RANGERS had to settle for a point for the second time at Ibrox this season as Stenhousemuir’s players produced a battling performance for their new boss Scott Booth.
In what proved to be a topsy-turvy 90 minutes it was the visitor’s Sean Dickson who fired his side in front after 14 minutes but Nicky Law produced a moment of magic to level the score in a first half which also saw Seb Faure stretchered off.
After the break the goals kept coming with Stenny’s Sean Higgins netting his side’s second on 57 minutes before a deflected shot from Fraser Aird made it 2-2.
A trademark Jon Daly header gave the Light Blues their third goal with 19 minutes remaining but the drama wasn’t finished there.
Referee Greg Aitken saw Emilson Cribari commit a foul in the box and after pointing to the spot Higgins found the net, giving Booth the best possible start in his new role as Stenhousemuir manager.
Ally McCoist made two changes to his team with skipper Lee McCulloch joining Cribari in the centre of defence and Faure returning to the right-back slot.
Andy Little also started in attack alongside Jon Daly with Dean Shiels dropping to the subs bench as a precaution after he picked up a knee knock in training yesterday.
Prior to kick off the Rangers fans were in excellent voice and their team responded as they made a positive start to the game.
After five minutes a great corner from Fraser Aird found Cribari but the Brazilian’s glancing header clipped the crossbar. David Templeton, who started his career at Ochilview Park, then tried his luck from 25 yards but his shot was just too high to test Stenny’s number one.
With Rangers enjoying the majority of the possession early on the visitors then stunned the Ibrox faithful when they took a shock lead.
A cross from Nicholas Devlin found striker Sean Dickson and his chest control took him into Gers' 18-yard box. He then sent a low shot into the corner of the net giving Cammy Bell no hope of stopping it.
For a period after the goal Rangers looked rattled as they tried to regain a bit of composure and their frustration was evident on 20 minutes when the ref booked Templeton for a dive when he appeared to be brought down in the box by Sean Lynch.
From the four Ibrox stands it looked a stonewaller but on 24 minutes the winger was guilty of missing a snip. Little did well to find space on the right and when his cut-back cross was missed by Jon Daly, Temps somehow put the ball wide with an empty net in front of him.
Rangers were working hard though and on 35 minutes they were rewarded with an excellent equaliser. Little again did well to find space on the left and instead of crossing he played a great pass to Templeton 20 yards from goal. He then teed up Law who swerved a delightful shot into the net.
Little was proving a handful on his return to the side and two minutes after the leveller he clattered the crossbar with a powerful right foot drive from 20 yards in front of the Broomloan Stand.
Prior to half time the league leaders suffered a setback when Faure was stretchered off, the Frenchmen coming off worse after he went in for a 50/50 with Sean Lynch.
With Richard Foster on as his replacement the first half finished 1-1 but it was Stenny who had a chance to get their noses back in front six minutes after the restart.
A corner to the back post dropped to Dickson and his low shot was blocked by Cribari inside the six-yard box.
On 57 minutes however the big defender couldn’t do anything as Booth’s men made it 2-1. Lynch found space on the right wing and his superb cross was perfect for Higgins who nodded it past Bell from six yards.
Rangers now had to respond, and quickly, if they were to get anything from the game and on 67 minutes they had luck on their side as they made it 2-2.
Aird produced a positive run but his shot from distance took a huge deflection off defender Ross McMillan before the ball rolled into the net with keeper Smith already grounded.
It was proving to be a remarkable afternoon at Ibrox and with 19 minutes remaining Rangers looked to be on their way to claiming three points when John Daly’s powerful header from Aird’s corner flew into the roof of the net in front of the jubilant Bears in the Copland Stand.
The Stadium was now rocking but three minutes later the ref quickly silenced it again when he awarded Stenny a penalty after Cribari looked to have pulled one of their player’s jerseys in the box.
Higgins stepped up and after placing the ball on the spot he calmly beat Bell with an accurate finish to the keeper's left.
Towards the end Shiels replaced Little as Rangers looked for a winner but it wasn't to be and although there were a few half chances created the players in blue cut frustrated figures as they walked up the tunnel after the final whistle.
Stenhousemuir, of course, deserve credit for the way they played but Rangers' lead at the top of League One is now 21 points with second place Dunfermline beating Ayr United 3-0.
RANGERS: Bell; Faure (Foster 45), Cribari, McCulloch, Wallace; Aird, Black, Law, Templeton; Daly, Little (Shiels 84)
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Smith, Crawford, Peralta, Telfer
GOALS: Law 35, McMillan 67og, Daly 71
BOOKINGS: Templeton, Black, McCulloch, Cribari
STENHOUSEMUIR: Smith, Devlin, Malone, McMillan, Greacen, Hodge, McKinlay (Smith74), Rowson, Lynch, Dickson (Watt 83), Higgins (Douglas 90)
SUBS NOT USED: Shaw, McNeil, Brash, Nimmo
GOALS: Dickson 15, Higgins 57, 74pen
REF: Greg Aitken
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