The Rangers dressing room was doubtless a grim place to be after Ian Little’s dejected players trooped down the tunnel, but they should take consolation for giving an in-form home side a real fright. This performance was a significant improvement on Saturday’s abject capitulation to Annan, featuring excellent performances from Townsley, McLean, Notman, Gribben and debutant Stephen Tulloch, who gave a classy display at the back until a recurrent calf injury forced his withdrawal mid-way through the second half.
A sparsely-populated national stadium had all the atmosphere of a slightly damp library, and it was little wonder the match took some time before sparking into fitful life. Rangers started with Ross Gray and John Ferguson playing off Gribben as the central striker, and it was the Rangers’ maverick who threatened first, hooking an ambitious volley miles over Parry’s goal. At least it showed he had a sense of adventure. The first genuine effort on goal did’nt materialise until the 19th minute, McLean putting in a superb block on Daly’s long distance thunderbolt. A minute later, Gribben mishit Ferguson’s deft through ball when well placed, but he made full amends sixty seconds later, latching on to McDonald’s excellent long pass and forcing Parry into a diving block before guiding home the rebound from 12 yards for the 21st minute opener. The goal fired Gribben into rampaging mode and he almost caught Parry unawares with an angled drive from 22 yards.
Queens equalised in the 25th minute, courtesy of an unforced error by an unfit-looking Ross Gray, whose slack back pass was intercepted by McBride. Barclay half cleared the ball but only as far as Watt, who sent a superb lofted volley over the keeper and into the far corner of the goal. Three minutes after his equaliser, Ian Watt led the home fightback with a dipping shot, before Parry saved well from Lee Currie’s well-struck shot on the half hour mark. With the match starting to heat up, Barclay fingertipped Longworth’s 30 yard bullet over his bar. As half time hove into view, Rangers put together the best move of the half, Gribben crossing low for Ferguson to direct a clever backheeled effort goalward, only for Parry to pull off a stunning instinctive block to keep his side level at the break.
Rangers began the second period full of intent, Lee Currie banging a long-ditance free kick well wide in the 47th minute, but that early promise faded with Ferguson and Gray struggling to give Gribben the support his industry deserved. Currie and McDonald were also finding it difficult to strut their creative stuff, so it was left to the consistently excellent Stevie Notman to provide the drive Rangers needed from midfield. The prolific Longworth hammered a shot inches wide in the 57th minute, but Gribben retaliated with a low effort which Parry saved at the expense of a 59th minute corner. That moment heralded a mini-series of Rangers’ corners, culminating in Gribben’s goalbound shot being hacked off the line by Meggatt in the 63rd minute. Never one to shy away from a bold change, Ian Little withdrew Ferguson and Ross Gray for Damon Gray and McLaren, a throw of the dice which gave Rangers better pace and mobility in the final third. Gribben sent McLaren through to shoot high, wide and not very handsome fourteen minutes from the end, and that was pretty much it until the match exploded in the closing moments. First, sub Quinn headed Burn’s cross off the post two minutes from time with Barclay rooted to the spot, before David Greenhill sent another healthy away support into paroxysms of joy with what looked iike a last minute winner, coolly slotting home McLaren’s slide-rule pass to finish off a brilliant Rangers’ move. Greenhill lay buried beneath a pile of Black and Gold as Rangers celebrated, only for the ecstasy to be transformed into agony when Quinn slammed the ball through a ruck of players and past the unsighted Barclay for a last-gasp equaliser after Rangers made a complete hash of clearing their lines.
Dull moments have been thin on the ground for Rangers this season. Here’s hoping for a routine win against bottom dogs East Stirling on Saturday. And if you believe that…………
Barclay 6; McLean 7; Townsley 8; Tulloch 8; Thompson 6; Notman 8; Currie 5; McDonald 4; R Gray 4; Gribben 8; Ferguson 4
Crowd – 413