Rangers 2 Stranraer 0: Blues do themselves proud against Steven Gerrard's men

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard wasn't happy to see his side frustrated by Stranraer for long periods (pic: Getty Images)
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard wasn't happy to see his side frustrated by Stranraer for long periods (pic: Getty Images)

There's invariably a contrast in the moods of football managers when they emerge from a dressing room post-match to attend to their respective media duties.

Assuming the match hasn't ended in a draw, sometimes even if it has, one is usually upbeat about his side's performance, the other downcast and lamenting his players' fallibilities.

That was the case in the Ibrox media room after Rangers' 2-0 Scottish Cup win over Stranraer on Friday night. Par for the course?

Well, not quite. The difference here was that the losing manager was by far the happier of the two.

Stevie Farrell was justifiably proud of his players' determined and disciplined display. As he pointed out, better teams than Stranraer have gone to Ibrox this season and been soundly whacked by far more convincing margins than that inflicted on his League One outfit.

On the other hand Steven Gerrard was far from enthused about what he felt was a laboured show from his men. Bored was how he put it.

His view had some validity in that Rangers, for all their territorial dominance, failed to cut open statistically the second leakiest defence in Scotland. Only Brechin - just - have conceded more.

But that does a disservice to Stranraer who went out with a game plan to stifle Rangers and executed it, for the most part, perfectly.

And when Rangers did get through they found their former youth keeper Max Currie in inspired form.

"We worked all week on trying to invite Rangers into wider areas, rather than that central area where they are so dangerous and I don't think Rangers carved us open many times," said Farrell afterwards.

"Ultimately we've lost two goals, one from the second phase at a corner and one from a penalty.

"Overall I thought we were excellent and there's better teams than us have come here this season and suffered much heavier defeats."

Stranraer's game plan was obvious from the start - Ryan Stevenson in splendid isloation up front to try and give his hard-pressed defence an out and everyone else behind the ball.
It worked for much of the first half as the Blues worked hard to deny Rangers space and threw their bodies in the way to block when required.

Currie played his part as well, notably deflecting Ryan Jack's effort onto a post when the Gers man was clean through and keeping an Andy Halliday effort out with his feet.
But just as Stranraer looked as if they might get to half-time still on level terms, Rangers struck.

George Edmonson got in a bit of a fankle trying to force home a Steven Davis corner but, unluckily for Stranraer, the ball broke to Scott Arfield who gave Currie no chance with a low drive.

There was still time for Currie to keep out a Nikola Katic header before the break and he was even busier in the second period with a string of saves, the standout being a brilliant tip over at full stretch from Nathan Patterson.

But Rangers killed off the tie on 66 minutes when Jermain Defoe got away from Adam Cummins who brought him down for a penalty. Defoe duly did the needful from the spot.

The danger then was that disappointment and fatigue among Stranraer's part-timers would set in and they would collapse in the closing stages.

They didn't though. They remained hemmed in for the most part but their spirited resistance ensured there was no further damage and they could go to thank their supporters at time up with their heads high.

Of course the task now for Farrell is to get his side to defend like that on a regular basis - after all if they had done that on a consistent basis over the past few months they wouldn't be sitting bottom of the league and 10 points from safety.

The Stranraer boss said: "I always believe when you're having a season like we are in the league, a performance like this in a game like this can change your season.

"Players can take so much and so they should. They should be proud of their performance- now the important thing for us is to build on the momentum."