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Redemption for visitors after comedy of errors . . .

The Stenhousemuir players lingered, and the Rangers players sought to escape.

Stenhousemuir's Sean Dickson opens the scoring for his side at Ibrox on Saturday. Picture: PA
Stenhousemuir's Sean Dickson opens the scoring for his side at Ibrox on Saturday. Picture: PA

That scene on the pitch after the final whistle, as the home crowd applauded the visitors, said enough about the way this game unfolded. It was littered with errors, rash decisions, mortifying contributions, but also tenacity and industry, at least from the Stenhousemuir players. This was a team that lost 8-0 on its last visit to Ibrox, but found pride and satisfaction from a moment of redemption.

Where to begin? Perhaps in the selflessness and conviction of Sean Higgins, who scored twice and left Emilson Cribari and Lee McCulloch in a state of anxiety despite playing up front on his own. The two centre-backs were culpable themselves, though, since neither performed with a sense of security and purpose, with Emilson in particular playing as if in a constant state of alarm.

David Rowson and Bryan Hodge were tidy in the visitors' midfield, while at the back Stewart Greacan and Ross McMillan coped well with a cumbersome Jon Daly. "We were excellent and kept a good shape," said Greacan, as though the basics alone were enough to confound Rangers.

The big centre-back was strong and forceful throughout. If there was a typical performance from Rangers, it was David Templeton's. He was full of endeavour, but it seldom led to anything worthwhile. In the first half, he missed an open goal from five yards and was brought down in the penalty area by Sean Lynch, only to then be booked for diving by the referee, Greg Aitken. That was unfair on Templeton, but he ought to have defended better for two of the Stenhousemuir goals, which came from crosses that he could have blocked.

"I went through on goal and he clipped me, so it was a penalty," Templeton insisted. "He even said so himself. I'm just bewildered by the fact I've been booked for it. When I heard the whistle I thought it was a definite penalty because I felt the contact. I was in on goal so there was no reason to go down.

"I just really want to go home and cry about [the chance he missed]. It was an open goal and I was thinking I would tap it in. I don't know if it bobbled, but I somehow managed to put it by the post. It is the worst miss I have ever had in my life."

Rangers were out of sorts. Ian Black was at least diligent enough to keep showing for the ball, and some of his touches were refined, but Nicky Law was a bystander apart from the equaliser he scored in the first half. Templeton touched the ball into his path and the midfielder curled a shot beyond Graeme Smith to cancel out Sean Dickson' s opener, which came when he chested the ball down and shot beyond Cammy Bell.

Stenhousemuir - managed by a group of coaches led by Brown Ferguson before Scott Booth takes charge next month - could sense vulnerability in Rangers. Having taken the lead once, they approached the second half in the same determined manner and took the lead again. It was a similar goal, coming from a cross from the right that Higgins headed past Bell, and the tension from the Ibrox crowd was uplifting for the visitors.

"If you can manage to get in front or keep it at 0-0 then the crowd tend to get edgy," said Greacan. "Over the last few weeks, we have been playing quite well but not been getting the victories we have been wanting. Their fans getting on their backs does make a difference. That is what you kind of hope for when you come to Ibrox.

"It certainly settles the players and the crowd when they go in front, as it then becomes a harder task. But that is what happens and is the pressure of being at Rangers - they expect that."

Just as Rangers had a grievance about not being awarded a penalty, Stenhousemuir could rue the bad luck of Fraser Aird's shot deflecting off McMillan for the second equaliser, and also that they felt a corner was wrongly awarded before Daly headed Aird's delivery past Smith to put Rangers in front. The visitors' equaliser came when Emilson was judged to have tugged Rowson's shirt at a corner kick, and Higgins calmly converted the spot kick.

"We should be beating Stenhousemuir but we just weren't good enough on the day," said Templeton. "The three goals we conceded were really poor and for the first two, I've got to defend better. But it is something we will work on and make sure it doesn't happen again."

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Football

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