Team: Kenny, Hill, Walker, Gorkss, Connolly, Taarabt (Leigertwood), Derry, Faurlin (Buzsaky), Ephraim, Mackie (Smith), Helguson.
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Parker, German, Agyemang.
Attendance: 19, 931 (976 R’s fans).
The local Ipswich newspaper had the front page banner before the match last night: “Will Town go top tonight ? ”Well the answer to that question was a resounding NO ! The match that most Rangers fans had been very apprehensive about and would have gladly accepted a draw from beforehand was in fact way more one sided than Saturday’s game versus Middlesbrough. The R’s ended up running out easy winners and inflicting the first defeat of the season upon the home side.
Right from the kick-off, Rangers took the game to Ipswich and you would have thought, from the balance of play, that they were the home team. On a wet and cold night, cheered on by about a thousand Rangers fans, the spirit and approach from the team was admirable with Rangers dominating the play from start to finish. Kyle Walker, the newly signed defender on loan from Tottenham, made a competent debut in place of the injured Bradley Orr and it was a very strong all-round team performance with Paddy Kenny rarely tested all night but saving well on the few occasions that he was called upon to do so.
Faurlin, as he has done all season, looked excellent until he was injured and was then replaced by Buzsaky after 36 minutes. By that time though, Rangers were already winning 1-0. The first goal came on 31 minutes with Jamie Mackie slamming the ball home from about 12 yards. Goal number two came on 42 minutes and was the deserved result of a superb run by Mackie from just within the Ipswich half. It had looked like Mackie had possibly left it too long to shoot and might have been better to have passed to Kyle Walker, but he threaded his way through the Ipswich defenders and shot past Fulop, the Ipswich keeper from 20 yards with impressive accuracy and skill. A really classy goal and certainly already a contender for a Rangers “Goal of the Season” competition. Six goals in six games so far for Mackie.
At half time, the new Adel Taarabt song took off: “Taarabt Taarabt – Taarabt Taarabt Taarabt” to the tune of the Pink Panther theme, Very good and very catchy ! Full marks to whoever thought that one up. The new “Traditional Rangers/Feyenoord style 1975/76 era kit” (ho ho), was worn for the first time yesterday. The black and red halves shirt looked smart but the red numbers on the back were hard to read from a distance.
Both sides brought on Hungarian internationals as substitutes during the game. As already mentioned, Rangers brought on Akos Buzsaky and Ipswich brought on Tamas Priskin. I certainly know who I’d rather have on the bench ! Fortunately Priskin (complete with his coloured boots) was as poor last night as he was on loan at Rangers last season. His debut at Peterborough in February was the worst I have seen in 37 years of watching the R’s – loanee or not !
The match was sealed on 68 minutes when Rangers were awarded a penalty. The referee blew for a foul on Mackie whilst simultaneously Buzsaky followed through to drive the ball brilliantly into the net. Unfortunately, the “goal” was disallowed as the referee had already awarded the penalty kick. It looked to me like Mackie wanted to take it to gain his hat trick but Helguson, the regular penalty taker, took it with his usual very casual run-up to score by tucking it away low to the keeper’s right. The keeper did get a hand to it though and I do think Helguson may need to re-think his approach as he has had 3 very similar penalties all shown on TV in recent weeks. Rangers continued to keep possession but they did take their foot off the pedal with 15 minutes or so to go as there appeared to be no way back for Ipswich and Mackie was then taken off to be replaced by Tommy Smith with 10 minutes to go.
All in all an excellent performance – the best of the season so far in my view and I’ve seen all the games up until now. No bookings for Rangers either. The only possible negative that comes to mind at all was that Taarabt did look like he was reacting a bit petulantly to being substituted on the hour when he was replaced by Leigertwood. On the radio afterwards, Neil Warnock confirmed that Adel kicked a water bottle at him but Warnock had clearly just shrugged this incident off – hardly surprising considering the match result and Adel’s performances so far this season.
The night became even better when the results from the other games came through. With Burnley losing at Middlesbrough and Leicester beating Cardiff, Rangers went 3 points clear at the top of the table with 16 points after only 6 games. 17 goals scored and only the 2 goals at Derby conceded. Saturday sees Cardiff having to travel to Ipswich, who will surely put up a better performance than they did last night. Leicester away on Saturday is yet another game for Rangers fans to really look forward to.
These are very good times to be a Rangers fan. Am I the only person thinking that this is actually too good to be true ?