RANGERS couldn’t find three points as they collected their fifth draw in a row at home to Alloa Athletic – it leaves Stuart McCall’s side six points behind second placed Hibs with a game in hand.
The Wasps have been the Light Blues nemesis this season, taking points off them in three out of four league games.
Alloa opened the scoring just after the break before Nicky Clark bagged a six minute brace to put the home side ahead.
But just nine minutes from time Liam Buchanan chipped over Cammy Bell to take the win from under Rangers noses.
Gers opened with intent, Dean Shiels, recalled to the team, hustling the Alloa midfield in the opening minute before Nicky Law swung a cross into the box and onto the head of his namesake Clark, who headed straight at the goalkeeper.
And the forward was denied again minutes later, turning and shooting low in the box after a delivery from the left by Lee Wallace.
There were 18 minutes on the clock when Tom Walsh curled his shot just inches above Craig McDowall’s crossbar from the edge of the box. Shiels had played him in with a cute ball after some quick play from Clark to drive the Gers attack forward.
Then a couple of moments later Shiels made space with some clever ball work, Boyd was the benefactor and had to swivel to get his shot away – which fell kindly into the hands of the Alloa stopper.
Rangers were slowly building some momentum and allowing Alloa little chances. As the half hour mark ticked by the visitors hadn’t recorded a shot on target and Bell was looking a little cold on his return to action.
At the other end 20-year-old Andy Murdoch was looking to recreate his exceptional goal against Raith Rovers and tried his luck from 25-yards out. Then Wallace attacked down the left to get to the by-line and cut a pacey ball back across goal, which Jason Marr had to stretch to clear up and over the bar.
But Rangers inroads in the first half were to be to no avail when just seven minutes after the break Alloa broke the deadlock. They whipped a free-kick in from the right flank and Ben Gordon, with relative freedom, flicked a header beyond the outstretched Bell. Alloa’s curse on the Light Blues this season looked like it had started to strike again.
Zaliukas would have been an unlikely contender to bring the sides level again but he tried his hardest – forcing a good save from McDowall from a corner in the 58th minute. But with a game to win Stuart McCall made an attacking change – hauling off the Lithuanian centre-back in favour of David Templeton and reshuffling his defence to play three across the back.
And then Jon Daly replaced the ineffectual Boyd and nearly won a penalty with his first touch after a scuffle in the box. His introduction sparked some fire and Law had a shot held as the Irishman made his presence known in the box.
The shift in attacking attitude proved effective as Clark nodded into an open goal on 71 minutes to level the scores. The forward pouncing on a shot from distance that cannoned off the crossbar and fell into his path just inches from the goal line.
The 24-year-old doubled his tally six minutes later and gave Gers the lead, again with his head. Rising to glance a header beyond McDowall after Templeton had whipped a ball into him from the left.
Shiels looked like he wanted in on the action too as he shot away from his man to launch a strike from 30-yards that McDowall had to strain to tip over.
But the next blow was to be blow was to be dealt by the visitors and Rangers lead only lasted five minutes. Alloa raced down the left touchline and Ryan McCord slipped in Buchanan, who finished with a lovely chip over Bell to make it 2-2 – just ten minutes after Clark had made it one each.
Clark had a chance to steal the win in stoppage time but was denied by McDowall who dived to save at his feet and then stop Law too.
RANGERS: Bell, McGregor, Zaliukas (Templeton 62”), McCulloch, Wallace, Walsh, Law, Murdoch, Shiels, Boyd (Daly 68”), Clark
Subs not used: Robinson, Mohsni, Black, Miller, Sinnamon
Goals: Clark (2) 71” & 77”
Yellows: McGregor 36”
ALLOA ATHLETIC: McDowall, Doyle, Meggatt, Gordon, Marr, Docherty, Cawley, McCord, Buchanan (Chopra 90”), Holmes, Tiffoney (Flannigan 60”)
Subs not used: Gibson, Rutherford, Layne, Roberts, Benedictus
Goals: Gordon 53”, Buchanan 81”
Yellows: Doyle 41”