RANGERS fell to their first defeat of the season in the Championship at the hands of Hibernian.
The second placed club netted either side of an own goal from former Ranger Darren McGregor. Jason Cummings took just 10 minutes to open the scoring at Easter Road and they struck again 18 minutes from time as Mark Warburton’s side dropped their first points of the campaign.
The result means that Hibs move to within five points of the Light Blues at the top of the table.
The opening period of the game was a tasty and fractious affair – within three minutes Rangers had had a penalty shout waved away. Lewis Stevenson brining down Jason Holt inside the box as Gers showed their early attacking intent.
There was an early let off for the visitors too when Dominique Malonga fed in Dylan McGeough on seven minutes. He failed to connect properly, with just Wes Foderingham to slot the ball past, and the chance went begging.
A minute later it was Rangers captain Wallace slicing his shot fractions wide of the upright, as the end to end nature of the game continued.
Then with just 10 minutes on the clock Cummings put Hibernian one up. The 20-year-old picked the ball up outside the box and cut inside to curl a superb strike beyond the helpless Foderingham.
Hibs had another good chance nine minutes later when Malonga twisted and turned to outwit Danny Wilson. The ball dropped for David Gray but his tame shot was easily held by the Gers stopper. Martyn Waghorn responded, but like Gray his dragged strike had little power, and Mark Oxley collected.
Rangers had to wait until 27 minutes to have their next clear cut chance when Holt made room for himself 10 yards out. His strike was on target but Nicky Clark stood in his way and blocked the shot accidently.
James Tavernier went closest for Rangers in the opening period two minutes later. Clark was involved again as he went tearing up the pitch from a free-kick at the back. He squared for Waghorn but the striker was well ahead of the ball and it came to the full-back. He was storming forward and took the shot on first time as he fired a shot at Oxley’s goal and the keeper did well to tip it over.
Hibs could have replied quickly as Malonga broke free but he curled his left-footed shot high and wide to keep Rangers within touching distance.
Having scored two free-kicks against the Hibees this season already, Tavernier looked to be setting up another one of his spectacular set-pieces on 34 minutes. The result somewhat summed up the Light Blues first-half though, as the he drilled it into the base of the wall.
It was a perfect start to the second-half for Rangers – within two minutes of the restart they had levelled through an own goal from former Ger Darren McGregor. Waghorn squared a ball to Wallace 25-yards out and he steadied himself to shoot. The left-back’s strike cannoned off McGregor’s heel and the almighty deflection skewed it past Oxley.
The home side were determined not to let Rangers take a stranglehold on the half and five minutes later Dominic Ball nearly turned it into his own net. He sent the ball over the crossbar as he connected with a fizzing Hibs ball across the face of goal. Marvin Bartley followed it up with a shot that flashed just past the post. And John McGinn too had a great chance when he launched an effort wide and much of Easter Road thought he’d scored.
On 56 minutes Mark Warburton’s side went centimetres close to taking the lead as Wallace cracked the ball off the underside of the bar onto the goal line. Waghorn had had a brilliant shot palmed away by Oxley and it fell into the captain’s path with the goal gapping but the woodwork denied him. Waghorn tried again as the ball fell clear but the ball trickled out for a corner to end a nerve shredding period.
Cummings looked like he would scoop his second of the afternoon on 66 minutes as he bore down on Foderingham as the keeper was forced into a superb stop. He slipped through the two defenders but Foderingham made himself big to block the shot. Cummings had a bite at the rebound too but Wallace ran the full width of the pitch to throw himself into a last ditch tackle to prevent him.
Rangers went straight up the other end and substitute Nathan Oduwa was denied his first goal in a blue jersey by the base of the post. The Spurs youngster sent a shot skimming goalwards. Andy Halliday followed it up with a similar effort that whizzed just wide.
Foderingham was called into action again with 18 minutes left to play as he tipped over McGinn’s 25-yard free-kick. It was from the resulting corner that Hibs made it two – Paul Hanlon took them into the lead with a bullet header. It was McGinn’s set piece that landed on his head and he nodded home at the far post.
Just three minutes from time Waghorn had a gilt edged chance to level things but he fired over in front of goal. Tavernier whipped a low ball into the six-yard box but the striker was seemingly arriving with two much pace to control properly. It wasn’t to be Rangers day.
And there were tempers flared with a minute left to play when a Fraser Fyvie tackle enraged the Rangers team. Three players were booked in the melee that followed as the teams squared up to one another.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wallace, Ball, Clark (Oduwa 57’), Halliday, McKay, Holt (Shiels 80’), Wilson (Zelalem 57’), Waghorn
Subs not used: Kelly, Aird, Thompson, Walsh
Yellows: Ball 4’, Waghorn 70’, Oduwa 85’, Halliday 89’
Goals: McGregor (OG) 47’
HIBERNIAN: Oxley, Gray, Henderson (Keatings 67’), Hanlon, Malonga (Feruz, 85’), Fyvie, McGeough (Bartley 19’), Stevenson, McGinn, McGregor, Cummings
Subs not used: Reguero, Fontaine, Carmichael, Forster
Goals: Cummings 10’, Hanlon 73’
Yellows: Henderson 44’, Bartley 89’, Fyvie 89’