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Rangers settle for point in third-tier opener

A last-minute goal from Andrew Little helped Rangers secure a draw this afternoon.

Peterhead's Rory McAllister (right) celebrates scoring during the Scottish Division Three match.
Peterhead's Rory McAllister (right) celebrates scoring during the Scottish Division Three match.

RANGERS NEEDED A last-minute equaliser to spare their blushes as the Glasgow giants started life in the Third Division with a 2-2 draw against part-timers Peterhead on Saturday.

It is an amazing fall from grace for the Ibrox club, who were making their debut in Scottish football’s lowest tier after being demoted when the old company couldn’t be saved from liquidation.

Teenager Barrie McKay had scored Rangers’ first ever goal in Scotland’s lowest tier in the 27th minute before strikes from Rory McAllister, who had been a thorn in Rangers’ side all day, and Scott McLaughlin turned the game on its head.

But, with time running out, Andrew Little knocked the ball over the line after substitute Kevin Kyle’s header crashed off the bar.

Rangers are overwhelming favourites to stroll to automatic promotion in a league otherwise comprised of part-time and amateur sides.

However, despite dominating possession, they struggled to break down the defence of a team who had been the favourites to win the title before Rangers dropped down the leagues.

Visiting manager Ally McCoist admitted he was relieved to get a point in the end.

“I felt we defended appallingly to be honest. We didn’t match their aggression and if our boys at any time thought this was going to be a cake-walk they know where they are now,” he said.

“I am not going to start panicking but overall I still think we will play better and we’ll certainly pass the ball better but enormous credit must go to Peterhead.”

Despite losing such a late equaliser, Peterhead manager Jim McInally, a former Scotland international midfielder, was delighted with his side.

“I can’t believe I have gone into a dressing room that is disappointed at drawing 2-2 with Rangers,” he said.

At tiny Balmoor Stadium in Peterhead, a fishing port on Scotland’s north-east coast, McCoist sent out a starting line-up containing eight full internationals.

They struggled to make their quality tell in the early stages and it was Peterhead who had the first real chance when McAllister’s header from a corner was knocked off the line by McKay.

Rangers went on to take the lead when Lee McCulloch headed Lewis MacLeod’s long ball into the path of McKay, who took a touch before sending an angled shot past ‘keeper Paul Jarvie from eight yards.

Peterhead could have been level soon after when the Rangers defence switched off at a free-kick allowing McAllister space for a shot, but he sent his miscued angled effort from six yards well wide.

Goalkeeper Neil Alexander came to Rangers’ rescue on the hour mark when he tipped McAllister’s curling shot from the edge of the box on to the bar, but the striker was not to be denied four minutes later.

He showed the quality that took him to the top flight earlier in his career with Inverness when he sent USA international Carlos Bocanegra the wrong way before curling a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Peterhead then stunned the visitors when they took the lead late on.

Alexander’s punched clearance from a corner deflected off Kirk Broadfoot into the path of McLaughlin, who sent a vicious volley flying past the helpless ‘keeper and into the net.

However, Little came to the rescue at the death when Kyle’s header came off the bar and the striker reacted quickest to knock the ball in from two yards with his knee.

© AFP, 2012

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