IT was a tale of two goalkeepers as Rangers’ Allan McGregor and Aberdeen’s Joe Lewis produced impressive displays – and kept clean sheets – in today’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash at Ibrox Stadium.
On a day when new signings Ianis Hagi and Flo Kamberi both made their debuts, the Light Blues again put in plenty of graft throughout a hard-fought 90 minutes but couldn’t find a way to break the deadlock, with Lewis in inspired form as the visitors claimed a point to take back to the Granite City.
Gers boss Steven Gerrard made two changes to his starting line-up this afternoon with Joe Aribo and Alfredo Morelos replacing Sheyi Ojo and the injured Jermain Defoe.
That meant it was a back five of Allan McGregor between the posts with Matt Polster, Connor Goldson, Nikola Katic and Borna Barisic in front of him.
Glen Kamara, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield made up the midfield, while Ryan Kent and Aribo played off Morelos. Fit-again James Tavernier along with Hagi and Kamberi made the bench for kick-off.
Rangers, shooting towards the Copland Stand in the first half, got the action underway but the first goal-scoring opportunity came in front of the Broomloan Bears, with Sam Cosgrove guilty of missing a snip.
Niall McGinn delivered a teasing cross from the right but the Dons’ towering number 16, who was unmarked, missed the ball as he attempted to volley from six yards out.
As ever with there was a real edge to this contest in the early stages, with several hard challenges getting supporters out of their seats.
Another McGinn cross, this time from a free-kick, led to the next chance, with McGregor having to be alert to tip the ball over his bar at full stretch from a Lewis Ferguson header.
New signings Hagi and Kamberi were told to warm up by Gerrard with 18 minutes on the clock, and they received a rapturous welcome from the Ibrox faithful.
On the pitch, however, Derek McInnes would have been happy with the start his team made to the game, with Matty Kennedy going close with a curling effort which was aimed for the opposite top corner.
Before the half-hour mark every fan in the ground held their breath as a Katic mistake allowed Cosgrove to run through on goal with only McGregor to beat. Thankfully, the Reds’ top scorer took a heavy touch, allowing the Gers number one to dive at his feet to grab the ball.
There was now an air of tension around the stadium with Rangers working hard but failing to test Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis. That changed on 32 minutes with the visitors’ captain getting down low to make a good save from Steven Davis’ long-range effort.
That gave the home side a much-needed lift though, and the goalkeeper went on to make two good saves before the half ended; firstly doing well to hold a powerful drive from Morelos before he got a really good hand to the ball to deny Arfield, who must have thought he had scored when he glanced a net-bound header towards goal from a whipped Barisic corner.
After a positive end to the first forty-five, Gerrard stuck with the same eleven players for the restart and the Light Blues came out of the traps quickly, upping the tempo and intensity of their play.
On 57 minutes a terrific long ball from Goldson dipped over an Aberdeen defender and was controlled by Morelos who was now in a one v one situation with Lewis.
Fans in red, white and blue watched and waited for the net to ripple but the Dons keeper produced a brilliant save to deny the prolific Colombian.
It was a lot better from Rangers in the second half, they just had a to find a way past Lewis, who was at his best again to make an impressive save from Barisic’s curling right-foot shot.
Gerrard made his first switch on 66 minutes with Ojo, who replaced Kamara, adding more pace in the wide areas and the last third of the pitch.
Rangers, however, had man of the match McGregor to thank for keeping the game goalless at around the 70-minute mark, the keeper making a fine stop from substitute Jon Gallagher before he made another point-black save from Ash Taylor’s header.
With time running out, new signings Hagi and Kamberi were handed their debuts from the bench but could this give the Gers the lift they required as they looked for the opening goal?
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Steven Gerrard’s men cut dejected figures as they walked up the tunnel following the full-time whistle, knowing two important Premiership points had been dropped.
RANGERS (4-3-3): McGregor; Polster (Kamberi 82), Goldson (c), Katic, Barisic; Arfield (Hagi 76), Davis, Kamara (Ojo 66); Aribo, Morelos, Kent
SUBS NOT USED: Foderingham, Tavernier, Edmundson, Barker
BOOKINGS: Barisic, Goldson, Arfield
ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1): Lewis (c), Logan, Taylor, McKenna, Considine; Ojo, McGeouch (Gallagher 61); Kennedy (Devlin 87), Ferguson, McGinn (Campbell 87); Cosgrove
SUBS NOT USED: Cerny, Hernandez, Hedges, Anderson
BOOKINGS: Ferguson, McGeouch, McKenn, Lewis
REFEREE: Andrew Dallas