Given Livingston had only accumulated 12 points all season prior to Saturday’s encounter at Ibrox, adding to that tally always seemed a rather formidable proposition against Stuart McCall’s men.
But add to their tally they did as Ibra Sekajja’s goal on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Haris Vuckic’s opener to earn Mark Burchill’s side a well-deserved point in their battle against relegation.
The visitors were highly impressive given their current slump that consists of five defeats on the bounce since the goalless draw with basement battlers Alloa at the beginning of February.
As a matter of fact, the Lions could count themselves a tad unlucky not to have taken all three points back to West Lothian, as for long periods of the game they more than matched a Rangers side that are now in danger of slipping out of the promotional play-off spots.
The Lions were fearless despite the sorrow of losing a last-gasp goal to Hibs last Wednesday and not only gave their hosts and the returning Ibrox crowd a real scare, Alloa and Cowdenbeath, if they didn’t already know, have a right fight on their hands to remain in the Championship.
But Burchill stressed he and his players harboured some frustration they hadn’t reduced the gap on Alloa to just three points after such a spirited display.
“I thought Rangers were there for the taking so the boys are disappointed,” he admitted. “It’s not often you’ll hear that we’re not delighted to take a point from Ibrox but I’m greedy as a manager.
“We’ve had the short straw a few times where we haven’t got what we’ve deserved and on Saturday, if I’m being honest, I thought we deserved the three points. Rangers started well and scored from their first shot on goal, but after about 15 minutes, we dominated the rest of the first half.
“We got into some great situations where we need to do better when going forward, but I’m delighted to get the point, although I feel we could have nicked all three. I don’t think we let them play, so I have to give credit to my guys for that. If we play like that then we’ll more than hold our own between now and the end of the season and stay in the division.”
Despite the Glasgow side’s trials and tribulations this season, there was an air of optimism around Govan prior to kick-off with McCall lining up in the dugout for his first game in charge and after Vuckic had shrugged off the attention of Craig Sives to fire the home side in front after only nine minutes, another sorry afternoon for the league’s bottom club seemed the most likely outcome.
But as Rangers failed to grasp a foothold in the match, Livi began to dictate play through the impressive midfield duo of Scott Pittman and Darren Cole, the latter particularly keen to make an impression on his return to Ibrox, where he had spent three seasons before departing in 2013.
However, it was Sekajja who had the biggest influence in a yellow shirt in the opening 45 minutes as he steered the ball past Lee Robinson into the bottom corner after Danny Mullen’s header came back off the post.
Mullen was himself inches away from giving his side the lead ten minutes after the break when he drove inches past Robinson’s right-hand post from the edge of the area, but it also took an incredible fingertip save from Darren Jamieson from a Kenny Miller headed to preserve a point late on.
Burchill also praised the robustness of Cole, who has given his side an extra dimension.
He said: “It’s not often you get guys on a free who have played in the Champions League (for Rangers in 2010). He’s a top quality player, he’s come in and not asked for a lot of money and has been a credit to himself. He’s a guy that can go and play at a higher level – I have no doubt about that.”
Rangers: Robinson, Wallace, McCulloch, Law, Vuckic (Templeton 72), Clark, Faure (Zaliukas 52), Miller (Boyd 81), Hutton, McGregor, Walsh. Subs: Simonsen, Smith, Shiels, Murdoch.
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Cole, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, Gallagher, Mullen (Hippolyte 67), Sekajja (White 80), Pittman (McKenna 90). Subs: Walker, O’Brien, Beaumont, Glen.
Referee: Andrew Dallas