RANGERS dropped their first Ibrox points of the season this afternoon as Morton held out for a 2-2 draw, although they maintain their three-point gap at the top of the Championship.
The home side were ahead inside the first two minutes before the visitors profited from two defensive mistakes to lead with six minutes left when the Gers levelled through Martyn Waghorn.
Fortunately for Rangers, nearest challengers Hibernian also dropped two points at home to Falkirk, but that will be little consolation to Mark Warburton’s men who were well below their best.
Prior to kick-off, Ibrox fell silent in impeccable fashion in honour of former player Arnold Peralta after he was tragically shot and killed yesterday in Honduras. It was a touching moment, and the Light Blues went on to pay tribute to the midfielder in the best possible way as they took the lead inside two minutes.
Lee Wallace charged forward down the left in his usual manner before being brutally taken out by ‘Ton full-back Connor Pepper. From the resulting free-kick, James Tavernier curled a beautiful ball into the back post where Kenny Miller arrived to nod home.
It was a tremendous start, and Rangers kept up the pressure on the visitors in the opening exchanges, playing some superb football and causing the defensive Morton setup all sorts of problems.
But for all that Mark Warburton’s men were dominating the ball, any time Morton won it they looked to break forward, and Mark Russell sprinted between the two ‘Gers central defenders before Wallace stopped him in his tracks with a superb slide tackle to prevent him from getting a shot away.
Miller has had something of a frustrating time in front of goals this season, but he came close to grabbing his second of the afternoon following an wonderful sweeping move down the left-hand side where Wallace and Barrie McKay interchanged fantastically before the former cut the ball back across the six yard line for Miller, but he could find only the arms of ex-Ger Grant Adam with his shot.
No central defender has scored for Rangers as yet this season, but Rob Kiernan was but a foot away from breaking that stat when he met a McKay corner in the middle of the six-yard box but his powerful effort went just over the bar.
All of a sudden, the slick football on show from the home side ground to a halt, and Morton grabbed themselves a shock equaliser in the most fortuitous of circumstances.
Denny Johnstone latched onto a Stefan McCluskey through ball, although as he approached the penalty area, he was forced wide by Kiernan. He did, however, manage to get a cross in where it reached Tavernier, who looked set to clear the danger.
Incredibly though, his touch badly let him down and the ball trickled beyond Wes Foderingham in the home goal to bring Jim Duffy’s men level.
Ibrox was shellshocked, and the Greenock side came close to going ahead when Johnstone fired wide from a Bobby Barr cross before Rangers raced to the other end where Martyn Waghorn found Miller unmarked at the back post, but his effort was blocked by Adam and cleared.
Into the second half, and Morton really should have gone in front when Bobby Barr received a Denny Johnstone ball over the top, but as he raced through towards Foderingham his touch let him down and the ball slipped wide of the target.
Rangers were struggling to get their game together, and nanother Morton move ended with Johnstone stinging the palms of Foderingham with a shot from the edge of the area that the Gers ‘keeper did well to get down to.
In what was becoming a breathless game, Martyn Waghorn would have hoped to do better when meeting a Tavernier cross with his head, the effort from the Englishman going over the bar, and then from a McKay corner, the ball eventually dropped to Waghorn at the back post where Adam was there to deny him.
The pressure, at long last was beginning to build, and sub Nicky Clark headed a McKay cross over, but again Foderingham had to be lively to block yet another shot from Denny Johnstone.
Time and again, the Gers’ search for an effort was in vain, and they were dealt a hammer-blow with seven minutes left as Morton took the lead through the impressive McCluskey, but again, the goal came from a poor error at the back from Rangers.
Rob Kiernan’s attempt to clear the ball rebounded off McCluskey and he got the break of the loose ball before finishing well past Foderingham.
Again, Ibrox was stunned, but the home side showed terrific character to level inside two minutes. Nathan Oduwa fed Lee Wallace down the left wing and the captain cut the ball back for Waghorn to slam the ball home and give Rangers hope of a late winner.
And that man Waghorn had the chance to make one point three points, but he headed a Tavernier corner over in the last minute of the 90, before with the last kick of the game, a superb Andy Halliday cut-back was fired over the bar from six-yards out by Jason Holt.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Ball, Kiernan, Wallace, Holt, Halliday, Zelalem (Shiels, 61), Waghorn, Miller (Clark, 61), McKay (Oduwa, 73).
SUBS NOT USED: Kelly, Wilson, Thompson,Hardie.
MORTON: Adam, Kilday, O’Ware, Miller (Lamie, 88), McKee, Forbes, Johnstone, McCluskey (Samuel, 89), Pepper, Barr (Stevenson, 90), Russell.
SUBS: Gaston, Scullion, Sabajo, Orr.
REFEREE: Mr Don Robertson