RANGERS were left counting the cost of yet more injury problems as they eased their way into the fourth round of the Tennent’s Scottish Cup as both Ronald de Boer and Jorg Albertz were added to an already lengthy list.
Both players were forced to limp from the field in the first half which certainly does no augur well for the crucial schedule of games coming up, including the Old Firm double header.
The game was won with goals from Allan Johnston and Kenny Miller, but the problems suffered by de Boer and Albertz were what dominated proceedings on a very flat afternoon at Ibrox.
De Boer has had knee problems virtually since signing from Barcelona in September and he only lasted 10 minutes of this cup tie.
The Dutch star seemed to do the damage after just three minutes when he tried to connect with an Allan Johnston cross. He had some treatment and continued but it became clear the match was over for him.
Barry Ferguson, Claudio Reyna and Albertz are all suspended for the Dons game while Ferguson and Reyna also sit out the pay per view game with Dunfermline next Saturday so Advocaat will be desperately hoping that de Boer’s injury is not serious.
Albertz suffered his troubles when creating the second Rangers goal in 38 minutes. Greig Smith caught him on his left leg after the German had squared the ball and, worringly, he had to be helped to the dressing room.
With Lorenzo Amoruso, Neil McCann and Tore Andre Flo struggling with injuries and Craig Moore and Giovanni van Bronckhorst not back to fitness yet, Rangers can ill-afford more problems.
It soured an already quiet afternoon in front of the lowest crowd of the season as Rangers simply got the job done against Brechin without any real sparkle.
Those who travelled to Ibrox anticipating a ritual slaughter of the Third Division upstarts were in for a rude awakening as Brechin showed they were completely unfazed by Rangers’ stature and reputation.
There was purpose and confidence about Dick Campbell’s part-timers, who caused some major concern in the Rangers penalty area in the early moments and gave keeper Stefan Klos a lot more to do than he anticipated.
The German star had to make a point-blank block on Dougie Coulston’s shot after just five minutes and was not best pleased that he had been forced into that situation.
It was a moment to savour for the 3,000 City supporters who had made the exodus from the small Angus town to watch their heroes on the big stage. However, within five minutes they watched Derek Soutar lose his first goal of the afternoon.
It was the skipper Ferguson who created it with a measured pass for Johnston, who had burst into the box and placed a low right foot shot into the right corner.
Many fans felt it would signal the opening of the floodgates, but that was far from the case. Brechin were unlucky not to equalise when Lee Bailey’s shot hit the top of the net in 16 minutes and then Roddy Grant had a shot cleared off the line by Tony Vidmar.
Albertz’s square pass to Kenny Miller in 38 minutes appeased the grumbles as Miller swept Rangers into a two-goal lead having hit the left hand post a minute earlier.
However, the lack of atmosphere in the stadium was reflected by the lack or urgency in Rangers’ play. Sure. Rangers had all the play but they struggled to add to their tally.
Bert Konterman hit the bar with a header in 68 minute from Tugay’s corner while Fernando Ricksen forced a good block from Souter and Mols came close with a couple of efforts.
That was about the extent of it and Brechin can feel proud of their contribution in what was a once in a lifetime chance for many of their players.
RANGERS: Kios; Ricksen, Konterman, Vidmar, Numan; Johnston, Reyna (Wallace 69), Ferguson, Albertz (Tugay 41); Miller, de Boer (Mols 10). Subs not used – Brown, Porrini.
BRECHIN CITY: Souter; G. Smith, Cairney, Raynes, Coulston (Sturrock 79); D. Smith (Campbell 79), Reilly, Bain, Black (Donachie 70); Bailey, Grant. Subs not used – Nairn, Parkyn.
Referee: David Somers.
Man of the Match: Harry Cairney (Brechin)
Moment of the Match: The passing move between Tugay and Ferguson culminating in Miller’s shot which hit the post in 37 minutes.