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Peterhead 0 Rangers 1

Mon 28 Jan 2013

Rangers were missing captain Lee McCulloch through an ankle injury, the visitors made just one change to the side that had beaten Berwick Rangers handsomely, with Ian Black returning to the side in place of Dean Shiels, having completed a one-match suspension. Peterhead made two changes from the side that had lined up at the National Stadium, with David Cox and Rory McAllister coming in for Robbie Winters and Martin Bavidge.

In freezing conditions a record Balmoor crowd of 4,855 saw Peterhead started brightly and after just four minutes it was Peterhead who were first to threaten. Dean Cowie was fouled in the midfield and Ryan Strachan’s teasing free-kick delivery was met by Scott Ross with Neil Alexander in the Rangers goal doing well diving low to his left to turn away the header.

Alexander was certainly the busier keeper in the opening stages but on 13 minutes referee Mike Tumilty had to issue the first yellow card of the game to Ryan McCann who showed a bit too much enthusiasm when he produced a late challenge on Templeton. As expected the Blue Toon were well organised and worked exceptionally hard and Rangers looked for Templeton to provide a spark in the last third of the pitch.

But before the half hour mark it was Rangers stand-in skipper Lee Wallace that was the architect for the Rangers’ goal, his powerful, low shot from 20 yards was spilled by Smith and Sandaza was there to fire his shot high into the net with the keeper grounded.

On 36 minutes Peterhead looked to respond and after strong forward play from Rory McAllister he teed up David Cox who fizzed a shot across goal but wide of target. It was a good period of play from the toon and when Cox floated a corner kick to the back post Ross Smith’s net bound header was blocked on the line when he should have scored.

The Blue Toon started the second half brightly, too, as Cox squeezed out Black on the touchline and cut inside before flashing a left-footed effort over the crossbar. There was more of an edge to proceedings early in the second period, with Dean Cowie putting in a couple of typically robust challenges which seemed to unsettle the Rangers players. Referee Mike Tumilty had his yellow card out again shortly before the hour mark as Rory McAllister went into the book for a foul on Wallace and Strachan swiftly became the third player booked.

The visitors were starting to gain a territorial advantage and came close when Lewis McLeod's cross found the head of Chris Hegarty at the back post but his header failed to trouble Smith. Peterhead's task was made much harder after 65 minutes when Rory McAllister was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area, and received a second booking, reducing his side to 10 men.

The home side had certainly been more physical in the early stages of the second half but they will have been disappointed to lose their main goal threat so softly.

Kyle Hutton became the first Rangers player to be booked, after a foul on Cowie, with 15 minutes to go and that came as the home side began to find their way back into the game. Rangers could have sealed the points with five minutes remaining. McLeod `s clever reverse pass found Templeton in acres of space on the 18-yard line, but the former Hearts man sent his effort wide of the upright.

Peterhead were determined to battle for everything, though, and that was evidenced as Ross Smith became the fifth Blue Toon player to pick a up a booking - the central defender throwing himself into a challenge midway inside the Rangers half. In injury time, Alexander was forced to turn a Cox corner over his own crossbar but Peterhead could not find an equaliser that few would have begrudged them.

PETERHEAD: Smith, Cowie (Winters 79), Noble, Ross, Smith, Strachan (Sharp 74), Cox, Redman, McAllister, McLaughlin, McCann (Bavidge 57). SUBS: Maguire, Jarvie.

BOOKED: McCann, McAllister, Strachan, Ross, Smith
SENT OFF: McAllister

RANGERS: Alexander; Hegarty, Cribari, Perry, Wallace; Hutton; Little, Black (Crawford 66), Macleod, Templeton; Sandaza (McKay 81). SUBS: Gallacher, Faure, Shiels   .

Bookings: Hutton

REFEREE: Mike Tumilty

ATTD: 4,855