London Hearts Supporters Club

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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth ALAN POTTS auth-> Calum Murray
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16 of 019 David Obua 16L SPL A

McCoist's opening day goes off with hitch

By ALAN POTTS at Ibrox

NEW Rangers boss Ally McCoist's first competitive game in charge ended in disappointment as the champions drew 1-1 with Hearts.

After a below par first 45 minutes the boss made a tactical change which improved the performance before a Steven Naismith header in the 56th-minute spared the Ibrox sides opening day blushes.

Jim Jefferies side deserved their share of the spoils as they frustrated the champions with some good passing moves as well as some excellent closing down which the capital club hope will continue in the season ahead.

The day had started so well for the champions as new owner Craig Whyte took centre stage as he unfurled the 54th league championship flag in-front of the TV cameras as well as a near full house. The sun was beating down as both sides took to the field and some fans even arrived in shorts – although some people should really look in the mirror before leaving the house - Someone ought to have told the men from the capital that they were here just to make up the numbers in this one.

But this side are no push overs. The Jambos have added four new players this summer to improve the depth of Jefferies squad and three of them were on show with Sutton, Taouil and Grainger all given starts. Ex-Gers defender Andy Webster also shook of an injury scare to take his place at the heart of the defence as the Jambos looked to get off to a winning start.

The injury prone centre half lasted all of eight minutes before he was replaced by Adrian Mrowiec. It seems that for the last few years every time the big stopper steps on the Ibrox turf he suffers an injury or two.

New Rangers gaffer McCoist started new boy Juanma Ortiz, with ex-Hearts left back Lee Wallace, having to settle for a place on the bench. The new boy was used in an unfamiliar left wing role as the Light Blues set up in a 4-4-2 formation. You could tell that the Spaniard looked uncomfortable as time and again he struggled to shake off his marker McGowan.

The Jambos right-back had a terrific afternoon and showed great maturity which will no doubt have pleased his gaffer and assistant Billy Brown.

The visitors started the brighter of the two sides as Rangers struggled to string two passes together and the home side were punished for some sloppy defending after only 16 minutes.

As the Danny Grainger corner was floated into the box, David Obua rose unmarked to bullet his header high into the top corner as Gers goalie Allan McGregor stayed rooted to the spot.

It was a terrible piece of defending and one that Ally McCoist will surely hope won't be repeated come Tuesday night's crucial third round Champions League qualifier against Malmo.

Rangers were struggling badly at the back and Steven Whittaker in-particular was being given all sorts of trouble from David Templeton. The young winger again looked the part as time and again he left the Scotland defender trailing in his wake with some lovely touches as well as his speed of thought and movement.

The youngster could have doubled the visitors lead after he skipped away from both Bougherra and Broadfoot but could only watch as his shot smashed off the on-rushing McGregor's chest.

The Gers number one was called into action again soon after, as Templeton this time turned creator for David Obua but the utility man watched as his shot flew into the side netting.

The natives were getting restless with not only their teams performance but also the display of referee Calum Murray. The whistler didn't have his best afternoon as some dubious decisions were made. Tackles which should have produced yellows went unpunished and for a spell the game became a stop start affair as the whistler seemed to constantly halt play.

Fierce words may well have exchanged in the home dressing room as Rangers came out far more positively in the second half. Within the opening five minutes alone the Light Blues created three good chances, which was three more than in the entire first period.

The equaliser came after some determined work down the left by Sasa Papac - who saw his cross finally make it into the box at the third attempt of asking – be nodded home by Scotland forward Steven Naismith.

The sense of relief could be felt around the whole stadium but Hearts boss Jim Jefferies will be disappointed with the marking.

Few further clear cut chances were created at either end as the game seemed to become nothing more than a midfield battle.

Rangers Lee McCulloch earned his usual booking for a late lunge on pantomime villain Ian Black, who again felt the full wrath of the home support following some tough challenges on both Jelavic and Diouf last season.

Allan McGregor was called into action from a superb drive from goal scorer Obua. After a neat lay-off by John Sutton the Hearts man smashed the ball towards the top corner from 16-yards which the Scotland number one did well to tip over the cross bar and away for a corner.

At the other end Sasa Papac could have sealed the win for the Ibrox side late on but after a neat one two with Steven Naismith, the Bosnian defenders shot was easily smothered by Kello in the Hearts goal.

With that the final whistle was blown and this result got both sides off and running for the season but Jambos gaffer Jim Jefferies will be the happier after his sides gutsy display. All of his new signings impressed – Danny Grainger in particular who had a terrific afternoon – and they deserved their point.

For Ally McCoist and his side, it is a must do better on the report card, but it's one down and 37 to go and for some of the fans booing the home side was a little harsh. The Ibrox side are traditionally slow starters in the league and some fans certainly have short memories.

Man of the Match: Ryan McGowan (Hearts)

The youngster had a terrific game at right-back and nullified the threat of Ortiz. Just pips fellow full back Danny Grainger for the award.

Attendance: 49,083

Referee: Calum Murray


Rangers: McGregor, Whittaker, Bougherra, Broadfoot, Papac, Davis, Edu, McCulloch, Ortiz (Wylde 75), Naismith, Jelavic


Alexander, Wallace, Wylde, Kind Bendiksen, Fleck, Healy, Hemmings

Hearts: Kello, McGowan, Webster (Mrowiec 8), Zaliukas, Grainger, Taouil, Jonsson, Black (Stevenson 81), Templeton (Elliot 51), Obua, Sutton


Balogh, Stevenson, Mrowiec, Elliott, Novikovas, Smith, Robinson

Away End

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