St Mirren couldn’t make lightning strike twice in Paisley as Rangers emerged 2-0 winners against the Buddies.
Despite a good opening period of the match from the home team, Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos goals had Rangers in control at half-time. The second 45 brought few chances for Saints as no rewards were handed out for their energetic performance.
Jim Goodwin’s men had no reason to fear this one, having beaten Rangers in the League Cup earlier this month. But they were still well aware this would be an enormous task once more.
The same plan and XI used in the 3-2 League Cup win were used as St Mirren started brightly with plenty of possession. They perhaps should have been ahead 13 minutes in, Dylan Connolly’s effort spilled by Allan McGregor, but Jon Obika couldn’t put home the rebound.
Roofe punished them for this 14 minutes later. The Rangers man found his way behind the Buddies defence before his strike on goal was deflected past Jak Alnwick. Six minutes on and it was 2-0.
A routine passing move turned into a nightmare for Goodwin, as a loose ball was latched onto by Morelos, the Colombian striker scoring his first goal in eight games as Rangers headed into the break with a comfortable advantage.
They might have won 3-2 last time but coming back from 2-0 down was going to be a big ask against a formidable Gers team for St Mirren.
The visitors had a chance to finish things nine minutes into the second half but Ianis Hagi hesitated in pulling the trigger just a few yards from goal.
Saints were pressing too but nothing concrete was happening in front of goal, Connolly’s pace causing a few problems for the away side. Roofe almost added a second for himself up the other end with a lovely flick, eventually cleared off the line.
Hagi would go close again before full-time and St Mirren piled on stoppage time pressure but the two first half goals were all that Rangers needed to beat St Mirren in Paisley at the second time of asking. Here are three things we learned.
Too much to ask?
It’s hard enough for clubs in Scotland to beat either of Celtic and Rangers with such financial differences. To do it once in a season is a special achievement, it’s extremely rare to find it achieved twice in the same month.
That’s the challenge Goodwin and his players were presented but unfortunately it was a step too far. Their performance on the day was by no means a bad one, but Rangers’ quality eventually got the better of them.
St Mirren’s boss will be disappointed with how his goals were conceded on home soil. The first was an unfortunate deflection, that while Roofe’s shot may have beaten Alnwick anyway, an extra touch took it away from him completely.
The second was a rare lapse in concentration from the backline. Goodwin urged his side to remain concentrated pre-match but a brief lapse was all Rangers needed to pounce.
Big run awaits
It’s easy to say that such matches won’t define St Mirren’s season but that won’t lessen the taste of defeat. That said, the next seven Buddies fixtures are the ones where victories are needed most.
St Mirren have been in good form overall heading into the New Year and of their next seven matches, only one is against a team from the top four, Hibs at home. Throw in a League Cup semi-final and the next four weeks begin to look massive for Goodwin’s team.
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