RANGERS have their first Scottish Premiership win in four years after a hard-fought win over Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon.
After what was at times a highly impressive first-half from Mark Warburton’s side, the second half was less-so, but they held-out for an oh-so important and deserved victory.
The opening to the game was scrappy to say the least, with both sides struggling to put any period of passing together, although Rangers soon got their act in gear, with their regular game soon flowing on the lush Dundonian turf.
Harry Forrester has been the man in form for Rangers in the last few games, and it was he who broke the deadlock with just 14 minutes on the clock with a superb acrobatic effort.
Barrie McKay did well to control a loose ball inside the area, and he hooked it into the six-yard box where Forrester was lurking. With his back to goal, he held off the Dundee defence superbly and flicked a beautiful effort over his shoulder and beyond the reach of Scott Bain in the home goal.
Indeed, he may have done better five minutes later when he picked up a Lee Wallace cross down from the left on the edge of the area, but with the home defence parted he could only find the stand rather than the back of Bain’s net.
The Englishman was enjoying an excellent match, and again, he could have been on the scoresheet with a back-post header from a James Tavernier cross which he nodded over the bar.
Forrester was then involved in winning a free-kick for Rangers 25-yards from the centre of the goal as Darren O’Dea tripped him off the ball, a foul for which the former Celtic man saw yellow, but Joey Barton’s resulting free-kick came off the top of the wall.
While the chances weren’t exactly plentiful for Rangers, their general play was a joy to watch, taking almost exclusive ownership of the ball before grabbing a deserved second goal seven minutes before half time.
An exquisite Barrie McKay ball over the Dundee defence found the rampaging Wallace who cut the ball back for Kenny Miller to smash home his first of the season from 12-yards out.
It was a great moment for the 36-yard old, but in truth, he should have made it three minutes later with an even easier chance as he was sent one-on-one with Bain but as he tried to round the Scotland goalkeeper he dived in at the striker’s feet and managed to recover the ball.
Rangers advantage was to be cut in half though in the final minute of normal time at the end of the first-half however with Mark O’Hara getting up above the Rangers defence to nod home a Paul McGowan corner completely against the run of play.
It was a massive and undeserved shock for the Gers, but one that was completely avoidable. That said, they almost re-extended their advantage to two in injury time as McKay did incredibly well to evade countless challenges in the box to get to the by-line and cut the ball back for Miller inside the six-yard box, but Julen Extabeguren was there to clear his goalbound effort off the line.
Subsequently, his clearance was picked up by Jordan Rossiter who was unceremoniously cleaned out on the edge of the box by Cammy Kerr, but referee Craig Thomson decided to blow for half time rather than the obvious free-kick in what would have been a wonderful position for the visitors.
Into the second half, and the intensity Rangers had in their play in the first half wasn’t quite there, with no real chances to report in the immediate aftermath of the restart, although at the other end, Wes Foderingham had no opportunity to get his gloves dirty. That was until another mix-up in defence in the 65th minute saw Danny Williams allowed to go face to face with the visiting goalkeeper before a combination of he and Wallace denied him.
As the half wore on, Rangers play was becoming slacker, and a poor Foderingham kick-out reached sub Yordi Teijsse, but his effort on goal found only the arms of the stopper.
Teijsse then had another effort from a header following another Dees corner as the Gers defence looked frail again at the set-piece. Danny Wilson then did well to turn a Williams cross over the bar rather than into his own net as the home side ratcheted up the pressure as Rangers lost their grip on proceedings.
Indeed, it was injury time before Rangers even threatened to put the game to bed with McKay forcing Bain into a smart stop to prevent the score going to 3-1.
They weren’t to pay for that miss though, as Mark Warburton’s side held out for an overall deserved three points.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace; Rossiter, Barton, Halliday (Kranjcar, 62); Forrester (O’Halloran, 67), Miller (Dodoo, 62), McKay.
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks, Hill, Hodson, Bates.
DUNDEE: Bain, Holt, Vincent (Ross, 58), O’Dea, Loy (El Bakhtaoui, 67), Duffy (Teijsse, 67), Williams, O’Hara. Extabeguren. McGowan, Kerr.
SUBS NOT USED: Mitchell, Gadzhalov, Wighton,.
REFEREE: Craig Thomson