Garry Morris makes his blogging debut on Heart & Hand with a new series, entitled 'Playing Away'
Hi everyone & welcome to the first companion blog for my show for Patreon subscribers Around The Grounds, in which along with a special guest I look back at memorable matches in Rangers history from away grounds
For this blog, I will focus not on specific matches like we do on the pod, but on the venues themselves, our record at this ground, a review of the current playing staff of that team and reflect on some notable points of interest. In week one, with this weekends Betfred Cup match at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock looming, I’m looking at the notorious home of the Killie Pie.
We go into this weekends match on the back of Kilmarnock winning Group H of this years group stage. They opened the campaign with a 0-0 draw against newly promoted St Mirren (losing the bonus points penalty shoot out 3-2), following up with a 4-2 win at Dumbarton with Kris Boyd netting a hat-trick, and the other goal from new loan signing Mikael Ndjoli.
Their next match was a comfortable 3-0 win at Spartans, with Ndjoli back on the scoresheet twice after Lee Erwin had opened the scoring, and they completed the group stage with a 2-0 home win over Queens Park with goals from Eamonn Brophy, and an injury time Kris Boyd penalty.
Rangers go into the match having received a bye past the group stage due to their involvement in the Europa League preliminary rounds, and will be looking to go one stag3 further than last year where we fell foul to Louis Moult’s double and some rough house Motherwell tactics in the Hampden semi final.
Historically of course, the League Cup is a trophy which Rangers do very well in, although they last won the trophy back in season 2010/2011. Interestingly the following season it was Kilmarnock that won the cup.
Looking at Sunday’s game, our record at Rugby Park is very decent, having won 73 out of 121 matches. When looking at just league cup ties, it’s even more impressive, with 4 wins out of 5 in total, including the last four.
Our last win at Rugby Park in the league cup came on 27th of October 2010, en route to winning the cup that season. Rangers won 2-0 at the quarter final stage with goals from Andrew Little, and ex-Kilmarnock man Steven Naismith.
Kilmarnock will surely be once again looking to Kris Boyd to continue the form of last season, and will be backed up from wide areas by the likes of the impressive Jordan Jones, and Bournemouth loanee Ndjoli. They are weakened by the loss of key players from last season such as ex West Brom star Youssouf Mulumbu who was very impressive at the heart of their midfield last season. Experienced defender Gordon Greer has also left the club, and the previously mentioned Lee Erwin has joined Harry Forrester out in the hotbed of the Iranian league.
Expect Rangers to make some changes from Thursday nights impressive draw at Maribor with the likes of the cup tied Borna Barisic, and suspended Jon Flanagan available; although it’s probable that the game will come too soon for Heart & Hands own Lassana Coulibaly.
The game is live on BT sport on Sunday and I’m going to predict a solid 2-0 win, which will see us through to the last 8 of the competition.
Enjoy the game!
Gary Morris (@garymorris81)