A dramatic injury-time goal from Nicky Law earned Rangers a point at Ibrox Stadium against Falkirk but the result means the Light Blues drop to third in the Championship table with just one game remaining.
In what proved to be a pulsating second half this season’s Scottish Cup finalists were two-goals up through John Baird and Tom Taiwo with the Bairns players finding the net in the 57th and 61st minutes respectively.
At that stage it looked as though Rangers were going to suffer their eight defeat in the second tier this season but they showed great spirit and determination to battle back with Haris Vuckic heading home a corner with nine minutes remaining.
Towards the end it was one-way traffic towards Falkirk’s goal and in the end Stuart McCall’s players got their reward for their graft and persistence with Law producing a composed finish right at the death to make the score 2-2.
The Gers boss made just one change to his side for this afternoon’s clash with Kenny Miller starting ahead of Nick Clark who was listed on the bench and the game started with the sun shining down on the Ibrox turf.
In the second minute supporters rose to their feet to observe a minute’s applause for Sandy Jardine with yesterday being the one-year anniversary of his death. They were off their seats again not long after that when Marius Zaliukas blazed a shot over the bar after the ball fell to him from a corner kick.
The big Lithuanian is enjoying a good run in the starting eleven and his confidence was evident when he used quick feet to shimmy between two midfielders. He then slipped an intelligent pass to Ryan Hardie who pulled the trigger but Jamie MacDonald used his legs to block the youngster’s shot.
Rangers were certainly creating the better chances in the early stages and on 18 minutes a deflected effort from Tom Walsh landed on the roof of the net in front of the Broomloan Stand.
Falkirk then pushed forward with intent and Cammy Bell was called into action for the first time. Luke Leahy’s driven low cross from the left was hit first time by Baird and the Gers number one had to be sharp to palm the ball over the bar.
After a positive start to the game a bit of slackness began to creep into Rangers’ play and before the half hour mark a back pass from McGregor to Bell was intercepted by Baird who rounded the keeper but the angle was too tight for him to shoot.
He cut back inside and when the ball was eventually played into the path of Will Vaulks skipper Lee McCulloch had to make a brave block after the Bairns midfielder let fly from 20 yards.
The latter stages of the half were frustrating for both teams as the game went rather flat with neither keeper really tested. With two minutes remaining, however, a good pass out wide from Zaliukas allowed Wallace to burst forward but when he crossed there were no takers which allowed Falkirk to clear.
With Hibs 2-0 up against Alloa at Easter Road at half time Rangers knew they would have to beat Falkirk in the second half or they would drop to third in the Championship table.
Stuart McCall was forced to make his first change to his side during the break with Robbie Crawford replacing Zaliukas who appeared to pick up a knock in the first period. As a result Darren McGregor shifted inside to join McCulloch in the centre of defence with Crawford taking up the right back berth.
Rangers immediately put the Bairns’ backline under pressure following the restart with Wallace again making a trademark run and his powerful cross flew across the six yard box before being booted away nervously by a Falkirk defender.
But while Rangers kept pressing and trying to find a way to break the deadlock it was Peter Houston’s men who got their noses in front with 57 minutes played.
A corner was fired into the danger area and Baird reacted quickest when it dropped to prod a clever finish beyond Bell.
Four minutes later it got worse for the Light Blues when Falkirk doubled their advantage with a swift attack.
Baird turned provider after he spun past McCulloch just inside Rangers’ half and he darted unchallenged down the left wing. He looked up and slid a perfect pass to Taiwo who drilled a low shot into the net, giving Bell no chance.
McCall made two further changes as the clock ticked down with Dean Shiels immediately replacing Miller after the second goal before Nicky Clark went on for Hardie.
Rangers kept pushing forward in the latter stages of the match and Walsh came close to pulling one back when he clipped the far post with a right foot curler. Jamie MacDonald then made a fine one-handed stop to deny Darren McGregor who rose to meet a corner.
With eight minutes remaining Vuckic headed in a corner himself to provide a bit of hope for the Ibrox faithful and this set up a dramatic climax to this topsy-turvy encounter.
With referee Euan Anderson looking at his watch MacDonald then made the save of the game to tip Lee McCulloch’s header over the bar and from the resulting corner a Clark’s header was cleared off the line.
From there the ball dropped to Law in space and he steered it calmly into the corner of the net to give his side a deserved point. Rangers will now take on Hearts at Tynecastle in seven days in the club’s final Championship game while second place Hibs face today’s visitors Falkirk’s at Westfield.
RANGERS (4-4-2): Bell; McGregor, Zaliukas (Crawford 46), McCulloch, Wallace; Walsh, Murdoch, Law, Vuckic; Miller (Shiels 62), Hardie (Clark 66)
SUBS: Robinson, Mohsni, Hutton, Gallagher
GOALS: Vuckic 81, Law 90
FALKIRK (4-5-1): MacDonald; Muirhead, McCracken, Grant, Leahy; Alston, Taiwo, Vaulks, Kerr, Sibbald (Dick 84); Baird (Biabi 80)
SUBS: Bowman, Cooper, Smith, Maybury,Morgan
GOALS: Baird 57, Taiwo 61