RANGERS and Albion Rovers will have to do it all again after today’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter final ended in a draw at Ibrox Stadium.
Ciaran Donnelly opened the scoring for the visitors after just 13 minutes, the defender blasting the ball into the net after a corner had dropped to him six yards from goal.
For long spells it looked as though they would hold on with Rangers struggling to break down their watertight defence and beat keeper Neil Parry who was excellent between the posts.
With 13 minutes left however Bilel Mohsni used all his power and strength to get on the end of David Templeton’s deep cross and he glanced the ball in from close range.
The sense of relief around the ground was palpable as Gers fans had started to contemplate their side going out of the competition to a League Two outfit.
That would have been unthinkable but Mohsni’s deserved goal means a second game between the sides will be played a week on Tuesday to decide who goes through to the semis to meet Dundee United.
Rovers started brightly and their hopes of going in front were boosted early on when midfielder Liam Cusack’s low shot from 18 yards went wide of the post with Bell diving to his right.
Rangers however soon got into their stride with Ian Black seeing a lot of the ball and also taking a couple of heavy challenges for his efforts.
On nine minutes Templeton created the first goalscoring chance for the League One leaders. The winger’s curling delivery was met by Daly but the ball again trundled wide.
Against the run of play the visitors opened the scoring. A corner was headed back into the danger zone by Lee McCulloch and Donnelly was there to blast the ball into the net, giving Cammy Bell no hope of stopping it. The Rovers fans went wild while the Gers supporters could only sit in stunned silence.
With a lead in place Ward had to make his first change to his side with David Crawford replacing lone striker Christopher Dallas who failed to recover from a McCulloch tackle in front of the Govan Stand.
The Rangers players now had to lift themselves and the crowd and when Foster’s cross came in from the right Templeton’s dipping header landed on the roof of the net although Parry watched it closely as it went over.
On 26 minutes a free kick from Lee Wallace found Daly and his powerful downward header was saved by Rovers’ keeper at the second attempt.
At every opportunity Rangers looked to put crosses into the box but they were struggling to play their way through the nine-man wall they faced every time they attacked.
Substitute Crawford was now the only player staying up the park and the Light Blues had to find a killer pass or a moment of quality in the last third if they were to get back on level terms.
As it was a long ball up the pitch gave them their last chance of the first half. Daly nodded it down to Shiels who took a touch but Parry did well to make an excellent stop before a defender in red punted it clear.
At referee John Beaton’s half time whistle the Rangers players walked off to a chorus of boos with the Ibrox faithful frustrated at what they had seen.
They now faced their biggest test of the season and they came out fighting at the restart with Aird winning an early corner.
The winger took it and when the ball fell to McCulloch in the box he couldn’t get his left foot around it enough to curl it into the opposite corner of the net.
It was a good effort from the skipper though and it was the positive start Ally McCoist and the home support would have wanted to the second period.
On 50 minutes Daly however was then guilty of missing a snip. Another long ball was glanced on by Mohsni but when it arrived at the striker’s feet he blasted a shot wide with just the keeper to beat.
It was far better though and when Lee Wallace crossed low from the left Daly’s shot again brought out a good save from Parry before it was cleared.
The Rovers players were producing heroic defending to deny Gers a goal and at the hour mark their one-goal lead was still in place.
But with Andy Little now on Rangers kept up the pressure and when Foster crossed from the right Templeton did well to get in front of his marker but his volley clattered off the cross bar.
With time running out McCoist used his one last throw of the dice by replacing Jon Daly with Seb Faure and Mohsni moved into attack alongside Little.
It worked a treat and within five minutes Rangers got the equaliser their second half pressure deserved. Templeton’s sweeping cross was perfect for the number three who was brave as he nodded the ball in while bundling Parry into the net at the same time.
As the Rangers fans went wild so was James Ward in his technical area, the Rovers’ boss clearly believing it was a foul on their number one.
Rangers however were not worried about that as they went in search of a winner. Despite putting increasing pressure on Parry’s goal it wasn’t to be and the sides will now meet again to decide who goes through to face Dundee United in the semis.
RANGERS (4-4-2): Bell; Foster, Mohsni, McCulloch; Wallace; Aird, Black, Law, Templeton; Shiels (Little 60), Daly (Faure 74)
SUBS: Simonsen, Cribari, Smith, Crawford, Peralta
GOAL: Mohsni 77
ALBION ROVERS (4-5-1): Parry, A. Reid, R. Dunlop, M. Dunlop, Russell; McGuigan, Donnelly, Cusack (Kennedy 68), Chaplain; Phillips; Dallas (Crawford 19)
SUBS: McGinley, Walker, Innes, Flood, Tiffney
GOALS: Donnelly 13
BOOKINGS: Russell, Donnelly, Parry, Flood
REF: John Beaton