By a Newsnet reporter
This wasn’t the start Rangers fans were hoping for as the new Rangers took to the field in their first ever league game in SFL Division 3.
Peterhead were favourites to take the division prior to the Ibrox outfit being granted a life saver of a quick entry back into Scottish league football, however the team paying SPL wages were expected to make short work of the part-timers from the north east.
Peterhead’s emblem features a fish lying next to a football, but it almost became a fish and a loaf as the Aberdeenshire team served up a near miracle to the four and a half thousand spectators and gave the Rangers the fright of their lives.
The scoreline of 2-2 will go down in history as new Rangers first ever league result, however what it won’t tell is just how close Ally McCoist’s men came to suffering even more humiliation on top of the tribulations the Govan based team have endured this last few months.
Saved by a last gasp header from late substitute Kevin Kyle which was bundled into the net, Rangers traipsed off of a lush green pitch breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The travelling fans were rowdy and confident as they crammed into the small Balmoor stadium. The Rangers team boasted players of international calibre, McCulloch, Alexander and Bocanegra lining up alongside less well known names such as Little and Black.
Peterhead’s team contained players who trained two days a week, some travelling three hours from the central belt for the pleasure.
When Rangers opened the scoring as Barrie McKay controlled and dispatched a knock down from McCulloch midway through the first half, it looked as though the game would go according to expectations.
However the goal didn’t settle the Ibrox outfit and as the game wore on Peterhead grew in confidence and created some excellent chances. Rory McAllister wasted a couple of good chances when first softly prodding the ball into Alexander’s hands after it broke to him in front of goal.
An even better chance was squandered later when the striker collected a free kick and, with the goal gaping, skewed his shot wide of Alexander’s goal.
Both should have been a wake-up call for McCoist’s team and into the second half the inevitable happened. In 64 minutes McAllister gathered the ball in the Rangers penalty area and feigned a shot with his right foot – moving onto his left he calmly swept the ball past Alexander for a dramatic equaliser.
Just prior to that, Alexander pulled off a terrific save from the same striker whose shot from outside the box looked net bound until tipped onto the crossbar by the Rangers goalkeeper.
Rangers piled forward and Francisco Sandaza should have scored when receiving the ball on the edge of the box he only had to lift it over the advancing Paul Jarvie, however he tamely prodded it into the relieved goalkeeper’s hands.
Peterhead looked to be running out of steam as they defended gallantly. In 82 minutes a brief sojourn up the park gave the Blue Toon some welcome respite in the shape of a corner kick. Ryan Strachan’s cross was unconvincingly punched away by Neil Alexander who then watched helpless as it landed at the feet of Scott McLaughlin who hammered an unstoppable left foot strike into the net.
From a goal down, Peterhead now led two-one and Rangers manager Ally McCoist looked shell-shocked as did most of the 4,485 paying fans.
With only twenty seconds of normal time remaining, substitute Kevin Kyle helped salvage a point for Rangers who looked uncomfortable throughout.
Some had suggested that Rangers Division 3 campaign might see McCoist’s men win the title without conceding a point. With one game played they have already dropped two, and were fortunate not to drop all three.