Rangers have won the Co-operative Insurance Cup after St Mirren dominated most of the game, and Rangers had two men sent off. Kenny Miller scored with his head after being set up by substitute Steven Naismith to give Rangers the won against all the odds.
Walter Smith made only one change from the team who drew 3-3 against Dundee United last Sunday. Neil Alexander replaced Allan McGregor in goals as Walter Smith rewarded him for playing in all the previous rounds.
Rangers were clear favourites before the game started, but it was St Mirren who would be by far the better team in this game, and they will be devastated to have lost this one, especially after Rangers went down to nine men.
Billy Mehmet had the first real chance early on after a slip from David Weir. Mehmet raced in on goal but seen his shot go wide off Sasa Papac’s head. Rangers stand in goalkeeper Neil Alexander gave his team a scare when he received a backpass from Nacho Novo and decided to try and be fancy rather than launch it up field. He was intercepted by Jack Ross who was then unlucky not to score.
Alexander made amends moments later though when he saved superbly on the line from a Steven Thomson shot. St Mirren continued to dominate the half but could not break the deadlock in the first half. The Saints did have a shot come off the bar, and Rangers’ best chance of the first half fell to Kenny Miller who broke through the middle, beat two of three St Mirren players but then shot over the bar when he should really have hit the target.
Steven Davis was hooked at half-time, and replaced by Maurice Edu. Davis was obviously not himself and still suffering from a sickness and diarrhea bug. I was surprised Walter Smith didn’t opt for another creative player such as Steven Naismith or DeMarcus Beasley at this point.
The Saints continued to get the better of Rangers in the early exchanges of the second half, but the game was beginnning to become a bit heated. This eventually resulted in Kevin Thomson seeing Red after a two footed lung on Steven Thomson. On another day he may have gotten away with a yellow, but referee Craig Thomson was obviously wanting to stamp his authority on the game after the heated exchanges leading up to the tackle. Thomson can’t really have many complaints as it was a reckless tackle, and not the first time in his career he has been sent off for a reckless tackle.
Rangers were reduced to nine men after Danny Wilson pulled the shirt of Craig Dargo on the edge of the box. St Mirren were looking for a penalty but the foul was outside the box. The ref seen it as a goalscoring opportunity however and sent Wilson packing.
From here on it was desperate defending for Rangers and their backs were against the wall, but eventually, being down to nine men seemed to spur Rangers on. Walter Smith brought Steven Naismith on, and it was an inspired substitution.
Naismith led a Rangers breakaway in the 84th minute, and put in a perfect cross for Kenny Miller who headed brilliantly past St Mirren goalkeeper Paul Gallacher. You could see how much it meant to Miller as he lept the advertising boards and ran towards the Rangers fans. The Rangers striker was booked for his celebrations, but he didn’t care.
Rangers managed to hang on for the remaining six minutes, and three minutes injury time to win the League Cup for the 26TH time. St Mirren can feel a little hard done by, but in the end, Rangers showed fantastic spirit, and proved that even with nine men they are still capable of winning.
Anyone for a treble?
St Mirren Gallacher, Barron, Mair, Potter, Ross, Carey, Murray (Dorman 60), Brady (O’Donnell 85), Thomson, Mehmet (Dargo 70), Higdon.
SUBS NOT USED: Howard, Robb.
YELLOW CARDS: Mair, Murray, Brady.
Rangers Alexander, Whittaker, Weir, Wilson, Papac, Davis (Edu 46), Thomson, McCulloch, Novo (Smith 89), Boyd (Naismith 79), Miller.
SUBS NOT USED: McGregor, Beasley.
YELLOW CARDS: Whittaker, McCulloch, Miller.
RED CARDS: Thomson, Wilson.
GOALS: Miller (84).
Referee: C Thomson.