St Mirren fought valiantly but were eventually beaten comfortably by Rangers at Ibrox, losing 3-0 in Govan.
They were unfortunate to lose the first goal from a Conor McCarthy own goal before keeper Jak Alnwick did his best to stop Rangers running away with it. Alfredo Morelos got a free header to seal the win before the Colombian got a second moments later.
The Buddies were heading into this game off the back of a great 1-0 win over Livingston on the opening day. Their defensive solidity found in their brand-new backline was key to this and it would have to be even better against Rangers if Saints were to secure an unlikely result.
It was a big afternoon for Alnwick too, the stopper who joined St Mirren from Rangers in the summer. He had a few early touches as the keeper settled into the match and made a smart stop to deny Morelos just after the 11th minute.
As expected, the possession and chances early on were dominated by Rangers as Goodwin’s men looked for any rays of sunshine in attack. Alnwick was getting increasingly busier though and Joe Aribo was next to test him with a low shot. Morelos was testing next and the Buddies keeper stretched well to palm the shot behind for a corner.
Eventually though the Saints defence was beaten. Rangers were throwing plenty of shots at the goal following a set-piece, before Morelos’ ball across the box was turned in by Goldson from point-blank range. It was just reward after 25 minutes of dominance, with the goal given as a McCarthy OG in the end.
The home team continued to press on in search of a second goal. St Mirren needed a spark in attack to try and claw their way back into proceedings. James Tavernier’s audacious volley was next to test Alnwick though as the Saints keeper did his best to prevent his old side from running away from it. He got them in at half time just a goal down.
There was early promise in the second half. Gers keeper Jon McLaughlin flapped at an early cross before Jamie McGrath won a free kick right on the edge of the box. Ilkay Durmus’ effort was saved by McLaughlin but St Mirren were showing that whilst this game was sat at 1-0, it was far from over.
Rangers continued to have the lion’s share of chances as Saints remained competitive. Their backline was holding up well again and it was giving them a platform to potentially nick something as they pushed a bit higher. But a killer blow was to come.
A Tavernier corner was floated into the box, Rangers’ Colombian hitman peeling off his man and heading into the net, effectively sealing a Gers win. It was a poor goal for Saints to lose after a strong defensive display up until that point.
He would have it in the net moments later, Borna Barisic putting a tap-in on a plate for him as the Buddies defeat was sealed. Subs were made by both sides as the game eventually fizzled out.
There’s room for improvement in the St Mirren camp but there were some positives to take, especially in the first half. Here are three things we learned.
Alnwick has ended up on the losing side on his return to face old employers Rangers but Goodwin will be delighted with his new keeper. The ex-Ger made countless saves and commanded his box well. He kept scoring to a minimum and allowed Saints to have a fighting chance of points for a longer period.
The keeper certainly frustrated his former side before they eventually broke away. He is proving himself to be an able replacement for Vaclav Hladky in the Buddies goal.
Buddies’ attacking need
Goodwin said prior to this game that another forward was on his to do list before the window shuts in October.
The Buddies boss might be in no rush to get one, but it’s evident on this showing why he’s targeting another.
Jon Obika is an able frontman but there is little to turn to on the bench. Junior Morias is the only other recognised striker in the squad and with the room for five subs, another to change the fate of a game or push Obika for the starting berth is key.
Overpowered in the end
It was clear what Goodwin’s plan was for today. St Mirren would try and play where possible, but more often than not, they found themselves sitting deep and trying to hit Rangers on the break.
They never really got the opportunities required to trouble Rangers in attack but their backline held on for a fair amount of time to give them a chance. Eventually though the quality of Rangers shone through and helped the home side claim the win.