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Plenty of huff and puff as Rangers pull out of the Station for final time

Awkward and sometimes fierce moments had to be endured, but Rangers still found the means to prevail.

Bilel Mohsni produces a rare moment of quality to give Rangers the lead on a difficult night at Station Park. Picture: SNS
Bilel Mohsni produces a rare moment of quality to give Rangers the lead on a difficult night at Station Park. Picture: SNS

There was quality in the goals they scored, and a brilliant save by Steve Simonsen to prevent an equaliser, but they were only occasional instances in a game that was generally a toil for the visitors. Having found Station Park a difficult venue three times this season, Ally McCoist's side will be relieved to have no more assignments there this season.

Amid concerns about what the financial future might mean for Rangers, the supporters could at least indulge in some nostalgia here. Kenny Miller and Kris Boyd, a strike force from a different age, were part of the television summarising team and broadcast from on the pitch before kick -off and at half-time.

How Rangers would have benefitted from Miller's pace and movement in the opening half when their display was particularly blunt and often futile.

There were adjustments to the team, since Ian Black and Arnold Peralta were suspended, and the defender, Sebastien Faure, took up a position in central midfield. The gameplan might have been to allow Nicky Law and Dean Shiels to play higher up the pitch and support Jon Daly, but much of Rangers' attacking play lacked coherence.

There were plenty of heavy touches and misplaced passes so that no momentum or dynamism could be established, especially since Fraser Aird and Lewis Macleod were making little headway on either flank.

Neither side was capable of any rhythm, with the play being disrupted by niggly fouls. There was an air of aggression and few challenges involved any leeway. Bookings were accumulated by both teams, at the expense of any composure.

Forfar are a physically commanding side, and at set plays they carried an urgent threat. Simonsen was making his debut in goal for Rangers, since Cammy Bell's partner gave birth to the couple's first baby, a daughter, earlier in the day.

The former Everton and Stoke City goalkeeper would have been relieved to see Stuart Maclom's header brush off the face of the crossbar early on but there was only a Gavin Swankie volley later in the first-half for him to then deal with.

Rangers were under little direct pressure' but they were limited to half chances themselves. Frustration grew and Lee Wallace claimed for a penalty after cutting inside Darren Dods and tumbling over. It would have been a harsh spot kick to award, but Rangers felt more aggrieved after the interval, when Bilel. Mohsni was clearly pushed over as he attempted a header, then Dods handled the ball as he blocked a Daly shot. The ball ran to Fraser Aird after the latter incident and his shot was deflected over.

By that stage, midway through the second half, it was only Rangers who were threatening, but the opportunities tended to be untidy or cobbled together.

Their most promising moment in the first half came when Bilel Mohsni had an impulse to stay upfield after an attack. When the ball was returned upfield, he sent it out to Aird, whose shot was blocked, and Mohsni tried frantically to turn the rebound into the net, but couldn't get it out from under his feet. He was more decisive after the interval, after Aird delivered a well-struck corner kick and Mohsni beat his marker to the ball to send a header past Robert Douglas, the Forfar goalkeeper, and in off the post.

He celebrated enthusiastically, but then the goal must have come as a relief to the visitors - they had been on top, but it was a sometimes fierce and often frustrating encounter for Rangers. Before the goal, it had taken a free kick for them to truly alarm Douglas, when Lee McCulloch struck a ferocious effort from 25 yards that was deflected on to the crossbar.

After eventually taking the lead, Rangers' instinct was to protect their advantage. That made sense when the breakthrough had been so hard-flight to gain, although Aird and the substitute David Templeton still offered a threat with their pace and directness out wide. Even still, there were moments to endure. Having essentially been a spectator, Simonsen suddenly became prominent.

His impact came late in the game, though. With Rangers protecting a lead, he leapt through the air to tip the ball wide after Mohsni's header cannoned off Wallace and spun towards the top corner. Minutes later, he would have breathed a sigh of relief, though, as Dale Hilson's free-kick from 20 yards flew past the upright.

There was still tension to be borne for the visitors when the scoreline was so close but Rangers managed another decisive intervention. It came from Templeton, who carried the ball in off the left flank and lashed a shot beyond Douglas's reach and into the top corner.

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Football

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