Rangers set down the Law

Posted by John Gow

Rangers’ 4-0 win over Albion Rovers Sunday in the Ramsdens Cup delivered something rarely seen from supporters of the Light Blues in the last 12 months -- entertaining football. There is no reason to get carried away, but the team formation and new signings seem a lot more positive than in 2012.

With the transfer registration ban still in place until Sept. 1, there was only a choice of two new signings available as ‘trialists’, and as expected it was Jon Daly and Nicky Law. Both played well on their competitive debuts, with the Irishman Daly playing the target man in a way Rangers haven’t had for years.

He won his share of headers, but it was his link-up play from middle-to-front that really impressed. His ability to take ordinary balls with his back to goal and keep possession, turn with it or lay it off to keep the attack flowing will be seen as unimportant by some, but it is a real skill. The first and third goals came from him doing this very thing.

And if Daly’s debut was good, Nicky Law’s was fantastic. Two excellent strikes and a midfield display that would have won 'Man of the Match' without any goals, shows why the Englishman was voted into the SPL’s team of the year. Manager Ally McCoist couldn’t stop raving about the midfielder after the match:

“Nicky has been terrific for us in preseason. The energy levels he showed to get into the box for the first goal were great because he started well back and made his run from deep. The second one was from a quick corner which he moved well for and Nicky has bundles of energy which is really important in the modern game. He’s got something we maybe lacked a little bit in the middle of the park last season.”

Another who deserves a special mention is Lee Wallace. He didn’t have his best game for the Gers, but he was always looking for the ball, and his mazy runs set up two goals. The first was classic Wallace. His pace on the left outgunned the Albion Rovers defence, and his cross into the box was as good as it gets.

The other goals came from Ian Black, with a nice run on the right and clinical finish, while the best was saved for last. David Templeton, who came on as a substitute, added another wonder goal with a 25-yarder to seal the victory. When you have players like Wallace, Templeton, Daly ('A Trialist' in the box score) and Law ('B Trialist') getting it together, and the full squad is available, not many of the better Scottish sides will find Rangers easy to beat in the major cups.

Of-course, the poor opposition on Sunday has to be remembered and the Gers did not play anywhere near top-class football, but compared to previous months it is already looking like a vast improvement. There may, at last, be a foundation of a team that can go through the leagues and win the (newly named) Scottish Premiership.

That’s a long way ahead, but it is the ultimate target. Whether it is three, five or 10 years away, it will happen, but it will be longer if the club fail to build properly now. Whether through necessity or a missed opportunity last season will be looked on as survival only. The fans will be hoping that this season is the start of proper planning and Almondvale Stadium the unlikely beginning of better times.

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