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Peterhead 2 Rangers 2

Mon 13 Aug 2012

McLaughlin fires home McLaughlin fires home

Peterhead did themselves proud on an historic day for Scottish Football, as they came within seconds of taking all three points from Third Division new-boys Rangers on the opening day of the league campaign, in front of the Sky TV cameras.

The reasons for the 'Gers demotion down the leagues have been well publicised, and this was their first chance to focus on football in a league setting.

All seemed to be going as expected when teenage striker Barrie McKay put the visitors in front but Peterhead were impressive and strikes from Rory McAllister and Scott McLaughlin had them in front with just eight minutes remaining.

Rory McAllister is congratulated after his goal.

However, Andy Little got the final touch on a scrappy goal in the final minute to rescue a point for Ally McCoist's side who looked shell-shocked by the work rate and application of Peterhead's part-timers.

Even within the first 45 seconds, McLaughlin put Kirk Broadfoot, one of eight full internationals in the Rangers starting eleven, under pressure to win a corner, but nothing serious developed.

As one might have anticipated, the visitors were pushing Peterhead back as much as they could, but it was the 13th minute before Lee McCulloch sent a header over the bar as they threatened for the first time, and three minutes later before Dean Shiels saw his low shot test Paul Jarvie.

Soon after, a quick free-kick after a Dean Cowie foul saw Little get in behind Steven Noble, but the former Stranraer wing-back recovered to block the striker's effort.

And Peterhead were soon on the attack themselves, McAllister skipping past the Romanian defender Dorin Goian before getting a kind break of the ball off Broadfoot, only to snatch at his shot and make it easy for Neil Alexander to save low down.

It was into the 26th minute when McKay opened the scoring, and ironically it came about in the most simple of fashions. Lewis Macleod aimed a long ball forward. McCulloch got in front of Ryan Strachan to nod the ball down, and McKay strode onto the ball before coolly slotting low to Jarvie's right.

That could have been the moment the floodgates opened, but if there is one thing Jim McInally has done during his time at the club, it is galvanise his players; make them tough to beat. That's exactly how they proved themselves.

McLaughlin is congratulated by Scott Ross

McAllister passed up a superb chance for an equaliser ten minutes from the interval.

Ian Black's foul on Cowie led to the former Hearts man being booked for dissent, but Strachan's delivery from the set-piece was perfect for McAllister. He had time to let the ball sit up for him, but lost his composure and lashed the effort across the face of goal when the net should have been bulging.

There was concern when a mix-up between Jarvie and Strachan allowed McKay to nip between the pair, but the Gers were unable to make anything of the opportunity, and Noble cleared well.

And just before the break, a neat move involving Redman, Winters and McAllister saw the latter's cross cut out by Broadfoot with blue shirts flooding into the penalty area.

McAllister thought he had drawn the sides level after 61 minutes when he took on a Noble pass and curled an excellent shot towards the far corner of the net from the edge of the area. It looked destined to find the postage stamp, only for former Scotland goalkeeper Alexander to get the merest of touches to push the ball onto the bar.

But the same combination did bring about the leveller two minutes later. Noble crossed from the left and McAllister brought the ball down with the deftest of touches before turning sharply to leave Carlos Bocanegra sprawling, and placing the ball past Alexander with his left foot.

Rangers' immediate response was to bring on Fran Sandaza for goalscorer McKay, but it was Bocanegra who headed the next chance past the post from a Black free-kick.

Sandaza did have a chance after a Shiels flick-on, but Jarvie got down well to save, and the keeper was quick off his line to deny the Spaniard again with 15 minutes remaining.

Jarvie was in action again as the Gers continued to search to take the lead once more. This time Bocanegra's curling cross found McCulloch at the back post, but former Wigan man saw his powerful volley beaten away by the goalkeeper.

But, who would believe Peterhead would take the lead? Goian gave away a needless corner and when Alexander could only palm away Strachan's deliver, McLaughlin charged in at the edge of the area to lash an unstoppable left-foot strike high into the net.

The looks of joy, and a hint of surprise, on the Blue Toon players' faces as they celebrated the goal said it all, but they quickly settled down to the task of trying to see the game out.

But their hopes of a surprise three points were extinguished when substitute Kevin Kyle turned a Shiels corner towards goal. The ball struck the underside of the bar and was eventually bundled over the line by Little, to seal a point for the relieved visiting side.

PETERHEAD: Paul Jarvie, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Scott Ross, Callum Macdonald, Dean Cowie (Bryan Deasley, 87), Ryan Strachan, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Stephen Maguire, 83), Robbie Winters (Martin Bavidge, 59), Scott McLaughlin. Subs not used: Roy McBain, Marc McCallum (gk). Booked: Macdonald, Sharp, Cowie.

RANGERS: Neil Alexander, Dorin Goian, Carlos Bocanegra, Kirk Broadfoot, Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Andy Little, Ian Black, Dean Shiels, Barrie McKay (Fran Sandaza, 65), Lewis MacLeod (Kevin Kyle, 83). Subs not used: Kyle Hutton, Robbie Crawford, Scot Gallagher (gk).

Booked: Black.

Attendance: 4,485.