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Despite lofty position, Rangers have no head for heights

Rangers cannot claim to have been caught unawares.

Rangers failed to deal with Kieran McAnespie's delivery and Ross Forsyth scored
Rangers failed to deal with Kieran McAnespie's delivery and Ross Forsyth scored

Failing to defend set-pieces has been such a recurring fault this season that the players have been walked through their responsibilities on the training ground. Yet against Stirling Albion, Rangers were vulnerable at free-kicks and corners throughout, even conceding the equalising goal from one cross into the middle of the penalty area, much to Ally McCoist's enduring frustration.

The problem exists beyond personnel, since whatever back-line McCoist has selected this season has suffered from the same issues. Rangers have been weak at clearing crosses from set-pieces, despite bringing every outfield player back to defend them. Kieran McAnespie's delivery was still allowed, though, to reach Ross Forsyth, who powered a header beyond Neil Alexander to equalise on Tuesday night.

"We do a lot of work on defending set-pieces, the manager spends a lot of time doing that and in particular from wide areas," said Lee Wallace, the Rangers full-back. "The one message before the Stirling game was not to give away cheap free-kicks but we did that on more than one occasion and that led to the goal. We've all got to take more responsibility – all of us in that line – and try and rectify it as soon as possible. We probably do need to be more aggressive in those situations.

"We've gone into a lot of detail, we watch videos of our opponents and we know they're capable. The message is getting across from the manager, but it's when we step on to the park that we all have to pull together and do a lot better. We'll look at it, have a chat among ourselves and try to put it right."

Shoring up the defence will be among McCoist's priorities once the registration embargo ends. Emilson Cribari has not shown himself to be domineering, while Ross Perry and Chris Hegarty are prone to youthful rashness. Ultimately, though, it comes down to individuals to handle the demands of their role.

"We've got what we've got just now and we've been on a good run," said Wallace. "Motivation isn't an issue because we're still buzzing in training at working at a high tempo. There isn't any talk of us being so far ahead [at the top of the league]. It wasn't to be but not because of a lack of motivation, just because we switched off at a set-piece."

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