end of their domestic ambitions, then the 39-year-old could be forgiven for feeling premature in so emphatically restating his commitment to Rangers.
Here was a new nadir. Just four days after Gerrard admitted hitting his lowest point with that Scottish Cup defeat at Tynecastle, those under his command twisted the knife again.
Losing at home to a team previously bottom of the Premiership – and who hadn’t won in any of their eight previous games – is pitiful even by the woeful standard of result witnessed since the winter break.
Steven Gerrard raged on the sidelines as Rangers’ poor recent run of form continued
David Moyo scored in the second half to put the underdogs ahead against Rangers
Celtic drawing at Livingston somehow only made it all the more galling. A night that could have trimmed away some of the deficit has instead seen it grow to 13 points. The cacophony of booing, from those Rangers fans who stayed to the end delivered an unmistakable verdict on the miserable group of Light Blue shirts that trudged from the pitch.
McGregor, Tavernier (Barker), Goldson, Edmundson, Barisic, Davis, Kamara (Kent), Aribo, Hagi, Morelos, Kamberi (Defoe)
Jack, Foderingham, Halliday, Katic,
Southwood, McGowan, Want, Hamilton, McMann, Gogic, Martin (Miller), Alston, Smith (Winter), Ogkmpoe, Moyo (Hunt)
McKenna, Collar, Fulton, Mimnaugh
Goals: Moyo (56)
Where Rangers go next over their ten remaining league fixtures now seems anyone’s guess. They look a team in freefall. That this same squad have excelled in the Europe remains one of 2020’s greatest sporting mysteries. All certainty and confidence seems to drain when the standard of opposition drops.
Fittingly, there was a self-inflicted nature to this latest, gruesome blow. Connor Goldson was robbed by David Moyo before he knocked the 56th minute winner into the net. As ghastly as this was for Gerrard, it was a thing of sheer beauty for opposite number Brian Rice.
His side have climbed back into 11th place – above Hearts – in the most remarkable fashion. Their defence was frequently under pressure and stretched to the limit, yet still came away with a clean sheet. There was much to admire in Accies’ resilience – and the excellence of goalkeeper Luke Southwood when needed.
It meant there was no redemption for Alfredo Morelos after his recall to the starting line-up after being axed at the weekend for a disciplinary breach. Like Rangers as a whole, the Colombian striker is struggling to recapture past dynamism.
Gerrard’s team selection was always going to be a source of fascination. Changes were inevitable. The return of Morelos always seemed likely. Ryan Kent being dropped to the bench perhaps less so.
The victory lifted Hamilton from bottom in the table to leapfrog hearts and move into 11th
Florian Kamberi, cup-tied at the weekend, stepped in for the £7 million man. Glen Kamara and Ianis Hagi were the other two players introduced.
A perceived tactical inflexibility has been one of the criticisms levelled at Gerrard, but he went into this game still retaining strong backing among the Rangers public. That was reflected with an outbreak of supporting applause around Ibrox in the eighth minute, so targeted because of the jersey number he wore in his playing days.
Not that the stadium was full, it must be said. The sharp decline of domestic ambitions led to little pockets of empty blue seats. For Rangers, the challenge was to warm those who had braved the cold.
Joe Aribo sought to raise the temperature by stepping smartly away from Jamie Hamilton – who trained with Brighton last week – only to see a thumping strike well blocked by the covering Shaun Want.
Hagi hooked inches over from the resulting corner before the Romanian followed up with a sublime piece of skill. A super-glue touch killed a dinked pass from Steven Davis and set up a poked shot that was smothered by Southwood.
The Ibrox club were frustrated on home turf against the side who came into the game bottom
There was no lack of ambition about the visitors’ strategy. Rice was as good as his word about not parking the bus, with Marios Ogkmpoe and Moyo both operating as strikers. The problem was getting them enough of the ball to prey on Rangers’ nerves. Hamilton spent most of the opening period anxiously shutting down space in their own half.
Morelos got his first real sight of goal with a header under pressure that was angled wide. He then combined with Tavenier to deliver a cross that zipped under Kamberi’s foot in a prime position.
The Hibs loanee did connect with a Kamara through-ball to draw a save from Southwood. That was more than Connor Goldson could do with a pair of free headers powered off target.
It was Kamberi, however, who had the clearest chance seven minutes before the break. Released by Morelos, the Swiss-born Albanian was repelled by another Southwood parry.
Ogkmpoe slashed a drive beyond Allan McGregor’s left-hand post as the half-time whistle loomed. When it was sounded, the response was neither dominated by booing nor appreciation. Just a rising sense of yet more frustration.
Alfredo Morelos looked off the boil again and could not provide a much-needed cutting edge
Ianis Hagi was denied by the goalkeeper and Rangers failed to capitalise on their chances
You know where things stand when news of Livingston taking an early second-half lead against Livingston raised barely a murmur in the stands. Rangers fans were more focused on the failings of their own team.
Barisic sought to amend that view by setting up two pristine chances in the space of two minutes. His first, deep cross found Morelos at the far for a looping header that hit the bar. What followed was more painful to witness.
Another piercing delivery from the Croatian was somehow allowed to reach Tavernier on the edge of the six-yard box. It looked a certain goal but the Ibrox skipper lost both his footing and bearings to balloon over. He looked utterly anguished. But that feeling would soon deepen further. And now.
Ogkmpoe served warning to Gerrard’s backline with a powerful header from a Lewis Smith cross that McGregor tipped onto the bar. But the alarm wasn’t heeded. What happened next was a defensive disaster.
George Edmundson looked exasperated at his team’s display on an unhappy night at Ibrox
Tavernier appeared to leave responsibility for clearing lines to Goldson, who dwelt on the ball and was robbed by Moyo as he attempted to turn on the edge of his own area. The Zimbabwean’s shot trickled beyond McGregor and inside his left-hand post.
Ibrox was stunned. Then furious. Gerrard sought to engineer a response by replacing Kamara with Kent, then Kamberi with Jermain Defoe. Finally, the injured Tavernier made way for Brandon Barker as the ground reverberated with ever-louder anger.
Rangers sought to lay siege but Accies protected the advantage with their lives. Hagi saw a stabbed attempt blocked by Southwood before the impressive keeper stuck out a boot to deny a well-struck drive from Morelos.
Then a deflected Hagi pop from distance bounced off the top of the bar. When Steven Davis then blazed too high from close range in stoppage time, the game was up. McGregor even had to deny Ogkmpoe on the break as Accies sought to tip salt upon gaping wounds.
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