Despite a summer of debacle, Rangers fans travelled north in their numbers however, their enthusiasm was some-what defused afterwards as they only managed to draw the game.
Peterhead manager, Jim McInally declared himself proud of his teams battling performance that saw them earn a point.
McInally said: “In the second half everybody did what they were good at. I am so proud because my players are disappointed. I can’t believe I have gone into a dressing room that’s disappointed – I never thought that would happen [today].”
On a historical day for his club – playing their first ever league match outside of the top division – Rangers manager Ally McCoist lamented his team’s poor defending and admitted today could serve as a reality check.
McCoist commented: “In any game of football you’ve got to earn the right to play and earn the right to go and compete. It is a rude awakening to one or two because Peterhead battled for everything. Jim’s team are the only team that really deserve any plaudits today.”
More worryingly for ‘Gers fans, McCoist hinted that the players’ attitude was not what you’d expect.
He added: “Certainly in the second half I thought there was a lot more desire from their players to scores goals than there was from us to keep them out. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am at the way we defended the second half.”
At half time, the prospect of this match finishing a draw seemed absurd. Rangers controlled the first half and deserved their 1-0 lead despite playing within themselves, with the goal coming after 26 minutes. The impressive Lewis McLeod played a long ball towards Lee McCulloch, who headed on to Barrie McKay who made his way past the last defender to place his shot beyond Paul Jarvie.
Whatever Ally McCoist told his players at half time did not work. Rangers began with their wide players in a 3-4-3 formation with Andrew Little and Lee Wallace in-particular playing much higher up the pitch than they had done in the first half. It was a move that suggested confidence, but perhaps over-confidence.
Peterhead rallied and stepped up their level of performance after the break. They almost equalised on the hour mark following some good play down the left from Steven Noble. Rory McAllister produced a wonderful effort that seemed destined for the top corner. Rangers goalkeeper, Neil Alexander, was forced into an unbelievable save in order to keep the effort out.
Rangers didn’t learn their lesson as The Blue Toon got an equaliser just a few minutes later. Buoyed by his previous strike, Rory McAllister received the ball on the right hand corner of the penalty area and showed remarkable composure to finish in the far corner for 1-1.
Rangers responded with the introduction of new signing Fransico Sandaza. They were almost rewarded immediately as they upped the tempo of their play as Sandaza showed his class on three separate occasions – with two shots and one assist – as Rangers tried to restore their advantage.
You would think Peterhead would simply sit-in and defend their position but they didn’t. Extraordinarily, with just nine minutes remaining, the home side took the lead. Ger’s stopper Neil Alexander and the Rangers defence failed to clear a Peterhead corner and the ball fell to Scott Mclaughlin who fired through the crowded area to make it 2-1. It was an incredible moment, Balmoor Stadium – populated mostly with Rangers fans – was stunned into silent disbelief.
Unfortunately Peterhead could not quite see out the final stages. In the last-minute, substitute Kevin Kyle scored – despite the best efforts of Paul Jarive – with a well placed header. 2-2 the game finished.
Huge credit has to go to Peterhead for their second half performance and making the occasion as exciting as it was historic. If they had not stepped up their level of performance, Rangers would have won this game comfortably. Rangers failed to react to the second half resurgence from their part-time opponents and in the end; their complacent attitude after the break cost them the victory.
PETERHEAD: Jarvie, Sharp, Ross, McDonald, Noble; McLaughlin, Cowie (Deasley 87), Strachan, Redman; Winters (Bavidge 59), McAllister (Maguire 83).
SCORERS: McAllister 64, McLaughlin 82.
RANGERS: Alexander; Broadfoot, Goian, Bocanegra; Little, Black, Macleod (Kyle 83), Wallace; McKay (Sandaza 64), McCulloch, Shiels.
SCORERS: McKay 26, Little 90.
REFEREE: Stephen Finnie.