RANGERS earned themselves a replay in the Scottish Cup after a goalless draw at Ibrox but it wasn’t for want of trying.
The Light Blues dominated the game against former Ger Lee McCulloch’s team and despite a barrage of attacks and staking out the visitors penalty area late on, they couldn’t make it count. Both James Tavernier and Danny Wilson hit the woodwork before Mark O’Hara was dismissed for a high tackle a minute from time.
Martyn Waghorn looked to have won it stoppage time but a last ditch tackle saved Killie and Rangers will now have another bite at entering the quarter-finals at Rugby Park a week on Tuesday.
It was the Premiership side who made it a nervy opening as they tried to imprint their higher league status on the game. Greg Kiltie exchanged a quick one-two with Lee Hodson on the right flank and then swung a good ball onto the head of Magennis. The Northern Irish international was at a difficult angle but his glancing header evaded Wes Foderingham and so very nearly crept in at the base of the post. This wasn’t going to be plain sailing for Gers.
But the Light Blues responded with gusto minutes later, Barrie McKay skipped down the touchline to slip a short ball into the feet of Lee Wallace. The captain’s attempt to side foot the ball home was only halted by the advances of Jamie McDonald, who made himself big.
After the early scare from Killie Gers turned the screws and imposed a strong period of pressure over McCulloch’s side. James Tavernier fashioned his team’s biggest chance of the opening period on 17 minutes, seemingly from nothing. Turning sharply on the edge of the area he lashed a low shot on the half volley and it cannoned off the post. Rangers were slowly gaining control over the game.
The visitors wanted to do something about it and when Killie broke, after McKay had a penalty call waved away, Temitope Obadeyi nearly did just that. The former Bolton youngster cut in from the left to let fire, he stung Foderingham’s palms as he scuttled to his near post and was forced into a low save.
Rangers were appealing again with four minutes to go to the break. Wallace arguing that his close range shot had been stopped by the arm of a defender, which it had, but with the player knew little about it. His protests were waved away.
Then McKay profited when Tavernier’s cross was cleared into his path, the Scotland Under-21 controlled the ball with two superb touches and then rifled a ball goalwards. McDonald had to scramble to save it.
It was immediately up the other end as Foderingham was forced into a strong save at his near post. Craig Slater danced along the by-line and attempted to sneak the ball in at the base of the post but Gers keeper stood up to save with his body and the ball bounced behind for a corner.
Although Warburton’s men had enjoyed the majority of the play they had struggled to create much that was clear cut when the half-time whistle sounded.
Halliday had the first bite of the second-half, looking to start off when he left off against Raith Rovers in front of goal. With little going on in front of him the Govan-born-boy made space for himself on the edge of the area and lashed a daisy cutter to the right of McDonald. The keeper was quick enough to get to the ball though and made a superb diving save.
Harry Forrester and Jason Holt were introduced with half an hour left to play and January signing Forrester should have been celebrating four minutes later. A clearing header fell into his path and the winger took too many touches before slicing his shot wide with the goal gaping.
There were more gasps from the Ibrox faithful when Tavernier flashed a dangerous free-kick across the face of goal and both Rob Kiernan and Halliday failed to connect with the ball by centimetres.
Kilmarnock weren’t lying down though and when Gers defence were force to bundle a set-piece out of the box it fell to Rory McKenzie 25 yards out. The midfielder took it on the volley and put his laces through it, Foderingham was prepared to make the save sprawling into mid-air but Wilson threw himself into its path.
With 15 minutes to go Gers needed a goal to prevent a replay and Danny Wilson and Waghorn nearly provided it, within seconds of each other. Forrester’s corner found Wilson at the far post and he cracked a header off the crossbar. The ball fell to striker Waghorn but he slammed his shot into the side netting, on such an angle that it had some fans celebrating.
Warburton’s side were throwing everything at it, Halliday attempted a low pile driver from distance and it whizzed inches wide of the far post. Then with less than five minute to play McKay placed a ball onto the toe of Waghorn eight yards out, but the usual poacher miscontrolled and watched the ball trickle out of play.
The game showed no signs of dying down and Mark O’Hara saw red with a minute left to play. The substitute lunged into a tackle on Tavernier at knee height with his studs showing.
Gers went again once he had trudged off the park, the ball found its way through a tangled mess of bodies to Waghorn, stalking the edge of the area. He unleashed a powerful strike that looked to have the keeper beaten but a last ditch tackle saw the ball fly out of play. That was to be Rangers last chance to make the difference.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan (Law 74’), Wilson, Wallace, Ball, Halliday, Zelalem (Holt 60’), McKay, Miller (Forrester 60’), Waghorn
Subs not used: Bell, Shiels, Clark, Thompson
Yellows: Holt 68’
KILMARNOCK: McDonald, Hodson, Balatoni, Findlay, Smith, Dicker (O’Hara 64’), Slater, Kiltie, McKenzie, Magennis, Obadeyi (Higginbotham 73’)
Subs not used: Brennan, Ashcroft, Hamill, Frizzel, Boyd
Yellows: Smith 31’, McKenzie 71’