Ross County defended firmly to hold Rangers to a 0-0 draw in their first visit to Ibrox.
Rangers enjoyed the bulk of the attacking threat, with Josh Windass particularly impressive, however the Glasgow side were left frustrated by a strong Staggies defensive performance, with goalkeeper Scott Fox on particularly fine form.
County were without attacker Liam Boyce, who suffered a back spasm prior to the game, with the Northern Irishman replaced by Craig Curran in one of three changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Motherwell the previous week. Marcus Fraser and Kenny van der Weg also came in for Erik Cikos and the suspended Jay McEveley.
Rangers’ preparations for the match had been thrown into chaos after midfielder Joey Barton was involved in a training ground dispute which saw him banished from the club until next week, meaning he was absent from the Light Blues’ side for the game against the Staggies.
Mark Warburton’s side were keen to get the pain of last weekend’s 5-1 humbling by Old Firm rivals Celtic out of their system by getting off the mark early on, with Windass – their only impressive performer at Parkhead – again showing plenty promise. The midfielder squeezed the ball into the net after just three minutes following a neat exchange with James Tavernier only to be thwarted by an offside flag, before the former Accrington Stanley player came close again moments later, storming past Andrew Davies before rounding goalkeeper Scott Fox, only for defender Davies to recover to clear his low effort off the line.
County’s only firm chance of the first-half came on 27 minutes when Davies knocked Martin Woods’ free-kick into the path of Alex Schalk, however the Dutchman’s low effort was thwarted by a strong diving save by goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
Rangers continued to control however, and came close with a flurry of chances towards the end of the first-half, with Windass seeing another attempt deflected behind for a corner, before he struck narrowly over following Holt’s threaded pass.
County started the second-half brightly, with Curran seeing his strike from an acute angle deflected over, however Rangers’ threat increased as the game neared the hour mark, with Fox having to make an excellent save to divert Martyn Waghorn’s strike wide, before Barrie McKay’s resulting corner saw Clint Hill’s header knocked off the line by Woods.
Warburton shook things up, taking off Waghorn and Joe Garner in place of Kenny Miller and Michael O’Halloran, who was inches away from giving his side the lead with his first touch, crashing a header off the crossbar from Windass’ delivery.
Schalk threatened in a rare Staggies attack after the break, seeing his strike beaten clear by Foderingham, however Fox was called into action again to make an excellent stop from another Hill attempt following substitute Niko Kranjcar’s corner.
County held firm in the closing stages, keeping the Light Blues at bay to emerge from their first league meeting with a fine result.