RETURNING to Ladbrokes Premiership action against Kilmarnock on the artificial surface at Rugby Park on a freezing cold January night after almost a month without a competitive fixture was a big ask for Rangers.

Following up their win over Celtic last month with another triumph proved to be beyond them. They squandered the early lead debutant Jermain Defoe had given them, conceded goals to Eamonn Brophy and Jordan Jones and slumped to an agonising loss.


Rangers started brightly and opened the scoring in just the 12th minute. Daniel Bachmann produced an excellent double save from a long-range Andy Halliday shot and a follow-up effort from James Tavernier. Stuart Findlay then cleared off the line after Ryan Kent tried his luck.

But the ball went straight to the feet of Defoe off the arm of the unsuspecting Davis and the for-mer England striker had the simplest of tasks to fire into the net from a few yards out. The sizeable travelling support behind both goals erupted as their new hero was mobbed by his team mates.

Morelos nearly built on the visitors’ lead eight minutes later when he got on the end of a Kent corner. His header was a good one, but the Colombian forward was denied by the right post.

An appalling mistake by Joe Worrall allowed Kilmarnock back into proceedings. The centre half was caught dithering in possession by Eamonn Brophy and left his keeper Allan McGregor with no chance.

Morelos had the ball in the back of the net I the 49th minute. Unfortunately for him, he had punched a Tavernier cross from wide on the right instead of headed it. He rightly received a booking from unimpressed referee Don Robertson for his indiscretion.

Kent gave the ball away needlessly in the 66th minute and Jones was soon bearing down on the Rangers goal. He cut inside Gareth McAuley and slotted a low shot beyond the outstretched McGregor and into the bottom right corner from the edge of the area.

Credit to Rangers, they fought hard to get back into the game. Worrall and Morelos both forced saves from Bachmann with headers in the closing stages of the game. But the victory didn’t flatter Kilmarnock.


The Northern Ireland internationalist had incurred the wrath of Kilmarnock fans earlier this month after signing a pre-contract agreement with Rangers by posting his support for the Ibrox club on Twitter – and then signing off WATP (We Are The People).

He played his first game since the furore that erupted in the William Hill Scottish Cup game against Forfar at Rugby Park on Saturday and wasn’t targeted for any abuse. But playing the club he will be joining in the summer was a different proposition entirely.

The winger, though, was once again left to go about his business. Which was just as well as it meant he had the confidence to run half the length of the park and score what proved to be the winning goal. He received a standing ovation when he was replaced in injury-time.


Gerrard kept faith with the starting line-up he had used in the friendly against Helsinki at Ibrox on Sunday and pitched both of his January loan signings straight in to the fray.

Davis was deployed on the left of a midfield diamond – with Ryan Jack behind him, Scott Arfield to his right and Ryan Kent ahead of him – while Defoe played in attack alongside Alfredo Morelos up front.

It is quite a departure from the 4-3-3 formation the manager had stuck rigidly to since taking over. But it ensured that his new recruits and all of his most consistent performers get onto the pitch. It seemed to work well enough. To begin with anyway.

Defoe, who had last started a match against Norwich back in October, was perfectly placed to net on his debut. Davis, whose game time has also been limited this term, was quieter, but still showed occasional moments of quality. Both men, however, clearly need game time.


It didn’t take long for the euphoria that met Rangers’ win over Celtic in the last Glasgow derby to dissipate. The Ibrox club are now three points behind the defending champions once again and their city rivals have a game in hand.

It is all very well rising to the big occasion, but it is games like the one last night that they need to win if they want to contend for the league.


The loss of his leading goalscorer Greg Stewart to Aberdeen and the Jones saga could easily have had an adverse effect on Kilmarnock. But Clarke ensured there was no drop in standards. His charges were every bit as impressive as they had been before the winter break.

The Ayrshire outfit leapfrogged their opponents into second place in the table as the result with a hard-fought and richly-deserved win. Clarke for Manager of the Year anyone? Kilmarnock for the Premiership?