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Rangers 1 Montrose 1: Gray darkens the mood

Rangers supporters will feel as though their politeness is an indictment of their own team's failings.

Lee Wallace can't disguise his despair over Montrose's last-gasp equaliser
Lee Wallace can't disguise his despair over Montrose's last-gasp equaliser

For the second time this month, the home fans applauded opposition players off the pitch and although the gesture was heartfelt, it was also pointed. The appreciation for the efforts of the Montrose players was a contrast to the disdain for their own team's display.

The equalising goal was exceptional, but that alone was not a comfort to Rangers. David Gray's shot from 30 yards in the 90th minute bounced into the net off the underside of the bar.

There might have been no way to prevent him scoring with such a searing effort, but it was a meaningful goal because Rangers' display had been so bereft. The Ibrox side has now dropped points in six games this season.

Ally McCoist was furious throughout. Deficiencies existed in every area of his team, but most notably up front, where chances were either discarded through poor finishing or thwarted by over-elaborate play. Even if his side had held on to their 1-0 lead, the Rangers manager would have railed against this display.

"I would have booed myself," he said when reminded of the home support's grumbles at the end. "That's as angry as I've ever been since I became manager. The players better switch on quick or they'll be switched off completely. That should act as a wake-up call. That level won't be tolerated."

This game must have perplexed Montrose. The visitors would have prepared to face an onslaught, but instead found the early stages to be strangely accommodating.

It would not have entered Stuart Garden's thinking, for instance, that Scott Johnston would be granted the time and space to trouble Alexander with a shot after just two minutes.

The Montrose manager could even curse the lack of composure in the way Leighton McIntosh failed to cross after he and two team-mates ran in behind the Rangers defence.

Concern was already etched in McCoist's face, but it was evident from the opening exchanges that Rangers were intent on making this a toil. There were opportunities, but Rangers could not take advantage of them. It was typical of this level of carelessness that David Templeton headed over from close range.

Dean Shiels had already failed to convert two efforts, then John Crawford displayed a fearless streak in launching himself into a diving tackle that blocked Fran Sandaza's shot from just inside the area.

Even the goal that Rangers scored was a scrappy affair. Templeton's cross was measured, but Alan Campbell was reaching out to clear the ball when he mistakenly diverted it past his own goalkeeper on the cusp of half-time.

Montrose would have bemoaned their misfortune, but the message to the players at half-time was to retain their belief, because a single-goal lead would soon begin to feel precarious. Ian Black twice hit the post in the second half, but there was no sense of injustice to the way that Montrose earned their point.

Gary Wood and already shot over the bar, then Jamie Winter saw a well-struck free-kick held smartly by Alexander, so Gray's strike was not an isolated incident.

Even so, it was a goal of singular quality. "We rode our luck," admitted Stuart Garden, the Montrose manager. "I told David to go and make an impact and he did that. He's the type of character we need."

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