Kilmarnock huffed and puffed against Rangers but their performance wasn’t met with reward, losing 1-0 at Rugby Park.
A James Tavernier penalty had Rangers ahead inside 17 minutes as Alex Dyer’s team took a while to settle into the match. Whilst improvement was had over the 90 minutes, it wasn’t enough, as Steven Gerrard’s men grabbed three points.
Kilmarnock have been notoriously hard opponents for Rangers at Rugby Park recently, the Ibrox side winning just one of their last seven Premiership visits. But they looked determined to make sure it was two wins from eight in the opening stages.
Killie were pegged back in their own half early doors as Rangers probed for a way ahead. Tavernier was handed an opportunity from the penalty spot 17 minutes in as Ross Millen handled the ball in the box.
The light blue captain stepped up and hit a perfect penalty into the bottom right corner, despite Danny Rogers diving the right way. There was little room to breathe for Dyer’s men as Gerrard’s continued to push forward, Connor Goldson and Joe Aribo going close.
A speculative Chris Burke free-kick from range was the closest Kilmarnock got throughout the first 45. If they were to take anything from this, Dyer was going to need something special.
They had an early penalty call waved away as Aaron Tshibola went down in the box after 54 minutes whilst Nicke Kabamba had a shot saved by Allan McGregor. There were positive signs for Kilmarnock.
Rangers still posed huge threat, however, Ryan Kent denied from 10 yards out by Rogers’ legs. Rory McKenzie was next to have a go 24 minutes from time, a volley going wide of the Gers goal.
Each team had gone searching of that decisive second goal in the last 15 minutes, substitute Eammon Brophy having a great chance. His good free-kick from 20 yards out slid under the light blue wall, well stopped by McGregor.
In the end Kilmarnock couldn’t find an answer as Rangers earned a big three points. Here are three things we learned.
Killie the stumbling block
Dyer’s side have been a bogey team for Rangers on their travels in recent times. Again, despite an impressive start, Kilmarnock forced their visitors into a dogged game based on slender margins.
In the end Rangers were too much but Killie certainly made things uncomfortable for the Premiership leaders.
Grew into things
This didn’t start well for the home team, Rangers were dominant and could have had a decent lead after 20 minutes had they created more chances. Killie were on the ropes but they bounced back well.
A result wasn’t to be but Dyer will take confidence from the rest of the match. They showed form that’s had them leap into a top six position in recent times and created chances to nick a goal.
The final piece
Dyer seemed to opt for a 4-5-1 going back the way and 4-3-3 going forward as wingers Rory McKenzie and Chris Burke joined forward attacks. Its aim appeared to be limiting Rangers and striking on the break.
It did its job in defence as they frustrated the away team’s attacking outlets. But up the other end, Killie created only a couple clear chances, just missing that killer pass or shot to open their visitors up.