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McCoist: we've had to toughen up for the Third Division

After watching his side overcome battling Peterhead 1-0, Rangers boss Ally McCoist admitted his men have had to toughen up as they have adapted to life in the Third Division of Scottish Football.

Rangers were given a tough baptism in the lowest league - their maiden fixture was a 2-2 draw with Peterhead - but they have found a way to get better as the season has gone on, with Fran Sandaza getting them home today.

And former Scotland striker McCoist said: "One of the most important factors in the game was how our centre-halves handled the aggression of Rory McAllister and, when he came on, Martin Bavidge. If they don't fancy it, we're bang in trouble."

Peterhead had five players booked, with McAllister sent off when he picked up a second booking for handball midway through the second half, and Rangers midfielder Ian Black in particular came in for some harsh treatment.

He collided with a hoarding following a typically robust Dean Cowie challenge, and McCoist joked: "Ian's all right, but I think the hoarding will be out for three weeks!

"I think the physicality has been taken out of the game too much, so I'm not going to be hypocritical and complain about some of the tough tackling our players receive. We're all big boys, so let's get on with it.

"I think after the first game of the season, the guys had to toughen up. They're certainly handling it better and the results we've had recently are based on a solidity and resilience, especially defensively."

Peterhead boss Jim McInally was upbeat despite seeing McAllister sent off and his side subsequently beaten.

He said: "I was disappointed we didn't finish the game with eleven men. I substituted Ryan McCann to save him from getting sent off and within five minutes we're down to 10 men.

"Losing Rory was a massive loss to us at that stage of the game. I think it happens a lot where there are wee handballs and the referee turns a blind eye to it.

"Thankfully, Rangers missed a couple of sitters which kept us going, and the players worked their socks off.

"I thought our attitude was brilliant and our workrate was great. We started really well, and finished strongly as well, considering we're a part-time team. If the players continue to work like that, they'll do all right."

Particularly impressive for Peterhead was David Cox, who worked tirelessly in the midfield, and McInally added: "He's a good player. He was knackered by the end because he puts his heart and soul into the game.

"I tried to get him here in the summer, but he went to Alloa instead, so I'm just glad to have him now."

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