This is how it feels - Part One (The Rangers 13th May 2018)
Article is so long it needs to be posted in two parts!
Wow, that was simply bonkers!
Travelling in to Easter Road I let my mind treat me to the thought that we’d win 6-0 and finish third in the league. My keep it realistic genes kicked in and I reckoned there wouldn’t be anywhere near six goals in the game as surely the Rangers would keep things tight and try to pick us off on the break. After all, they only needed to win 1-0 and Celtic would surely beat Aberdeen.
After all the reactions to Wednesday night’s painful Derby defeat and the fact that Neil Lennon had hinted he might be moving on, I wondered what changes might be made, if any. I was shocked when I learned that Darren McGregor had been dropped to the bench whilst Martin Boyle missed out through injury and Brandon Barker was also left on the bench. Despite the 4-4-2 formation not working last Wednesday it was that formation today with Whittaker at right back and Efe joined Paul in the centre of the defence. Up front, Maclaren replaced Barker.
With the Hibs portion of the South Stand looking pretty well full, a far smaller number than normal of the Rangers fans occupied the rest and though smaller in number their behaviour and songbook was still every bit as vile. They really are a blight on our society.
In bright sunshine, Hibs started the better and soon took control of the game with Allan and McGeouch in midfield prompting while McGinn minded the shop. After ten minutes, with the ball out on the Hibs right, Maclaren was hauled to the ground by Bates and it was in the 18 yard box. I had been watching the flight of the ball and so I didn’t see the incident but referee Andrew Dallas did and promptly pointed to the spot. Having missed against Aberdeen, Maclaren passed on this one and Flo Kamberi duly rifled a shot high into the net. The Rangers were rocking and looked all at sea in defence when ten minutes later a fine Stevenson cross to the back post was met by Slivka who’s wonderfully controlled cushioned header allowed Scott Allan to push the ball into the net from close range. Barely three minutes later it was 3-0 with another superb Stevenson cross picking out Maclaren who headed the ball strongly past Alnwick in the Rangers goal.
By this time the home support was bouncing – literally in many cases. When Whittaker almost made it four it looked as though the impossible might become possible but Hibs were naÔve, with a good 70 minutes still to go they pushed forward a little too much and paid the penalty when a depleted rear-guard saw Holt pick out Tavernier with the Rangers man sweeping the ball past the helpless Marciano. Just a few short minutes later the Hibs defence was once again posted missing which allowed Rossiter to pull another goal back. At that point, the Rangers replaced Goss who had been booked and looked a candidate for a red, with Alves. Amazingly, with around five minutes to go until half time a silly defensive tackle gave Alves the chance to blast home an equaliser from the free kick. It was now Hibs rocking and a short back pass to Marciano allowed Cummings to steel the ball but he drifted too wide and his effort was cleared before it could cross the line.
After a breathless and quite amazing first half I wondered what the second might bring and ten minutes in I found out as Cummings broke free on the Hibs left and picked out the unmarked Jason Holt whose shot was looking as though it would land safely in the arms of Marciano but it took a wicked deflection off Ambrose and trickled over the line.
Hibs were stunned into action and took the game to the Rangers with the visitors seemingly content to hold on to what they had. All the pushing for an equaliser left Hibs light at the back again although another Holt effort was going well wide until Windass stuck a foot out and the unlucky Marciano was beaten again. Two minutes later, Maclaren pulled one back with a fine driven shot and then the Rangers protested long and loud for a penalty when a cross from the right seemed to hit Hanlon’s hand. Hibs took that as a get out of jail card and pushed on with every opportunity. One determined run from McGinn ended when he was blatantly pulled back by Holt who was already on a yellow and got a second for his troubles. With five minutes left, the ball was always heading for the Rangers penalty area but no-one could provide the killer touch in front of goal. McGeouch almost managed it but his fierce left foot drive was pushed away by Alnwick.
Referee Andrew Dallas deemed that there would be a minimum of five added minutes and the home support roared the players on whilst the Rangers players were obviously happy to waste every second they could. Deep into that time added on, Barker skinned Tavernier on the left, reached the bye-line and smacked a low cross to the front post where a grateful Jamie Maclaren smashed his hat trick goal high past Alnwick. That goal brought a mighty roar from the crowd and a quite bizarre reaction from Neil Lennon who ran on to the pitch, towards the Rangers fans, mimicking an aeroplane in flight. In all the years I’ve watched football I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before! As he left the pitch, Neil was ‘invited’ by fourth official Bobby Madden to go and sit in the stand. I’m not sure whether the fourth official has the power to send someone off in such circumstances but one thing is for sure, Neil will be punished for it.
When the final whistle blew the Hibs fans roared long and loud while the Rangers players went to their own fans who would surely have given them the news that Celtic had lost to Aberdeen, no doubt that news would be peppered with accusations of Celtic lying down to Aberdeen so as to deny the Rangers second place.
Bump indeed JB!
Youíre rightly getting plaudits on your other thread but iíll give you some here.
Thanks for taking the time to post these reports it is much appreciated. I logged on just now specifically to read this & your views. Will make updating your next book all the easier presumably 😁
"We've also been unsure about what has happened to the receipts of the players who have been sold."
George Foulkes BBC website 20/3/08