Scottish Premiership, Wednesday 3rd March 2021
By Mark Dingwall
It was to be a night of tedium, tension and tenacity. Rangers started with a few changes – notably Nathan Patterson in for the injured Balogun and Arfield instead of Hagi.
For most of the first 30 minutes Livingston kept Rangers contained by playing a high line that limited the chances for the forwards. They then lost forward Gavin Reilly who pulled up with a hamstring injury.
A Barasic cross for Morelos was knocked out for corner by Guthrie. From the resulting kick Helander charged into the box for a header which went over.
In the 35th minute former Hearts player Robinson, who came on as a sub for Reilly – got a touch on a cross but it went wide.
A minute later Alfredo Morelos was booked for simulation in the box – the Livi keeper, as replays showed, did make contact with him. Morelos accepted the yellow without a protest. Rangers started to look more lively with a move from Aribo and Kent setting up Arfield for a shot that went wide.
Just before the half time whistle Morelos was about to collect a high cross when Guthrie took the ball off his toes.
As the players left the field Steven Gerrard remonstrated with referee John Beaton and received two yellow cards and a seat in the stand for his troubles.
The second half started a little more brightly – it could hardly have been otherwise. In the 49th minute Conor Goldson had a goal chopped off for offside – Barasic had swung a free kick in which Goldson headed into the net before the whistle was sounded.
Rangers would put Livingston under far more pressure in the second period as was evidenced by five yellow cards for the Almondvale men to accompany Guthrie’s in the first half. Rangers would have more of the play and the pressure but much of it was ineffective against a hardworking Livi defence.
The game was briefly interrupted in the 55th minute as local Bears let off a large barrage of fireworks which saw some debris land on the pitch.
In the 75th minute one of the few clear cut chances occurred when Morelos fired in a fierce shot from the corner of the box having been put through by Aribo – who himself had collected a long pass down the right.
With ten minutes to go Morelos again came close – a Barasic corner from the left was headed on deeper into the box by Goldson where the Colombian at the far right hand post headed just wide.
Eventually, in the 87th minute, the pressure paid off – Davis played the ball to Kamara inside the box, he then held of a a defender before passing to Itten who then passed to the advancing Davis – he then fired a side footed a shot which was parried by the keeper into the path of Morelos at the back post.
RANGERS: McGregor, Patterson, Goldson, Helander, Barisic, Davis, Kamara, Arfield (Itten, 74), Kent (Zungu, 89), Aribo, Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: McLaughlin, Bassey, Simpson, Hagi, Defoe, Wright, Stewart.
LIVINGSTON: Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Serrano, Sibbald, Mullin, Pittman, Bartley, Holt (Lawson, 67), Reilly (Robinson, 23, (Tiffoney, 76)).
SUBS NOT USED: Maley, Kabia, McMillan, Ambrose, Taylor-Sinclair, Forrest.