RANGERS drew with Kilmarnock in a dramatic ending at Ibrox which saw a red card, a missed penalty and an injury time equaliser.
Jason Holt had put the Gers ahead a minute before half-time with his first goal in over a year but with Pedro Caixinha serving a one match ban and watching from the stands his side couldn’t close the game out.
That led to the match going into a tense ending and it looked like the Light Blues would sew up their win when Daniel Candeias stepped up to take a 90th minute spot-kick after Eduardo Herrera was pushed just inside the box.
Ryan Jack was yellow carded for pushing Kirk Broadfoot to the floor as both sides waited for the kick to be taken. But then in a shock turn of events the referee reversed his decision to a red to send the midfielder off. Candeias missed from 12 yards and Killie broke to equalise through former Rangers winger Chris Burke. Snatching three points from under Rangers’ nose.
The game had started so quietly when Jordan Jones went close to opening the scoring for Steve Clarke’s side with just nine minutes played when he latched onto a ball over the top. The Northern Ireland international controlled superbly to take it inside Bruno Alves on the edge of the box before lashing a shot wide of the near post.
Rangers were forced into a reshuffle early on when Graham Dorrans went down under a heavy tackle from Alan Power. The Gers midfielder couldn’t came back onto the pitch after treatment but was clearly struggling to put weight on his right foot. he was withdrawn to be replaced by Eduardo Herrera as Rangers switched to a 4-4-2.
The new look attack nearly took the lead moments later on 24 minutes when Josh Windass broke through the middle with pace before laying off to his left to Alfredo Morelos. The Colombian played it short to John, who was lurking on the edge of the box, and the Welshman tried to curl one inside the post with his lesser favoured right foot but it drifted out.
There was another flash of attacking flair from the Light Blues three minutes later when Candeias sent a dangerous cross whizzing across the face of goal. Windass was there waiting to turn it home but couldn’t make the ultimate connection to send his team ahead.
Kilmarnock had chances of their own and Rangers looked on the back foot when Greg Taylor cut in off the left, wriggled free and hit a weak shot into the arms of the diving Wes Foderingham.
Jamie MacDonald kept his side in it with a brave save at the feet of Windass 10 minutes before the turnaround. Morelos picked out the Gers number 11 with a superb threaded ball from the edge of the area to slice the Killie defence in two. With just the keeper to beat Windass tried to pick out the bottom corner with a right footed shot but the keeper made himself big and went to ground to deny the 23-year-old his second of the season.
Rangers took the lead with a rapid and ultimately deadly passage of play with just a minute to go to half-time. James Tavernier got to the by-line down the right, Herrera picked up his ball to back heel onto the penalty spot and the waiting Morelos deftly laid off to Holt. The diminutive midfielder needed no invitation to rocket the ball into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season from 10 yards out.
Herrera went so close to doubling the Gers lead with an audacious effort two minutes into the second period. The Gers broke and Windass saw Jack in the left channel with a quick pass. The former Aberdeen man lifted the ball into the six yard box where the striker was waiting and with his back to goal the Mexican tried a right-footed flick which was saved well.
Candeias saw himself through a few minutes later as he narrowly beat the offside trap from a dinked Morelos ball but MacDonald smothered at his feet before he could apply a finish.
Tavernier went close on 57 minutes too as the home side tried a short corner routine out on the left. Candeias took the corner and the full-back turned the pace on to position himself on the right angle of the box after picking up the ball. He unleashed a thunderous effort which brushed the side netting. Soon after Bruno Alves planted a header goalwards from a John corner but old boy Kris Boyd got the final touch to clear the danger.
Jones beat Alves for pace on 69 minutes to break free on the right and skip into the box and put Rangers under serious pressure. He spied Boyd arriving from the other flank and picked out the 34-year-old who had just Ross McCrorie for company in the area. Boyd dragged the ball onto his other foot and Foderingham had to get down low to palm into the path of Jones. The Middlesbrough academy graduate tried one on the follow up but was off-side.
Killie followed that up with another great chance and were only denied by the exploits of Foderingham who executed a superb save to deny Rory McKenzie. Their move started from a long Findlay throw from the left, it was flicked on by a nod and teed up McKenzie perfectly who put his laces through it to hammer a central strike. The Gers number one scrambled to his right to get down and deny the Scottish 24-year-old.
With Rangers unable to close the game out Jones was looking dangerous for the visitors and was involved again with nine minutes to go. He darted in from the right to switch feet as he entered the box and flashed a shot across goal which grazed Foderingham’s far post.
McKenzie had a double of chances late on to level things for his side as he saw John block his shot a few yards out and then Foderingham save a three minutes from time.
There was a frantic ending to the game as Rangers were awarded a penalty with a minute to play when Herrera was barged over just inside the box. But the issues happened outside the box when Jack pushed Broadfoot to the ground in a mele. After some time Alan Muir gave both men a yellow card but then reversed his decision after the fourth official called him over. Jack was shown the red and then Candeias had the spot-kick saved.
Six minutes added on time was shown but Killie needed just one of that to race up the other end and equalise through Chris Burke. The Rangers academy graduate snuck the ball in with a sliding finish at the back post after a low cross from the right.
Rangers could have won it when an indirect free-kick was given in Kilmarnock’s box for a pass back but Alves’ blazed shot was blocked by nearly the whole away team.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Alves, McCrorie, John, Jack, Dorrans (Herrera 22’), Holt, Windass (Nemane 64’), Morelos (Barjonas 77’), Candeias.
Subs not used: Kelly, Wilson, Dalcio, Hodson.
Goals: Holt 44’
Yellows: Tavernier 72’
Red: Jack 90’
KILMARNOCK: Macdonald, O’Donnell, Greer, Broadfoot, Power, McKenzie, Boyd (Erwin 79’), Jones, Taylor, Findlay, Frizzell (Burke 65’)
Subs not used: Bell, Thomas, S.Boyd, Waters, Brophy.
Goals: Burke 90+’
Yellows: Power 55’ Findlay 58’ Broadfoot 90’