SPL

Rangers title bid suffers another blow in drab goalless draw at Dundee

By Sports Desk April 17, 2024

Rangers’ recent regression continued with a grim goalless draw at Dundee which further dented their increasingly-fragile cinch Premiership title hopes.

The Ibrox side lost for the first time ever against Ross County on Sunday in the poorest performance since boss Philippe Clement took over last October and the Gers boss was looking for a reaction against the Dark Blues.

In a game played at the third time of asking after the Dens Park pitch was twice ruled unplayable, there was no improvement against a Dundee side who impressed.

The travelling Gers fans urged their team on after the break but they lacked imagination and guile and again heard boos at the final whistle.

With five post-split matches remaining including a trip to Celtic Park, the Light Blues are three points behind the Hoops at the top of the table and have hit the skids at the wrong time.

Rangers will now prepare for the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts at Hampden Park on Sunday with newly-acquired trepidation.

Tony Docherty’s Dundee, who commendably clinched a top-six place on their return to the top flight, are now three points behind fifth-placed St Mirren and they deserved their point.

It is now just two wins in eight in all competitions for Clement’s stumbling side.

Utility player Dujon Sterling, midfielder Tom Lawrence and striker Kemar Roofe returned to the side with the latter making his first start since December 20 as Borna Barisic, Kieran Dowell and Cyriel Dessers dropped to the bench.

Ricki Lamie, Owen Dodgson and Malachi Boateng were back for the Taysiders, who came close to scoring within a minute when Boateng’s low drive just escaped Ibrox keeper Jack Butland’s right-hand post.

Dundee skipper Joe Shaughnessy limped off after 10 minutes to be replaced by Antonio Portales before Gers attacker Abdallah Sima outstripped the home defence but his low drive was blocked by the foot of Jon McCracken, the Dundee keeper saving another effort from the Brighton loanee moments later.

Dundee played the better football. In the 22nd minute Butland parried a Luke McCowan free-kick from 25 yards and Scott Tiffoney got to the rebound first to help it on to Amadou Bakayoko to knock over the line from a yard out but the offside flag went up.

Rangers toiled, threatening only occasionally.

McCracken pushed a curling free-kick from Gers skipper James Tavernier round the post then saved a Connor Goldson header from the resulting corner but it was the more composed and fluid home side who were applauded off at the break.

Rangers stepped up the tempo at the start of the second half but a spark of creativity was absent and Dundee’s defending was organised.

In the 56th minute, Clement tried a shake-up and Dessers, Dowell and Rabbi Matondo replaced Roofe, Todd Cantwell and Fabio Silva and McCracken soon had to save from Lawrence’s drive from a tight angle.

McCracken pulled off a fine save from Dessers’ curling shot as the Dees defence were stretched for once and held a tame Tavernier header but it was mostly huffing and puffing from the visitors while Dundee were always a threat.

Worryingly for Gers fans, their side have suffered a dip in form at the wrong time of the season.

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