March 2, 2013
Gers battle back
#INSERT type:video subtype:lead caption: END#Rangers capped a positive week for the club off the field with a 3-1 win over East Stirling in the Third Division.
An upset could have been on the cards when Andrew Stirling fired the visitors into a half-time lead, but Rangers hit back in the second half.
Andy Little added a double to the six goals he had netted in the last four games alone, while Lee McCulloch marked his return to action with a goal.
The win followed an eventful few days for the Light Blues.
They were found guilty of non-disclosure of payments to players between 2000-2011 but avoided the ultimate sanction of being stripped of titles after an independent commission ruled that no sporting advantage was gained from the breach of Scottish Premier League rules.
Deals with Puma and Blackthorn were also announced, followed by confirmation that club legend Sandy Jardine was well enough to attend a match for the first time in months as he receives treatment for cancer.
The icing on the cake for Gers was the return of McCulloch, who had been sidelined since early January through injury.
The skipper was drafted straight into the starting line-up, playing alongside Little up-front, and replacing Dean Shiels in the side.
Rangers wasted no time in testing goalkeeper Grant Hay's resolve when Kal Naismith forced a low save in the opening two minutes of the game.
David Templeton then teed up a header for Little that he bulleted over, before the Northern Irishman glanced another header wide from an Ian Black cross to the back post.
Rangers continued to search for the opener and McCulloch unleashed a thunderous shot from the edge of the box but Hay produced a decent block, before smothering at the second attempt.
Little looked to be the biggest goal-threat and collected a Kyle Hutton cut-back only to slice inches wide of the target.
Instead, Ibrox was silenced when East Stirling opened the scoring, despite the home side's domination for large spells.
Shire netted after just three minutes on their last trip to the south side of Glasgow but had to wait until five minutes before the break to take the lead on this occasion.
Stirling exchanged a neat one-two with Paul Quinn on the edge of the box before rifling past the helpless Neil Alexander.
Rangers could have levelled moments later but McCulloch's powerful free-kick was blocked by the goalkeeper and Chris Hegarty diverted the rebound over the crossbar.
The equaliser came six minutes after the restart when Anestis Argyriou forced his way into the box, before supplying a pass for Little that required only a simple tap-in.
The stadium was rocking again on 54 minutes when fans celebrated this week's decision not to strip Rangers of any of their world record 54 titles.
McCulloch fired the Light Blues into the lead after 62 minutes when he pounced on a Templeton pass before rounding the goalkeeper and sending an angled shot into the gaping net.
Little added to his own tally a minute later when he dispatched a low shot under the body of Hay after being given too much time and space by the Shire defence.
Templeton then had the ball nestling in the back of the net but the offside flag was already raised.
The winger was denied again, this time by the woodwork, when his rebound effort smacked the post after Hay saved well from McCulloch.
|1 Neil Alexander||1 Grant Hay|
|3 Sanchez Emilson Cribari||8 Andrew Stirling|
|5 Lee Wallace||2 Nathan Shepard|
|2 .. Argiriou||4 Ricky Miller|
|10 Kyle Hutton||5 Raymond Buchanan|
|4 Christopher Hegarty||7 David Greenhill|
|8 Ian Black||6 Michael Hunter|
|11 David Templeton||3 Scott Maxwell|
|6 Lee McCulloch||10 Paul Quinn|
|7 Andrew Little||11 James Glasgow|
|9 Kal Naismith||9 Kevin Turner|
|16 Scott Gallacher||Craig Gordon 17|
|12 Sebastien Faure||Kyle Gillespie 16|
|17 Fraser Aird||Jamie Benton 15|
|15 Kane Hemmings||Phillip Zufle 12|
|14 Barry McKay||Maxwell Wright 14|
|Barry McKay for Kal Naismith (64)||Maxwell Wright for James Glasgow (64)|
|Kane Hemmings for Lee McCulloch (87)||Kyle Gillespie for Nathan Shepard (68)|
|Fraser Aird for David Templeton (90)||Phillip Zufle for Paul Quinn (76)|
|Ricky Miller (43)|
|Kyle Gillespie (70)|
|Raymond Buchanan (89)|
|· Squads: Rangers | East Stirlingshire|