Ross County were unable to hold out for their first win against Rangers as they squandered an early lead to lose 2-1 at Ibrox.
Craig Curran had given the Staggies the early advantage with a close-range header which gave Owen Coyle’s men the half-time lead. Goals from half-time substitute Alfredo Morelos and Danny Wilson turned the match around for the Gers though, lifting them back above Aberdeen into second in the Premiership.
County made four changes from the side that was defeated 2-0 at home to Dundee the previous weekend. Skipper Andrew Davies returned from a calf injury, Jim O’Brien was back from suspension while there were recalls from striker Curran and goalkeeper Scott Fox, with the quartet replacing Aaron McCarey, Ross Draper, Alex Schalk and Kenny van der Weg.
Rangers came into the match on the back of a chaotic 48 hours which had seen their attempts to land Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes thwarted by the Dons manager committing his future to the Dons. The Ibrox men offered early threat though, with Daniel Candeias seein g ans early effort blocked behind for corner by Davies, while their first serious attempt came on nine minutes as Kenny Miller took aim from long-range but the shot flew narrowly over.
The Staggies took the lead only a minute later however, with Jason Naismith finding space down the right flank before crossing for the unmarked Curran to steer home a header at the near post.
Rangers looked for an immediate response to the setback, with goalkeeper Fox having to make good saves to palm James Tavernier’s shot, before an even better save to claw away Miller’s close-range shot on 21 minutes following good work down the left by Jason Holt.
County defended well in the first-half but Rangers should have levelled on 37 minutes, with Davies unable to clear Candeias’ delivery which allowed the ball to spin towards the far post, but Miller was unable to hit the target from close-range.
Rangers made a switch at half-time, with the ineffective Carlos Pena coming off to be replaced by Morelos. The Colombian was lively following his arrival, shooting into Fox’s side netting before getting on the end of Declan John’s excellent delivery, but unable to steer home with the goal gaping.
County made a switch of their own, bringing on Davis Keillor-Dunn for Chris Eagles, however the youngster had a part to play in the moment which brought the equaliser on the hour mark. Keillor-Dunn’s loose pass was intercepted by Miller who fed Candeias, before he picked out Morelos who was able to pick his spot from eight yards.
Keillor-Dunn attempted to atone for his mistake moments later, bending a shot wide after cutting in from the left, while fellow substitute Ryan Dow should have done better when given a fine shooting opportunity from Sean Kelly’s threaded pass.
County were not able to hold out for a share of the points however, with Wilson bundling home at the second attempt after Fox had initially saved Windass’ effort from Tavernier’s free-kick seven minutes from time, with Miller clipping the bar in the search for a Gers third.
His miss nearly proved costly, with Naismith stabbing wide in stoppage time following a goalmouth scramble, however County could not find a late leveller.